College Counseling

Frequently Asked Questions

College Testing FAQs

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: How should I choose between the SAT I or ACT?

    Spence offers all students a free diagnostic SAT or ACT (or both) in the spring of sophomore year, which is administered at Spence by Academic Approach (766 Madison Ave at 66th Street, tel. 212-348-4172). You should choose whichever test feels more comfortable to you. If this is not obvious to you, you should call Academic Approach for help interpreting your results. Many students prefer the SAT I because they can reason the answers without knowing a lot of specific information; others prefer the ACT because it tests specific subject knowledge in a more straightforward way (including a science section which contains physics questions) although it is a faster-paced test.
  • Q: When and how should I prepare for the SAT I or ACT?

    Once you take your diagnostic test at Spence, you will receive your own personal on-line test prep account through Academic Approach (purchased for all students by Spence). This will enable you to begin review on your own time over the summer before your junior year and keep track of your results. Spence recommends that students begin test prep in the second trimester of junior year, so that they can spend first trimester getting a good start in their classes and extra-curriculars. We have engaged Academic Approach to teach both SAT and ACT prep classes at Spence on ten Saturday mornings plus three more diagnostic tests, beginning after Thanksgiving and continuing until the final test date in May or June. Thanks to contributions from both Academic Approach and Spence, tuition is very moderate and financial aid is available. Other students may prefer instead to engage a private tutor or take a course off-campus on a different day or time.
  • Q: How do I choose which SAT Subject Tests to take, and when?

    Take them in your best subjects. Many Spence students take all of their subject tests in the humanities or all in math and science. Play to your strengths, wherever they lie. Take the test when you have completed the necessary coursework in the subject.
  • Q: How many SAT Subject Tests should I take?

    Many highly selective colleges require two SAT Subject Tests, even if the applicant submits an ACT score. Only Georgetown requires three subject tests (but the third can be taken senior year, even after submitting your application). There is no need to submit extra tests because the quality of a Spence education is well known by colleges.
  • Q: Should at least one of my SAT Subject Tests be in math or science?

    No, unless you are applying to engineering or pre-med programs, in which case you need both—and preferably, level 2 of the Math test. Chemistry or Physics is specifically recommended for engineering applicants.
  • Q: How and when should I register for SAT and ACT tests?

    By the beginning of junior year, each student should create an account on the College Board Web site (as well as the ACT Web site, if she intends to take it). This will enable you to receive useful reminders of test registration deadlines (typically one month before the test date), as well as provide access to study materials. Students can check a box to have duplicates of all emails sent to a parent’s address as well, but the student needs to be in control of the account.

    Spence is an SAT I and II test center (for Spence students only) for the October, March, May and June test dates. As long as a Spence student registers by the deadline on the College Board website, she will be able to select Spence as her test center.
  • Q: Do all colleges honor the SAT Score Choice policy?

    No, a few of the most selective colleges require students to submit all of their SAT or ACT tests (just as all students did in the years prior to score choice). Don’t let this hinder you from taking a test, as long as you have done some preparation.
  • Q: Is it possible to take AP exams even though Spence does not follow the AP curriculum?

    Colleges know that Spence does not offer an AP curriculum and do not look for AP scores from our students; instead, they admit our students based on SAT I, ACT and/or SAT II scores. Very few of our students submit AP scores, including those admitted to the most selective colleges in the country. Nonetheless, strong English and World Languages students often have success on the AP exams as juniors without any preparation other than reviewing the format of the exam (in addition to any review they might do for the SAT II in that subject). A few students take the US History AP exam. Some seniors take AP exams in any subjects of their strength in case their college offers advanced credit for them (although few colleges other than Georgetown are doing so these days).