ACT & SAT Information

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College Admissions Tests


There are two basic college admissions tests, the ACT and the SAT.  Students typically begin taking college admissions tests in the spring of their junior year.  Most students elect to take either or both of the tests more than one time. Beginning in the spring of 2015 as part of the state testing requirement, all MCPASD students will be required to take the ACT, free of charge, in the spring of their junior year.  


Pre-Tests  ACT ASPIRE is a test offered to all students through the MCPASD. Students take the ASPIRE test in the spring of 9th and 10th grades. Information about the test can be found at PSAT: The PSAT is offered by the MCPASD to sophomore and junior students on the national PSAT testing date in October.  Students may register for the PSAT during summer registration at the high school.  The PSAT is used to qualify for National Merit Competition during a student’s junior year. 
Test Format

English: Measures standard written English and rhetorical skills.

Math: Measures mathematical skills students have typically acquired in courses taken up to the beginning of grade 12.

Reading: Measures reading comprehension.

Science: Measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences.

Optional Writing Test: Measures writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses.

Critical Reading: Includes reading passages and sentence completions.

Writing: Includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.

Mathematics: Includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.


The ACT (No Writing) consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The ACT Plus Writing includes the four multiple-choice tests and a Writing Test.

Answer every question. Your scores on the multiple-choice tests are based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing.

English: 75 questions/45 minutes

Math: 60 questions/60 minutes

Reading: 40 questions/35 minutes

Science: 40 questions/35 minutes

Optional Writing Test: 1 writing prompt/30 minutes

Each section of your SAT (critical reading, mathematics and writing) will be scored on a 200- to 800-point scale, for a possible total of 2400. You’ll also get two “subscores” on the writing section: a multiple-choice score from 20 to 80, and an essay score from 2 to 12.

But how do you get these scores? Two steps happen before you see a final score.

First, a raw score is calculated by:

  • Adding points for correct answers.
  • Subtracting a fraction of a point for wrong answers.

Questions that you skipped don’t count either for or against your score, and points aren’t taken away for wrong answers on the math questions where you needed to enter the answer into a grid.

Your raw score is then turned into a scaled score. This is where the score of 200–800 points comes from, and it is done through a statistical process called “equating.” This process makes it possible to compare your score with the scores of other students who took alternative versions of the test, and to your own scores on previous tests.

The SAT is made up of 10 sections:

  • A 25-minute essay
  • Six 25-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)
  • Two 20-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)
  • A 10-minute multiple-choice writing section

Total test time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

Test Preparation
Subject Tests Not applicable


Other ACT and/or SAT Test Preparation Websites: