The school provides students with appropriate support and preparation for any test recommended by the school or typically required by colleges. Increasingly, colleges are re-examining their standardized testing policies, and many colleges no longer require particular test scores from applicants; a list of these colleges can be found on the website of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, www.FairTest.org. As policies may change, students should research the specific testing requirements of colleges to which they might be applying.
Test Preparation & Support
There are a number of affordable online options for students to prepare themselves to take the SAT, ACT or PSAT tests. The College Board (SAT/PSAT) and ACT websites both offer online courses and (free) practice tests. In addition, juniors and seniors have access to the Method online SAT and ACT prep through Beaver’s Naviance college resource site.
Beaver families may receive discounted standardized-test preparation services through a partnership arrangement with Chyten Educational Services. In addition, Beaver provides a continuously updated list (PDF) of standardized test-prep providers at a range of price points and locations (including online).
College Board Tests (PSAT, SAT & AP)
Four major types of tests for high school students are administered by the College Board: the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test); the SAT Reasoning Test; the SAT Subject Tests; and Advanced Placement Examinations.
The PSAT/NMSQT is administered at Beaver in October to all sophomores and juniors. Sophomores take the test to familiarize themselves with the test format and to facilitate early-stage college counseling. Juniors use scores to construct initial college plans and to anticipate work on SAT preparation; some may qualify for National Merit Scholarship program. Results of these tests are not sent to colleges.
The SAT Reasoning Test is typically taken in the spring of the junior year and also in the fall of senior year. Most colleges require applicants to submit scores from either this test or the ACT test (see below).
SAT Subject Tests are taken by many students at the end of a course of study (typically at the end of the junior year for literature and mathematics, after taking an Honors Advanced elective in the sciences, or during or after a language course at level IV or above). Some highly selective colleges require scores from several (typically two) of these tests, although many colleges allow students to submit an ACT with Writing test (see below) in place of Subject Tests. Typically Beaver students will take mathematics, literature, and/or a science test, but the college counseling office and individual teachers can advise students on which tests to take and when to take them.
The College Board offers SAT Online Prep & Practice Tests on its website.
Advanced Placement (AP) examinations may be taken at Beaver in a number of subject areas including English, the sciences, calculus, studio art, and computer science. Examinations are given during school (on campus) in early May, and students will be invited or recommended to register for testing during the winter term. Individual teachers and departments will suggest testing on an individual basis and may offer candidates some level of specific preparation support. Some colleges apply test scores in the passing range (3, 4, or 5) toward college credit or advanced placement in courses in a specific discipline.
ACT Tests (EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT)
The ACT program is an increasingly popular alternative or supplement to the College Board testing program and now claims to be the “most widely accepted college entrance exam” in America.
The EXPLORE test is given in the Middle School. It consists of four subtests, in English, reading, mathematics, and science. Test scores are used to help individual students develop learning goals and to help teachers troubleshoot areas of individual challenge. The EXPLORE also provides a projected score range for students’ 10th-grade PLAN testing.
The PLAN test is given in the sophomore year and follows the same testing format as the EXPLORE test. Results are used to help individual students develop leaning goals as well as to facilitate early-stage college counseling. Like the EXPLORE, the PLAN also provides a projected score range for students’ ACT testng.
The ACT test is typically taken in the spring of the junior year and/or in the fall of senior year. Students must register to take the ACTs off-campus. In addition to the same test areas used in the EXPLORE and PLAN (English, reading, mathematics, and science), there is also an optional Writing test that juniors and seniors are recommended to take. Most colleges require scores from either this test or some combination of SAT tests for admission, although many colleges accept ACT test scores in lieu of SAT Subject Test scores.
The ACT offers ACT Online Prep & Practice Tests on its website.
The TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, may be taken by students whose first language is not English. The test may be taken in several formats, electronic or paper. Arrangements to take the TOEFL should be made several months in advance of the scheduled test days.