PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is given in October to our sophomores and juniors, and Deerfield handles the registration. You do not need to sign up for the PSAT. Scores from the junior year are used for National Merit Scholarship Qualification (NMSQT), and are for student, advisor and parent reference only. These scores are not sent to colleges.
SAT I is the most common college admission exam in the Northeast. The exam consists of critical reading, mathematics, and writing sections, and requires four hours to complete. It is administered six times a year on campus between October and June.
SAT Subject Tests are often referred to as SAT IIs. These are one-hour, multiple choice exams that test your knowledge of specific academic subject areas such as foreign language, math, sciences, history, and English literature. Students can choose which tests to take and the tests are offered six times per year, on the same dates as the SAT except in March when only the SAT is offered. Foreign language subject tests include a listening section only on the November exam. Many highly selective colleges require two (and very rarely three) SAT subject tests in addition to the SAT I (or ACT—see below). However, many colleges don’t require any subject tests. It is important to know whether or not you will need subject tests (and which tests you may need) so be sure to check the admission websites of the colleges you are considering. Although three subject tests can be taken in one sitting, we recommend that you sit for only one or two at a time because it is difficult to be well prepared to take three at once.
ACT (American College Test) is an alternative to the SAT and more popular than the SAT in many parts of the country. It is a content-based test with sections on reading, English, math, science, and writing. The ACT requires students to answer more questions in less time than the SAT, so speed is important. Many students find the test more straightforward. Research shows that 60% of students do about the same on both tests, 20% do better on the ACT, and 20% do better on the SAT, so it may be worth taking both to see which test is better for you. (Learn more about the differences between the tests.) Students can submit the ACT instead of the SAT I, the SAT subject tests, or both, depending on the college’s application requirements. All colleges accept the ACT and have no preference between the ACT and SAT.
We offer a free ACT practice test each February for students who would like to try it to see if it might be a better test for them. The ACT is offered in September, December, and April at Deerfield. Most students will use the May and June test dates to take subject tests. The May date falls just before AP exams, and the June test date falls at the end of exam week. Plan carefully so you can spread the tests out and prepare adequately.