U.S. College Entrance Exams

Despite a growing trend to place less emphasis on standardized test scores in the admission process, most U.S. colleges and universities still require applicants to furnish results from one or more standardized college entrance exams.

Students should refer to the colleges’ admissions website to determine which exams they will be required to take. Most require either the ACT or SAT. Some colleges are now "test optional" or accept a combination of test scores. For information on colleges that offer alternative testing options, visit www.fairtest.org.

We highly recommend that students take test preparation classes for the ACT, SAT, and TOEFL. See the list of organizations that offer Test Preparation Services. Students may take the tests multiple times, and send colleges their highest scores only.

For a comprehensive list of when specific tests are administered, see U.S. College Entrance Exam Calendar.


The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is an abbreviated version of the SAT. It is administered at the Lycée on the second Wednesday in October to all students in grades 9 through 11. The highest possible score is 240.

The PSAT is good practice for students who plan to take the SAT. American citizens and permanent residents who score in the top 99 percent of all test takers may be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship.


The Scholastic Aptitude Test is a 3-1/2 hour test of the student’s reasoning ability. It has three parts: critical reading, math, and writing. The reading section consists of reading comprehension questions and sentence completions. The math section tests all levels of algebra and geometry. The writing section includes an essay and multiple choice questions testing the student’s use of standard written English. Scores range from 200 to 800 on each section; the highest total score possible is 2400.

The test is given seven times during the school year. Students select a location to take the test when they register.

Register for the SAT at www.collegeboard.com.

SAT Subject Tests™

These tests, lasting one hour each, assess the student’s knowledge of a given subject area such as French, Spanish, German, or math. Up to three subject tests may be taken on one test administration date. The highest possible score in each subject is 800.

Many highly selective colleges require two or three SAT Subject Tests. Students should check with the individual colleges to determine how many they need to take. For colleges that don’t require subject tests, students who have taken them may submit the results as a supplement to their application and as proof of proficiency in subject areas.

Register for SAT Subject Tests at www.collegeboard.com.


The American College Testing Program test comprises four sections that range from 25 to 50 minutes in length. The sections are English, math, reading, and science reasoning. An essay writing section is optional, but students should register to take it. ACT scores range from 1 to 36. The ACT is given six times a year.

Many colleges accept either the SAT or the ACT in making their admission decisions. The ACT is more popular than the SAT with Lycée students.

Register for the ACT at www.act.com.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language is required of college applicants whose native language is not English. The highest possible score is 200. The TOEFL is offered throughout the year, at least once a week, at designated test centers. It is an Internet-based test, and the results are available two weeks after the test date.

Register for the TOEFL at www.toefl.org.


The 3-hour Advanced Placement exams, administered in May, measure the student’s advanced knowledge of a given subject, for example, the knowledge acquired during a full-year college-level course taken in high school.

AP scores range from 1 to 5. Students scoring well on an AP test may receive college credit or be placed in an advanced level course when they attend college.

Because the Lycée does not offer college level courses, not all of the AP exams are appropriate for Lycée students, but exams in French, Spanish, and German may be viable choices.

Students can use AP scores to supplement their applications and as evidence of proficiency in academic subject areas, similar to an SAT Subject Test.

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