College Entrance Exams

Students may need to take at least one college entrance test, such as the SAT or the American College Testing (ACT) exam, for admission into a four-year college. Colleges often use scores from these standardized national tests to evaluate if students are academically ready for college-level work.

SAT School Day

To support students to take these critical college access exams, the Department of Education will offer SAT to all students in grade 11 as a key part of College Access for All. These tests, are free of charge when students take them on a regular school day ( SAT School Day). If a student takes the SAT exam on a weekend, the cost is $49.50.

By offering this exam during a regular school day, the DOE ensures that students do not miss taking these important college entrance exams. Weekend testing may be difficult for some students because of schedule conflicts, family responsibilities, financial barriers, and traveling to an unfamiliar test location.

Learn more at our SAT School Day page.

Who takes these tests?

Students in eleventh grade take the SAT.

When are these tests given?

Students usually take the SAT twice: once in eleventh grade and often again in twelfth grade, and the College Board offers the SAT several times per year. The DOE offers SAT School Day on a regular school day in the spring. Refer to the Testing Calendar link, or speak to your child’s school, to find the specific dates for this school year.

New for Fall 2021 only, schools will offer the SAT School Day in October to students in Grade 12 who inform them that they wish to take the exam. If you would like to take the exam during the school day in October, please notify your school by September 14th. If you miss this deadline, please notify your school to see if it is still possible for you to participate in the school day exam. 

What is on the tests?

The SAT is a multiple choice and optional essay test that measures a student’s reading, math, and writing skills. It has two required sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. There is also an essay section, which is optional and not included on SAT School Day.

Most colleges do not require the essay as part of their admissions requirements. Encourage your child to research the College Board website to see if the college of their choice requires the essay. If your child does need to take the essay portion of the test, they can retake the SAT at one of the weekend test sites.

How is the test scored?

On the SAT, the evidence-based reading/writing section and the math section are each scored on a 200- to 800-point scale for a combined score of 400 to 1600 points. For information on interpreting your child’s test scores, see the College Board website.

How are the results reported?

Students can access SAT test score reports if they have a College Board account. Encourage your child to speak to their school counselor if they need assistance with creating a student account. Students can send their SAT score to up to four colleges for free within nine days of taking the exam. After this window, there is a cost for sending scores to colleges. Speak to your child’s counselor to see if your child qualifies to send scores to an unlimited amount of colleges for free.

How are the results used?

Some colleges require SAT or ACT scores as part of the college application. In addition to college entrance exam scores, some colleges will also review your child’s grades, class rank, rigor of classes, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendations, college essays, and college interview. While colleges often look at all these elements of the application to evaluate your child’s readiness to succeed at their college, many colleges and universities have established temporary admissions policies that do not require standardized test scores. For questions about test-optional and test-consult with your child’s counselor.

View CUNY and SUNY admissions profiles to see average SAT scores for local colleges. Speak with your child’s school counselor to determine what colleges of interest require these exams. In addition, to learn more about the college application process please visit the College and Career Planning pages.

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