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Undergraduate College Admissions Tests

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The ACT, SAT, and TOEFL (for non-native English speakers) are the major standardized college admissions tests taken in the United States today.

ACT

Purpose

  • Required for admissions at four-year colleges or universities (except at ones with open enrollment)
  • Helps predict the academic performance in the first year of college

What is Tested

  • English, math, reading, and science skills.
  • Planning and writing a short essay.

Samples

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Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

Purpose

  • Taken by sophomores and juniors in high school. Serves as practice for the SAT
  • Used to award scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation when taken in 11th grade

What is Tested

  • Critical reading skills
  • Math problem-solving skills
  • Writing skills

Samples

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SAT

Purpose

  • Measures the academic skills that students have developed over time and those they need to succeed in college.
  • Subject tests are designed to measure a student's knowledge and skills in a specific subject area.

What is Tested

  • The SAT measures critical reading, writing, and math reasoning skills.
  • The SAT Subject tests measures mastery of subjects in English, history, math, science, and language.

Samples

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TOEFL — Test of English as a Foreign Language

Purpose

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) measures the ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings. Most international students take the TOEFL test as a prerequisite for admission into colleges and universities in the United States. Many government, licensing, and certification agencies as well as exchange and scholarship programs also use the scores to determine eligibility of applicants whose native language is not English.

Samples

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Services for Students with Disabilities

Students with documented disabilities may be eligible to receive accommodations (such as Braille tests, large print, and extended time) when taking admissions tests. To learn more about the accommodations available for each test mentioned above, visit: ACT (undergraduate), PSAT or SAT (undergraduate), or TOEFL (non-native English speakers).

Source: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the University of Minnesota.