5 Types of Standardized Exams for High Schoolers


When the time comes to move up to high school, your student is bound by certain requirements. Many students take standardized exams to prove they’re prepared for more challenging learning and coursework—and ultimately post-secondary education. These tests are important indicators of college readiness, so understanding the various types of exams that are available and what subject areas they cover can help you prepare your child for future success. From the SATs to the ACTs, let’s explore the different types of standardized exams for high schoolers in this exciting chapter of their educational journey!

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Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)

The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT. Typically, your child will take the PSAT in their sophomore or junior year of high school. This test not only serves as a valuable practice opportunity but also as a qualifying examination for the National Merit Scholarship Program. High scores on the PSAT can translate to financial scholarships, academic recognition, and prestigious college acceptances.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

The SAT is a crucial exam for high schoolers as it is a required component for many college applications. The test measures a student’s aptitude in critical reading, writing, and mathematical problem-solving. Like the PSAT, the exam consists of three sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math, and an optional essay section.

ACT (American College Testing)

The ACT is an alternative to the SAT that most colleges and universities in the United States accepted. This test evaluates a student’s readiness for college, focusing on English, mathematics, reading, and science, with an optional writing test. Some students choose to take both the SAT and ACT to broaden their options and increase their chances of college admittance.

AP (Advanced Placement) Exams

AP Exams test a student’s mastery of specific subjects and offer the possibility of earning college credit. High schools across the country offer AP classes, which prepare students to take AP Exams at the end of the school year. These exams cover various subjects, such as biology, calculus, and history. A high score on an AP Exam can potentially save your child time and money in college by allowing them to skip certain introductory courses.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams

The final type of standardized exam for high schoolers we’ll cover is the IB exam. The IB program is rigorous and comprehensive. Much like AP courses, high schoolers can earn college credits, advanced placement, or both by performing well on the IB exams at the end of each course. The IB program has a global focus on developing critical thinking, intercultural understanding, and various approaches to learning.

Standardized tests provide valuable information for college admissions teams and can lead to financial rewards or advanced placement in college programs. It’s essential for students to prepare for these tests and for parents to encourage their children’s efforts to study. With adequate preparation, your high schooler can overcome the challenges these exams present and achieve their academic goals.

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