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Guidance/College & Career - Standardized Testing
Applying for Extended Time
Read BSM’s policies and procedures in regard to applying for extended time on the PSAT, SAT and AP exams (Collegeboard exams) and/or the ACT. Students with special needs may be eligible for extended time on standardized tests but they must submit appropriate applications and be approved by the testing agencies.
EXPLORE and PLAN
The EXPLORE and PLAN tests are practice tests for the ACT (college entrance exam). Results from the EXPLORE and PLAN help students determine the academic areas in which they need improvement, and can be used to predict success on the ACT. The multiple-choice sections on the EXPLORE and PLAN cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science.
The EXPLORE is administered to all BSM freshmen in October. The PLAN is administered to all BSM sophomores in October of each year.
The PSAT test is a practice test for the SAT (college entrance exam). Results from the PSAT help students determine the academic areas in which they need improvement, and can be used to predict success on the SAT. The multiple choice sections on the PSAT cover three areas: reading skills, writing and language skills and math skills. In addition to being a practice test for the SAT, the PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Top-scorers in the nation may be recognized by the National Merit Corporation as National Merit Commended Scholars or National Merit Semifinalists.
The PSAT is administered to all BSM juniors in October of each year.
The ACT is one of the two standardized tests used by colleges in the admission process. The multiple-choice sections on the ACT cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The Writing Test, which is optional, measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.
BSM is a national test center for the ACT in June and October. The test is also offered in December, February, and April at other locations in Minnesota. Students can choose to take the ACT, the SAT reasoning test, or both tests. All colleges in the United States will accept either test for admission purposes. If students choose to take the ACT, BSM recommends that students take the ACT for the first time in the winter or spring of junior year.
Students must register to take the ACT. Deadlines for registration are typically five weeks before the date of the test. Registration can be done online at www.actstudent.org. When registering, students must include BSM’s school code: 242202. See “Guidance Important Dates” on our website for tests dates and registration deadlines.
SAT Reasoning Test
The SAT Reasoning test is one of the two standardized tests used by colleges in the admissions process. The multiple choice sections on the SAT cover three skill areas: reading skills, writing and language skills and math skills. There is also an optional writing test (optional beginning March 2016) administered at the end of the exam that measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.
BSM is a national test center for the SAT Reasoning test in June and October. The test is also offered in November, December, January, March, and May at other locations in Minnesota. Students can choose to take the ACT, the SAT reasoning test, or both. All colleges in the United States will accept either test for admission purposes. If students choose to take the SAT reasoning test, BSM recommends that they take the test for the first time toward the end of junior year.
Students must register to take the SAT reasoning test. Deadlines for registration are four to six weeks before the date of the test. Registration can be done online at www.sat.collegeboard.org or by picking up a paper registration form in the guidance office. When registering, students must include BSM’s school code: 242202. See “Guidance Important Dates” on our website for tests dates and registration deadlines.
SAT Subject Tests
SAT Subject Tests are designed to measure your knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, as well as your ability to apply that knowledge.
Students take the Subject Tests to demonstrate to colleges their mastery of specific subjects like English, history, mathematics, science, and language. The tests are independent of any particular textbook or method of instruction. The tests' content evolves to reflect current trends in high school curricula, but the types of questions change little from year to year.
The most selective colleges (about 100) use the Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Used in combination with other background information (your high school record, scores from other tests like the SAT Reasoning Test, teacher recommendations, etc.), they provide a dependable measure of your academic achievement and are a good predictor of future performance.
Some colleges specify the Subject Tests they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. Before deciding which tests to take, make a list of the colleges you're considering. Then review school websites to find out whether the schools require scores for admission and, if so, how many tests and in which subjects.
Most students at BSM take Subject Tests toward the end of their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year. Taking the subject tests as soon as possible after completing a course is advised. Some students who are on the accelerated math track choose to take the corresponding math subject test as early as the end of sophomore year. Also, because juniors take United States History and Chemistry, they may want to take the U.S. History or Chemistry subject tests at the end of junior year rather than waiting until fall of senior year.
Advanced Placement Courses and Exams
Description of Advanced Placement Courses:
AP courses are taught according to the curriculum prescribed by the College Board. They are college-level courses that offer a smooth transition from high school to college due to the strong academic skills, knowledge, and the academic confidence students gain through participation. The courses are recognized nationally by colleges, and offer an opportunity to receive college credit or advanced standing depending on the credit policy of specific colleges.
Access to AP Courses:
There are prerequisites for all of the AP courses offered at BSM. Please see the course descriptions in the BSM Program of Studies or on the BSM website.
What students taking advanced placement courses should know:
- Students must commit to staying in an AP course all year (students are strongly encouraged to take both semester-long government courses).
- Because these are rigorous college-level courses, students need to be prepared for a demanding workload and more stringent grading.
- Students must be able to work and study independently. Not everything on class exams as well as the AP exam will be covered in class discussions.
- Students cannot take an AP course on a pass/no pass basis.
- Students may be asked to do summer reading or other summer assignments.
- Students should expect to prepare for and take the AP exam that is offered at BSM in May.
Benefits of taking advanced placement courses (taken from the Bulletin for AP Students and Parents):
1. Gain an edge in college preparation
- Get a head start on exactly the sort of work you will confront in college
- Improve your writing skills and sharpen your problem-solving techniques
- Develop the study habits necessary for tackling rigorous course work
2. Stand out in the college admissions process
- Demonstrate your maturity and readiness for college
- Show your willingness to push yourself to the limit
- Emphasize your commitment to academic excellence
3. Broaden your intellectual horizons
- Explore the world from a variety of perspectives, most importantly your own
- Study subjects in greater depth and detail
- Assume the responsibility of reasoning, analyzing, and understanding
AP Exam Information:
1. Explanation of exams: AP exams represent the culmination of AP courses, and are thus an integral part of the AP program. Each exam is based on the subject matter of the AP course. AP exams contain multiple choice questions and a free-response section.
2. Cost: This changes from year to year.
3. Exam Schedule: The exam schedule is available here.
4. Scoring of exams: Exams are scored by professors, AP teachers, and trained consultants who use college-level grading standards. Each AP exam grade is a weighted combination of the student’s score on the multiple choice section and free-response section. Individual colleges and universities, not the College Board or the AP Program, grant course credit and placement. Because it varies from school to school, and by subject, you should obtain a college’s AP policy in writing. The final grade is reported on a 5-point scale:
|5 = extremely well qualified
4 = well qualified
3 = qualified
2 = possibly qualified
1 = no recommendation
5. Benefits of taking AP Exams:
- Again, the courses are recognized nationally by colleges, and offer an opportunity to receive college credit or advanced standing depending on the credit policy of specific colleges. Credits earned can save tuition dollars!
- Taking AP exams will strengthen a student’s ability to handle pressure and manage time in regard to test taking.
- Taking an AP exam will give a student a better understanding of what he or she will need to do to succeed on a college exam.