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FAQs: SAT, ACT, AP Exams

What are the SAT, PSAT, AP, and ACT exams?

Exams such as the SAT, the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT10, SAT II Subject tests, and AP standardized exams used throughout the country are created and regulated by a private company called the College Board ( The ACT is run by a different company (ACT - 

College Board Exams
  • The SAT is an exam used by colleges to predict how well a student might do in the first semester, and to compare that applicant with others. The SAT tests reading, writing, and mathematical aptitude.
  • The PSAT/NMSQT is a preparatory, or practice, exam for the SAT. This is also the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship.
  • The PSAT 10 is a PSAT (practice for the SAT) for 10th grade students.
  • The Advanced Placement (AP) program is designed to offer college level course work in the high school level. Curriculum for AP classes is approved by the College Board and is designed to prepare students for an AP exam offered in May. Colleges may grant college credit for a high score on these exams.
ACT Exams
  • The ACT is an exam very similar to the SAT and used for the same reasons. The major distinction is that the ACT includes a Science section.
  • The Pre-ACT is a practice exam for the ACT.

What do colleges do with scores from these exams?

Colleges often use the scores from these exams as a measure of college readiness, or in the case of AP exams, some colleges may grant credits for high scores. Each college views these exams differently and has different requirements for which scores need to be submitted and how much weight they give that score in the college admissions process. Many colleges are also "test optional," which means that it's your decision whether or not to submit your SAT or ACT score - doing so is not required.

How much does it cost to take these exams?

Costs for the 2018-2019 school year:

  • AP Exams: $94 each
  • SAT Subject Tests: $26 per test date
  • SAT: $47.50 without essay; $64.50 with essay
  • PSAT/NMSQT: IHS offers this test to students free of charge
  • PSAT 10: $16
  • ACT: $49.50 without writing; $58.50 with writing
  • Pre-ACT: $12 (not currently offered at IHS)

Fee waivers are available for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. See Jay Barnes in the College & Career Office for information on how to obtain a fee waiver. 

Are testing accommodations available for these tests?

Because the College Board is a separate entity from the school district, testing accommodations offered through a student’s IEP or 504 are not automatically applied. You must apply to the College Board and ACT for testing accommodations. Information and applications are available for download below. Please submit completed applications to the Special Education Office and to the College Board or ACT for approval. Only approved accommodations can be used in College Board and ACT exams.