College entrance tests are used by most colleges for admissions purposes. (You can read an overview in the previous post.) Want to understand each test in detail? Read the profiles below.

The SAT

Overview

The SAT is a three-hour knowledge and reasoning test. It has three required portions: reading, writing and language, and math. The optional timed essay section adds another 50 minutes. The math portion is in two sections: authorized calculator and no calculator. Each section includes algebra, geometry, trigonometry, problem solving, and data analysis.

Scoring

A perfect score is 1600 (not including the optional essay portion, which has a maximum score of 24). Only correct answers are scored; there is no penalty for guessing.

Scheduling

The SAT is offered seven times a year in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June and can be taken an unlimited number of times. Results are available in three weeks by logging into an SAT online account.

Registration

You can register here.  Please note strict registration deadlines, usually a month in advance. When registering for the test, you can designate up to four colleges to receive the score report for free. Consider designating colleges even if your teen has not fully decided to which he or she will apply, as you will have to pay a fee to have any score reports sent later. Colleges only accept scores directly from the test provider.

The nationwide homeschool code is 970000. This ensures that test scores are sent to your home address rather than the testing location.

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The ACT

Overview

The ACT is a subject knowledge test administered in four sections: English, math, reading, and science. Students have 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete it. The optional timed essay section adds another 40 minutes. The math portion requires an authorized calculator and includes algebra, geometry, trigonometry, problem solving, modeling, and statistics and probability.

Scoring

A perfect score is 36 (not including the optional essay portion, which has a maximum score of 12).

Scheduling

The ACT is offered seven times a year in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July and can be taken a maximum of 12 times. Results are available in two to eight weeks by logging into an ACT online account.

Registration

You can register here. Please note strict registration deadlines, usually a month in advance. When registering for the test, you can designate up to four colleges to receive the score report for free. Consider designating colleges even if your teen has not fully decided to which he or she will apply, as you will have to pay a fee to have any score reports sent later. Colleges only accept scores directly from the test provider.

The nationwide homeschool code is 969999. This ensures that test scores are sent to your home address rather than the testing location.

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Choosing between the SAT and ACT

Despite many similarities, the ACT and SAT have some differences. This could mean that your student will perform better on one than on the other.

The SAT emphasizes logic and reasoning; questions are complex, but students have an average of 1 minute and 10 seconds to spend on each one. Although the questions on the ACT are more straightforward and may be easier to understand, students have less average time to complete them: 49 seconds each. Some other differences—in subjects covered, testing times, and scoring—are described above. Perhaps most notably, the ACT includes a science section, which the SAT doesn’t offer.

One way to choose is to have your student take the full official SAT and ACT practice tests (offered by the publishers) in order to see which one results in their best performance. (This webpage compares SAT, ACT, and CLT scores.)

Much depends on which tests are accepted by the colleges your teen wants to attend—many colleges accept both and some even accept all three. We encourage teens to try different entrance exams to see which they perform best on!

The CLT

Overview

The Classic Learning Test (CLT) measures reasoning, skills, and academic ability. The two-hour test has three required sections: verbal reasoning, grammar/writing, and quantitative reasoning. The optional essay portion adds another 30 minutes.

To clarify the test name and avoid a misconception, a classical education is not necessary to do well on this test:

The classic of the Classic Learning Test does not refer specifically to classical education, but to classic, referring to texts which have stood the test of time. Many of the texts include an element of moral reasoning. Any student raised with a perspective on ethics would be familiar with the concepts presented on the exam. (https://www.cltexam.com/faq)

Some have described the CLT as “refreshing” when compared to the ACT and SAT. The inclusion of great works of literature, an absence of political or cultural bias, and no apparent effort to “trip up” the test taker result in a test that “cultivates truth, beauty, and goodness” (as one reviewer describes it). Pretty high praise for a test—it just might be worth looking into.

Some colleges that accept this test also require the SAT or ACT for comparison. Colleges do award scholarships based on CLT scores. Check directly with your student’s colleges of interest.

Scoring

A perfect score is 120. While the optional essay is not graded, it is attached to the CLT score report sent to colleges. This provides admission officers an unedited sample of the applicant’s writing ability.

Scheduling

The CLT is offered five times a year in May, October, December, February, and April, and there is no limit to how many times it can be taken. Results are available electronically within 24 hours and CLT offers optional student analytics, which provide comprehensive insights into students’ areas of strength and weakness and sample problems that can help prepare for future tests.

Registration

You can register here any time up to four days in advance of a test date. There is no charge to send scores to your student’s college choices. CLT suggests that you also send your results to colleges that do not accept the test. (These colleges may find the scores useful and decide to accept the test in the future.) Colleges only accept scores directly from the test provider.

Since there are fewer testing centers for the CLT, you might not find a convenient testing location. If that is the case, your homeschool group can apply to become a testing center.

Test day

The CLT is an online test and requires students to bring their own laptop or tablet to the test center. Make sure your teen’s device has the necessary software and hardware and is fully charged. All devices must be internet compatible. We recommend that students take the free online practice test in advance to ensure that their device can run the actual test.

The CLT10

The CLT10 is a scaled-back version of the regular CLT (no trigonometry and few “level 5” questions). Students who score within the top 1% are eligible for $2,500 in scholarship money through CLT’s partnership with the National Association of Scholars. The CLT10 is offered for free three times a year and can be taken online at home.

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