College Entrance Exams

  • PSAT/NMSQT

    The PSAT/NMSQT assesses reading, math, and writing skills, provides practice for the SAT, and connects students to online tools geared to help them with their areas of weakness. Students who take the PSAT in the 11th grade may be eligible for scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship program and other programs that use PSAT/NMSQT scores. The PSAT has the same format as the SAT and evaluates the same skills, and students get a custom SAT study plan based on their PSAT results. They also get feedback on how ready they are for college and tools that can help them improve.

    The PSAT test is given to juniors every October on a national test date, and YHS is allowed to set the test dates for sophomores and freshmen. All 9th-11th students will be given the opportunity to register. Any homeschooled students who wish to take this test will need to register with the Counselor's Office by calling 361-293-3442. Testing dates for the 2017-2018 school year are as follows:

    Wednesday, October 11 - Juniors
    Monday, February 26 - Sophomores and Freshmen


    The PSAT costs $16. Checks can be made out to Yoakum High School.

    More information about the PSAT can be found by going to www.collegeboard.org.

    SAT

    The SAT is a college admission test that assesses students' knowledge of reading, writing and math. Colleges use these scores in making admissions decisions along with high school grades and other factors. The SAT is split into three sections. The critical reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions. The mathematics section includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability. The writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage. SAT scores are calculated by awarding one point for correct answers and deducting 1/4 of a point for incorrect answers. No deductions are made for questions left unanswered. Scores are reported on a 200 (low) to 800(high) scale. Verbal and math scores are then added together to gain a composite score.

    More information about the SAT can be found by going to www.collegeboard.org.

    There is a new SAT mobile app that provides daily SAT practice for students. With it, students will receive an official sample question daily and get immediate feedback and explanations of the correct answer. Students can also scan their completed SAT practice test answer sheets and get their scores in seconds. More information can be found at www.collegeboard.org.

    ACT

    Like the SAT, the ACT is also a college entrance exam. Colleges use it to determine admission, along with high school grades and other factors. The ACT is made up of multiple choice tests in English, math, reading, and science, along with an optional writing test. Scores on the ACT range from 1 (low) to 36 (high) for each of the four tests, which are averaged together to compute a composite score. Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, and there is no deduction for wrong answers. Students who are strong in science may want to take the ACT instead of the SAT, as their score could be higher because of the added science portion.

    More information about the ACT can be found by going to www.actstudent.org.

    When to Take the Exams and How to Register

    Students should take the SAT and/or ACT at the end of their junior year. This allows them time to receive scores and possibly retest before they apply to college during the fall semester of their senior year. If planning to apply to a 4 year university, students should choose to take the essay portion of the SAT or ACT. Students can check the individual university's admissions website to make sure this is a requirement. When signing up for the SAT or ACT, students will be asked for a high school code. Yoakum High School's code is 447702. They will also be asked to choose up to 4 colleges to send their scores to. It is important that students choose all 4 schools they think they may want to apply to because it is free to send scores to four colleges when registering for the test. However, after the test has been taken, the SAT or ACT will charge students to send their scores to colleges. We suggest that students send to their university picks as well as some local junior colleges in case they don't get in to the university right away, change their mind, or decide to take summer classes at a junior college, etc. Someone in the Counselor's Office can help students register for these exams if needed.

    Register for the SAT at www.collegeboard.org

    Register for the ACT at www.actstudent.org

    SAT/ACT Preparation

    The PSAT is good preparation for the SAT, as the format and questions are similar. Students may sign up for the PSAT during junior and/or sophomore year. The counseling office may have some SAT/ACT practice tests available. The SAT/ACT sends these out each year at the beginning of the year, and they are on a first come, first serve basis. There are also a few free practice websites and many websites that charge various fees for practice tests, flashcards, and other study tools. Here are a few free practice websites:

    Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment

    The TSI is another college entrance exam that is typically used for students entering junior colleges or vocational schools or students who plan to enroll in dual credit high school courses. It has a math, reading, and writing portion and is taken on the computer. The TSI is offered on various junior college campuses, including Victoria College and Blinn in Schulenburg. See the Counselor's Office for more information about this test, as it is still very new!