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What is the SAT?
Created by the College Board, the SAT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions.  The idea is to provide colleges with one common criterion that can be used to compare all applicants.  It is just one factor in the admissions decision.  Colleges also consider a student’s high school transcript, grade point average, outside activities, letters of recommendation and personal essays.  The importance of the SAT score varies from school to school. 

The SAT also offers one-hour subject tests in a variety of subjects that measure a student’s ability in specific curriculum areas.  Not all colleges require SAT II subject tests but those that do often require specific ones depending on a student’s choice of college major.  Students who are taking SAT Subject Tests should try to take it immediately following the completion of the course in that subject.  SAT Subject Tests are offered in the following areas:

•    Biology E or M
•    Chemistry
•    Languages (Reading and Listening) Chinese, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Spanish)
•    Languages (Reading only) : French, German, Italian, Latin, Modern Hebrew, Spanish
•    Literature
•    Math I (Arithmetic, Algebra I, II, and Geometry  with use of calculator)
•    Math  II ( primarily Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Trigonometry with use of calculator)
•    Physics
•    U.S. History
•    World History

As of March 2016, three are two SAT sections:  Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, plus an optional essay.  The essay results are reported separately.  The SAT is offered nationally every year in October, November, December, January, March, May, and June.  Ward Melville does not offer the October examination but it is offered in other locations.

SAT registration deadlines are usually five weeks before each test date.  Register online on the College Board website at  

What is the ACT?
The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.  Scores range from 1-36 with a composite score being the average of the four subject areas.  A writing test is optional but recommended.   Students are encouraged to take the ACT in their junior year or the fall of their senior year.  It is important to note that all scores appear on a student’s score report unless the student utilizes the Score Choice option.  However, most colleges document the highest scores from a test date during the application process.

ACT results are accepted by most four-year colleges and universities in the US.  The ACT is administered on six test dates within the US territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada.   Students may register for the ACT online at  

Early Action and Early Decision:   What is the difference?
Early Decision is a binding agreement between the student and the school whereby if the student is accepted, he/she must attend.  Application deadlines are typically Nov. 1 or Nov. 15, with decision notification on or about Dec.15.  Early Action is not binding.  For this consideration, student must submit their applications early and they will be notified early of the college/university’s decision, but they do not need to attend.