What is Standardized Testing for College?

Standardized tests are a required part of the college application process. The most frequently used admissions test in the northeast is the SAT. The test, given on national Saturday test dates, is the only common factor among the applicants to a college (high school requirements, recommendations, levels of activity, etc. vary greatly). The extent to which a college will weigh these results in admissions decisions will also vary. Few colleges have a minimum required test score. For most, the test is only one of the factors contributing to the admissions decision. For some very fine schools, standardized testing is even optional.

The SAT consists of two kinds of tests: a general exam testing critical reading, mathematical, and writing skills, known as the SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Tests that assess skills in specific high school level disciplines. Your counselor and your teachers will help you determine which of the subject examinations might be appropriate choices for you. A number of colleges will either require or recommend two subject exams from all of their applicants. Further descriptions of these tests follow.

The College Entrance Tests

List of 5 items.

  • The PSAT

    The Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), required of juniors in October, is a shortened version of the SAT.
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  • The SAT I: Reasoning Test

    The SAT Reasoning Test, a three-hour and forty-five minute test of verbal and quantitative abilities administered by the Educational Testing Service.
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  • The SAT II: Subject Tests

    The SAT Subject Tests, one-hour exams offered by ETS, are also used in admissions.
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  • The ACT

    The ACT Assessment is a test similar in nature to the SAT Reasoning Test that was traditionally administered to high school students in the Midwest.
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  • The AP Tests

    Advanced Placement Tests (APs) are not required for college admission. In fact, the results of APs are generally not available until after you have been admitted, since many students take the bulk of their AP exams during their senior year.
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Reporting Admissions Test Results

Although your Trinity transcript includes your SAT Reasoning Test or ACT scores and any SAT Subject Test scores, colleges will require official reports sent directly to them from the testing agency. It is your responsibility as an applicant to report your scores by 1) indicating a college as a score recipient at the time you register to take a test, 2) indicate the colleges you want to receive your scores at the time you take the exam, or 3) completing a request on the College Board website or by calling the College Board with this request. Please follow the instructions given by the College Board.

Subject Tests

List of 6 items.

  • Science

    Please consult the Chair of the Science Department for guidance on taking Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
  • Modern Languages

    There are several parameters for students taking the Modern Languages Subject Tests.
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  • Latin

    Most students enrolled in the Trinity Latin program take Latin Caesar-Vergil AP in the tenth or eleventh grade.
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  • Mathematics

    Two options exist for Subject Tests in Math: Level 1, and Level 2. 
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  • English

    The Subject Test in Literature is available to students who have a high level of verbal ability and sensitivity to language.
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  • History

    Students who have felt comfortable with the language and concepts of Trinity's courses in Modern European History and American History may consider taking the SAT Subject Tests in World History and United States History in the spring of their 10th and 11th grade years, respectively.
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When should I take the tests?

The following suggests when students might sit for these examinations. These are, however, general recommendations and students contemplating a particular test should first consult with the College Office or their teachers.

Grade 9
Biology: May, June

Grade 10
Latin, Physics: May, June

Grade 11*
SAT: January, March, May, June
ACT: February, April, June (Note: The February ACT is not offered in New York and requires registration in New Jersey or Connecticut)
Chemistry, French, Spanish, US History: May, June
Math 2: January for Honors sections, otherwise, May, June

*All students should have taken the SAT or ACT and two Subject Tests before the end of the junior year.

Grade 12
Seniors may re-test in any area in consultation with their college counselor.
For early applications: September, October, November
For regular applications: October, November, December, January

How should I take the tests?

‘How’ begs the question of preparation. Is it necessary? If so, what form should it take and how much effort should be put into it? Our opinion about these questions is that standardized tests are like any other exam in that students can and should ready themselves for them. The method of preparation will vary, however, depending on the student. Some are naturally gifted testers and can succeed with relatively little work. Others have the discipline to prepare on their own using the good guidebooks or software on the market. Still more need the structure of a course or individual tutoring to do well. What does ‘well’ mean? Again, this is an individual definition dependent on each student’s abilities and college ambitions, but it is fair to say that most of the colleges to which Trinity students apply expect their candidates to be at least at the 2100 level of the SAT or 32 on the ACT.

The College Board provides on its website (www.collegeboard.com) self-directed online preparation for the SAT that students may want to explore. There are also many vendors in New York that provide these services in various forms and with varying costs. The College Office is happy to make some suggestions to interested families. Finally, Trinity has contracted with Zinc Tutors and Test Prep to offer a course at school to juniors that will ready them for the March SAT or April ACT.
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Located on Upper West Side of New York City, Trinity School is a college preparatory, coeducational independent school for grades K-12. Since 1709, Trinity has provided a world-class education to its students with rigorous academics and outstanding programs in athletics, the arts, peer leadership, and global travel.