College Admission Tests: SAT & ACT


College Admission Testing

Each student's testing journey is different. Please consult with the college center, your counselor, and create a testing timeline that best sets you up for success and for your college goals. 
What is a typical testing timeline? 
Remember, each student's testing plan will differ, there is no one size fits all! That's okay! BHHS students will have the opportunity to take PSAT exams beginning in fall of 9th grade, spring 10th grade, and fall of 11th grade. These exams are preliminary and help track progress, college readiness, and are a helpful practice point. Keep in mind, as you grow in your classes and have more academic content under your belt, your scores will improve as well! 
After juniors take the PSAT exam in October and receive their PSAT results in December, we recommend taking a practice ACT to get a sense of which exam is strongest for the student. Once you decide on an exam, register for an official exam in the spring of junior year. BHHS offers an official SAT in March for all juniors free of charge. You do NOT need to register on College Board for this exam, students will receive communication prior to the event. 
Students typically take an official exam (either SAT or ACT - colleges will consider BOTH and have NO preference over which exam, really!!) in the spring of junior year and can retake the exam if needed. Retaking the exam (2 to really no more than 3 times) is appropriate. Students will be able to send their highest score to colleges accepting test scores. Some colleges that allow super scoring will take the highest subsection of scores across test dates and will take the highest combined scores. Not all colleges do this, and not all colleges are accepting testing. It is up to the student to review testing policies of the colleges they're interested in applying to, to make the best decision on when/how to test. Counselors and the college center are here to help you! Ask! Also don't hesitate to call a college admission office and gain some insight to their most recent testing policies and what's best. 
When is the latest I can test? 
Students can test up until fall of their senior year. If you are applying early to colleges, you will want to test before October. If you are applying regular decision you can test sometimes up to December. Again, it will depend so do not wait to create a testing plan. 
How do I decide which exam to take? SAT or ACT?
Colleges will accept both and there is no preference. Take a practice exam in both (by fall/early spring of your junior year) and decide which exam FEELS better and which one you test stronger in. Then look at registration testing dates and register for an official exam. 

Test structure

SAT - Score of 400 - 1600

Reading 65 minutes, Writing & language 35 minutes, math w/out calculator 25, math w/ calculator 55 min 
To note: Math w/out calculator try it out! Some students will panic just not having the calculator. Try the section and see how you do!

ACT - Score of 1 - 36

English 45 minutes, Math 60 min, Reading 35 min, Science 35 min
To note: Science is unique to ACT - don’t let the label put you off or draw you in! If I’m a STEM student don’t automatically assume the ACT has science and you won't test well. It doesn’t call for factual recall of bio or chemistry for example. It’s asking you to read quickly descriptions of different experiments and then analyze that data in charts/graphs - there is no outside science knowledge that you need to bring in to do well on the section 
Do all colleges require SAT/ACT?
No. Many colleges are test optional or do not require testing at all as a part of their admission review.
To note: The UC and CSU system DO NOT require testing as a part of their review process for admission. Your score will not be seen or reviewed in admission decisions.
If a college is test optional, it is up to you as the student (with help from college center/counseling/college admission counselor for guidance) to decide if your score will be an added value to your application and if it is appropriate to send it. Look at testing averages from past admitted applicants on each college your considering and see if your score falls within the ranges and will be helpful to your application. Each college is different so do check!
Remember, grades, GPA, and your academic schedule is important!! 
Testing is ONE component of your college application. It can be an added value to showcase your academic strengths and potential for success in college. Your day in day out course work and effort in your classes are the biggest component of the academic review in an application. Not JUST your GPA, but how you've grown over time, consistency or growth in grades, adding honors/AP/advanced coursework in academic areas of strength, etc. Take the time to do well in classes. 
How do I study/prepare for the exam? 
Remember, every student is different, so just as you prepare and study for a final, you will have different study strategies that work best for YOU. There is no quick fix or one size fits all to guarantee a score! Consistent studying is best (think about 2-3 months of consistent studying leading up to the official exam). Consistent studying can be logging online once a week and adding practice exams along the way, it can be with a tutor one on one, in groups, an online course, etc. There are many options. We offer free practice exams at Beverly, see below. 
National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) at
Free Practice Exam - Princeton Review

Please contact Loann Truong at The Princeton Review ([email protected]) if you have any questions. Please note: To access the online practice test, students must enter a personal email address (not a school email). Students and parents will receive an email with instructions on how to access an online SAT practice exam.


Compass Education Group - in person or online exams

Schedule an online exam, or an in-person exam to practice testing in a real testing environment

More information and scheduling options here

Test Preparation
We do not endorse one company over the another. If you are interested in receiving test preparation from any of the companies listed mentioned, we strongly suggest that you ask for references.