Important SAT/ACT/PSAT/AP Exams Information
May 6, 2021
June 5, 2021
March 12, 2021
April 17, 2021
November 27, 2020
January 26, 2021
November 13, 2020
May 3-7, 2021 and
May 10-14, 2021
Who: Only juniors and seniors are eligible to take these exams. In order to be classified as a junior a student must have at least 12 credits. For example, a third year student who only has 11.5 credits would not be eligible to take these exams.
What: The SAT and ACT are both used as part of the application process for colleges. Students can take both and submit both scores to the same college but only one is required. Always check the specific requirements for the college you are interested in applying to before taking these exams. With regards to the SAT, colleges only require the SAT exam. However, students have the option of taking additional exams called SAT Subject Tests that include subject content not assessed on the SAT. The students may sign up for any and all subject tests but subject tests may not be taken the same day as the SAT and would require a separate registration, additional test fees, and separate test date. The subject tests may be beneficial for students that already know their career path and are applying to specific programs in college that prefer/require the additional assessments or if a student really excels in a specific subject and want to showcase their strengths. Either way, please always check with the specific colleges and/or programs to determine the requirements regarding SAT subject tests.
Where: These exams are offered nationwide at SAT and ACT approved testing centers. Gonzales High School is very fortunate to be an approved testing center for both the SAT and the ACT which allows students to be able to take these exams at Gonzales High School. It is important to understand that even though GISD employees are facilitating the administrations of these tests, these individuals are contracted employees of SAT and ACT and do not represent GISD on testing days. This means that calculators are not allowed to be given to students on test days and so students must make arrangements prior to test day to check out a calculator from a math teacher. Also, photo ID's and test admission tickets are still required even though we may know the student personally. Questions or concerns regarding test days should be directed to the test center supervisor directly to SAT and/or ACT. Contact information is always available on their websites.
When: These exams are offered on Saturdays according to the national testing schedule. The Gonzales High School testing center offers the SAT and ACT twice a year. Both tests are offered in the fall and then again in the spring. It is recommended that students arrive at the test center by 7:45 a.m., unless your Admission Ticket says otherwise. The doors to the testing center close at 8 a.m. and once testing has begun, latecomers will not be admitted.
It is recommended for juniors to take the exams for the first time in the spring. By taking the exam in the spring of their junior year they have had one more year of exposure to the curriculum and therefore should be better prepared for the exam. Over 65% of students that retake the exam score higher the second time. Therefore, students should retake the exam in the fall of their senior year which still allows them time to submit their applications for college.
Why: The SAT and/or ACT exams open doors to college but there are other benefits. The exams are structured to measure a student’s academic achievement and academic readiness for college. Score reports are an excellent benchmark for assessing students’ academic achievement and abilities. The scores may be used for determining course placement in college. If a student is not academically ready for college level courses they are placed in remedial courses until they reach college readiness standards. Scoring high enough on the SAT and/or ACT allows students to skip remedial coursework and immediately start with freshman level courses which saves time and money. (Note: the TSI is the placement exam all colleges use to determine which classes a student will start taking in college.)
In order to register for these exams students must create a student account which allows access to education/career planning tools that benefit the student and informs colleges about more than just academic readiness but includes their accomplishments in high school and future plans. The student’s strengths and weaknesses are identified in the different subject areas which can help direct a student’s future education and allows the student to seek additional support in needed areas.
Scholarship and financial aid opportunities are also associated with these exams and students are able to choose to share their information with colleges for access to even more opportunities. When a student chooses to share their information with colleges it is possible for colleges to seek out students they are interested in and/or offer scholarship opportunities.
In addition, both SAT and ACT offer exam preparation resources. The SAT offers video lessons and personalized study resources based on their results from the test via the free Khan Academy. This feature not only helps with their performance on these exams but also has the potential to help students master the content in their high school coursework. It’s like getting free tutoring!
How: Students have to register for these exams online through the test’s websites by first creating an account and then following the directions to register. For the SAT the students will need to go to www.collegeboard.org and for the ACT they will need to go to www.act.org. Neither Gonzales High School nor the test center supervisor can register students online, but will have resources available to assist with this process. Ultimately though, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure their information entered during registration is correct, complete, and submitted.
Some common mistakes when registering are: selecting the wrong test date, test center, test type (SAT or SAT Subject tests), choosing the wrong essay option, and not entering their legal name but rather using a shortened version or nickname. Students should double check all of this information before submitting their registration and then double check their information in their online account and on their test admission ticket. If a student finds a mistake, they need to notify the company as soon as possible.
It is extremely important that the student’s photo meets all the requirements. If a student’s photo does not meet all of the requirements set by the the testing companies, they are not allowed to test. Some common mistakes regarding students photos and why they are not allowed to test are: the student’s entire face and shoulders are not visible, can’t see both eyes (this is usually because their hair is hiding one), the student is wearing a hat or something that blocks the top of their head such as a hoodie, and/or the picture itself is dark or blurry.
Please note that neither Gonzales High School nor the test center supervisor has access to change a student’s password if it is forgotten. Students will have to use the “I forgot my password” option for regaining access to their account. Usually this process will entail checking their email for the information to reset their password. It is very important to note that these companies will use email as their main source of communication. All high school students are provided with a school email address that may be utilized. Parents, you will also receive information from the companies so make sure and use a valid email address.
Cost: Both exams cost around $45 and around $60 if taking the exam with the essay. The essay is optional but most colleges make this a requirement. The best approach is to check with the individual college for their specific requirements for admission. With regards to payment options, students paying for their exam must pay online using one of the available methods including: credit card, pay pal, check, money order, or bank draft. However, there are two questions to consider before paying for an exam. Has Gonzales High School paid for one of these exams and do I qualify for a fee waiver?
Gonzales High School supports further education and therefore will pay for one test, either the SAT or ACT, if the test is taken at Gonzales High School in the spring of their junior year.
When Gonzales High School is paying for the exam the processes are slightly different depending on the test. For the SAT exam, students have to complete their registration using the paper registration form which is available at the AP/Counseling office. All completed forms must be returned to the AP/Counseling office because all paper registration forms have to be mailed together. Even though Gonzales High School is mailing the registration forms, it is still the student’s responsibility to make sure information is entered correctly and the photo meets requirements. ***Please note, if the school pays for the SAT exam, students are not allowed to add on any additional services such as additional score reports or answer verifications. For the ACT, the student will ask for a voucher from the AP/Counseling office and then use the voucher number during the online registration process.
Fee Waivers: The other factor to consider with regards to paying for these exams is the possibility of qualifying for a fee waiver which means the student would not pay the exam fee even if they take the optional essay. Registration using a fee waiver is done online. If the student would like additional services they would be responsible for those fees. There are also other benefits for students that qualify for a fee waiver such as extra score reports, free applications to college, early access to SAT’s test prep tools and ACT’s test prep programs are free.
The following factors are considered when determining eligibility for fee waivers: low family income, receiving government assistance, placement in foster care, ward of the state, or homelessness. If a student qualifies for the free/reduced lunch program they are automatically eligible for a fee waiver. The application for the free/reduced lunch program can be found on the Gonzales ISD website under departments/food service/free and reduced school lunch program. You simply click on the big red apple and follow the directions for completing the application. The application for the free and reduced lunch program must be completed every year. Families with more than one child attending school in the district only have to submit one application for all the children.
Students that qualify for the free/reduced lunch program do not have to stay on campus for lunch if they have off campus privileges. Fee waivers are only available through school counselors.
What is the difference?
School Code for Gonzales High School
Test Center Code for Gonzales High School
All US Colleges
All US Colleges
$52.00/$68.00 with essay
$55/$70.00 with essay
What students learn in high school and what they need to succeed in college
What students learn in high school
Tests Offered Per Year
About 4 weeks before
About 5 weeks before
Late Registration Deadline
About 11 days before
20+ days before
Late Registration Fees
Total Testing Time
Plus 50 minutes
with optional essay
2 hours 55 minutes
Plus 40 minutes
with optional essay
3 tests + optional essay
4 tests + optional essay
Number of Questions
Time Per Question
1 minute 10 seconds
Test Components and Timing
65 minutes/52 questions
35 minutes/40 questions
35 minutes/44 questions
45 minutes/75 questions
80 minutes/58 questions
Calculators are NOT allowed on one section
60 minutes/60 questions
35 minutes/40 questions
Some Math Formulas Provided
Essay is optional
YES (50 minutes)
YES ( 40 minutes)
Penalty for Guessing
Essay in 3 dimensions
each scored 2-8
Essay scored 2-12
Free Practice Questions
Free Test Prep
YES (Khan Academy)
YES (ACT Academy)
Free Downloadable Practice Tests
Yes (multiple tests with instant scoring)
Mobile App That Instantly Scores Paper Tests
For Eligible Students
Waivers Cover Late Fees
Total of 8 reports
(4 limited-time reports &
4 reports used any time before graduation)
Four Free College Applications
Score Services Included
Score Verification Reduces Fee
End of August each year
Which one should I take?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question but there are a few factors to consider when choosing:
- Time and Pacing: SAT offers slightly more time per test question
- Science is only offered on the ACT and if this is a strength then the ACT might be best
- The SAT could be better for students whose strengths are in reading and language arts
- One section of the SAT does NOT allow a calculator to be used
The choice really comes down to preference, but everyone agrees that taking both tests allows students to actually experience the differences and then decide which test(s) they would like to retake. Remember that over 65% of students score better the second time they take the test.