College admissions tests are standardized tests taken by high school students and those looking to attend a higher education university. Test results are used by universities to determine the student’s basic knowledge and to predict their future academic achievements. The two main types of college admissions tests in the United States are the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) exam. In other parts of the world, either national exams are given in high school, and many universities also have their own specific exams for admission.
Depending on the admission requirements for the university the person wishes to attend, a high school student will take either the ACT or SAT. The SAT has ten timed sections that test math skills, reading comprehension, and writing. Each section is comprised of multiple-choice questions except for a section of the writing exam, which requires the student to complete an essay arguing a position within 25 minutes. This test takes nearly four hours to complete and is offered seven times throughout the year. The highest score that can be achieved is 2400.
Another type of college admissions tests is the ACT exam. The ACT tests English, math, reading, and science, and also has an optional essay portion. An ACT exam takes less than four hours to complete, and requires pre-registration for one of the six times it if offered throughout the year. Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not count incorrect answers towards the overall score. The highest possible score achieved on an ACT is a 36, and students can retake the test up to 12 times and only send the highest score to the university or higher education institute of their choice.
In parts of Asia, entrance exams vary by country and sometimes the region. Chinese high school students will take the National College Entrance Examination, also known as Gao Kao, before applying to higher education institutions. In Japan, students take the National Center Test for University of Admissions. South Korean college admissions require the very competitive and difficult College Scholastic Ability test for acceptance to a university. In India, colleges and specific program admissions have individual standards and test results that they require and sometimes each province will have a specific test for entrance into the state colleges.
In European countries, national admissions tests are required for entrance into a university. United Kingdom universities usually administer their own college entrance exams, but some only require that students have completed their Advanced level (A-level) or Advanced Subsidiary (AS) qualifications. In France, the Baccalaureat must be completed to obtain a diploma that certifies that the student has completed their secondary education studies. The Abitur is a final exam in Germany, Estonia, and Finland that provides students with a certificate to attend high level education facilities or to apply for trade apprenticeships.