College Testing



How Do Colleges Use Entrance Exams?

  • Admissions-Test scores along with information about grades, course rigor, class rank, school and community activities, planned college activities, work experience and personal and family background help colleges identify applicants who can benefit most from their programs.
  • Scholarships-Many scholarships use test scores to help identify qualified candidates.
  • Placement-Colleges usually take into account individual strengths and weaknesses as they place students in first-year courses.
  • Advising-A college advisor may take into consideration scores, along with high school curriculum and grades, and career plans to help develop a plan of study for college.

The Three Basic College Entrance Tests

  • Accuplacer- Southeast and Metro Community College use the Accuplacer as a placement test to determine level of skill and competence in math, reading, and English.
  • American College Test (ACT)--Is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the United States. It is used for determining Nebraska Regents Scholarships. Covers English, math, science reasoning, and reading. There is also an optional writing section.
  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)--Also referred to as the College Boards covers math, reading, and writing/language. There is also an optional essay test.
  • MAP- measure of academic progress growth tests given in high school.  NECC and CCC will use the math, reading, & language scores for course placement.  MAP tests are administered at school.


The ACT test is recommended by many Midwestern colleges and universities. Most colleges use ACT scores to award merit scholarships. It is recommended that juniors should take the April ACT test and retest again as seniors. The student must register online at www.actstudent.org and pay the fee. The student must also upload a photo. The test is given six times a year, all on Saturday mornings. Included in the registration is a student profile which will ask for the student's class size, class rank, and grades in certain subjects. Contact the school counselor for this information.

ACT will send the score reports to any college the student desires and also to the NCAA and NAIA. The first four college choices are included in the basic test fee. It is to the student's advantage to have scores sent to at least three colleges. ACT scores are included on the student's transcript, but many colleges, the NCAA, and the NAIA require that scores be sent directly from ACT.

ACT has established college readiness benchmarks to indicate a 50% chance of earning a B or higher, or a 75% chance of earning a C or higher in the corresponding college course.

  • College English Composition-score of 18 on ACT English test
  • College Algebra-score of 22 on ACT Math test
  • College Social Sciences/Humanities-score of 22 on ACT Reading test
  • College Biology-score of 23 on ACT Science test

ACT has an added Writing test that students can opt to take. At the present time, no colleges in Nebraska are requiring the writing score. 

The SAT tests measures what you learned in high school and what you need to succeed in college. The SAT test is required by many East and West Coast colleges as well as by many selective colleges. Students can apply online at www.collegeboard.com. The SAT test includes reading, math, and writing/language. There is an optional essay component that some colleges require.

ACT/SAT results are NOT sent to your high school unless you enter your high school code on the registration form.


ACCUPLACER is an integrated system of computer-adaptive assessments designed to evaluate students’ skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. It is used to assess student preparedness for introductory credit-bearing college courses. Community Colleges also use these scores for specific program placement and for criteria for academic scholarships. https://accuplacer.collegeboard.org/student

The Accuplacer test is computerized and adaptive. One advantage is a student can retest on just one subject area on the test. 

Tips for Taking College Admission Tests

  1. Do sample tests and request English or Math teachers to explain or review basic concepts. Access the John Baylor Test Prep site with a password from the school and go to other online sites to study.
  2. Get to the exam site ahead of time. Arriving at the last minute can cost valuable moments of psychological orientation.
  3. Work rapidly. Skip difficult items and return to them later. Do not get hung up on one question and spend twice or three times as long on it as on others. Then, if there is time, return to unanswered questions.
  4. Use spare time at the end for rereading and checking over items.
  5. Plan your time carefully. spending too much time on a question can be as detrimental as a wrong answer.
  6. There is only one right answer. If you identify it, don't waste time working through the other possibilities. Go on to the next question.
  7. In reading comprehension sections, underline important information as you read through the test. There is no penalty for marking on worksheets.
  8. Pay particular attention to words such as "and," "but," "not," "however," and "therefore".
  9. Use mathematics shortcuts such as cancellation of fractions, estimation, and removal of decimal points whenever possible.
  10. Bring a watch to the test. It is important to be aware of the time allotted to each section. Time yourself when doing practice tests.
  11. Be aware of the number of the item in your test booklet and the corresponding number of the item on the answer sheet so answers are not misaligned.
  12. Answer every question.