The late night taste of stale coffee lingers on your tongue as you struggle to keep your eyes open on the boring text. In your mind you have to keep going but it’s getting harder and harder to keep focused. It happens; your book feels more like a pillow. A few short hours later and the blasting sound of the alarm rings, you scramble to get your disheveled body ready to take the test that determines your whole future. If you can relate to this feeling you’ve come to the right place. Here you will discover the most common college entrance exams and what you need to know to prepare for them.

What are College Entrance Exams?

Most colleges require some kind of testing such as, an entrance exam or placement testing. An entrance exam determines your existing scholastic knowledge based on what you have learned in school. There are test preparation guides available to help you understand the way questions are worded. Students with test anxiety test better with preparation guides because they feel more prepared, even if the content is based on existing knowledge. Placement testing is for students that have been accepted into college and in order to schedule classes need to take placement tests. These tests determine what level classes you should be taking. If you did well on an entrance exam such as, ACT you might not need to take a placement test.

Tests to Know

  • Compass Test

Two-year schools don’t typically require an entrance exam. These schools often use what is known as ACT Compass tests. These placement tests are used to gauge your English and math skills. Your scores on compass do determine which classes you should schedule to match your skill level.

  • ACT

The ACT is a standardized test that most high school students take in their senior year. Colleges look at these scores to determine application eligibility. There is an optional writing portion of the test that is scored separately to promote your college application.

  • PSAT

The Preliminary SAT is a standardized test used to determine eligible students interested in the National Merit Scholarship Program. This test is to be taken during sophomore and junior year of high school, but can be taken earlier.

  • SAT

The Scholastic Aptitude Test was designed to measure a student’s readiness for college. Taking the SAT is a requirement to be admitted into most American universities. SAT Prep in NYC encourages students to polish skills before testing.


Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is used for students looking at traveling abroad for school. This test is helpful if you are looking at attending school in an English speaking country.

Registration Deadlines and Fees

Entrance exams are typically offered a couple of times per season. The fees for registration change because some tests charge additionally for writing segments. If you do not attend a public school you might want to find out available testing centers. When you register for the test it locates the closest testing facility and lists the time that you need to sign in. Don’t forget to bring a photo ID on test day.

AP Classes

Taking advanced placement (AP) classes while in high school has great rewards. Firstly, AP classes are a great way to prepare for college. They are more challenging than a regular class, but can be more fun if you enjoy the subject. Not to mention that some colleges offer credit hours to students that take AP classes in high school. If the class is similar enough you will save time and money towards general education classes. If you’ve been accepted into a college ask registration if you have classes that might qualify toward credit hours.

Class Placement

Placement tests are usually required for schools that accept anyone. This lets the college know where your existing knowledge might be in math and English. This can be beneficial in some ways if you are good at either of these subjects because you might qualify to test out of classes.

Be Prepared

It sounds easy, but just relax. College entrance exams are not meant to stress you out. If you’ve worked diligently throughout high school this is a great opportunity to show off how much you know. Get lots of rest before the test and you will be fine.

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