Standardized Testing

At the most highly selective colleges/universities in the US, standardized testing remains an important factor in admission decisions. A few institutions downplay the importance of scores, and some have eliminated test requirements entirely, but those institutions are still in the minority. Because standardized testing is important at most colleges (regardless of what they may tell you in an information session), it is critical that you understand testing requirements.​

Questions about Testing?

Ms. Donnally Drake
edonnallydrake@deerfield.edu
Academic Dean’s Office, Boyden Library Room 212

Fall 2020 Information

Health and Safety Protocols

Deerfield Academy prioritizes the health and safety of Deerfield students and employees. Therefore, the Academy is taking the following precautions for standardized testing:

  • Prioritizing health and safety in the location and set up for testing
  • Limiting the number of tests open to students outside of DA
  • Reducing the number of students who can test per date
  • In accordance with SAT and ACT guidelines, requiring masks for all students and proctors for the duration of testing
  • Encouraging students in class of 2024, 2023, and 2022 to delay any testing planned for fall 2020

The ACT

The ACT has allowed Deerfield to be a “closed” test center, which means that only Deerfield students can register for these exams at Deerfield.  We are working with ACT to be a test center for two ACT test administrations held this fall – October 10 and October 24 (September 12 has been canceled).  Starting the last week of July, students can register for these exams online at https://www.act.org/  and please note that Deerfield Academy must be listed as your current high school to see those Deerfield only administrations.  We are aware that the ACT is adding additional testing dates, but these will be the only two testing dates we will host on campus.  To maintain the best-case scenario of health for our school, off-campus travel will not be approved during September and our travel policy for the reminder of the fall term is still unknown; thus, at this time students will not be allowed to travel to other test sites on other dates.  If you need to take the ACT this fall, please sign up just for these two dates.  Lastly, ACT has canceled plans to administer section-only testing for this academic cycle while it deals with the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SAT and SAT Subject Tests

College Board (the agency that administers the SAT) has not allowed Deerfield to be a closed test center for its regularly scheduled Saturday exam dates this fall.  However, we can be a ‘Deerfield only’ test site if we administer weekday testing.  Therefore, with an eye towards our community’s health, two out of the three testing dates at Deerfield will be held on a Wednesday this fall.  Our fall SAT dates are Wednesday, September 23 (SAT I Only); and Saturday, November 7 (SAT I and Subject Tests).

We encourage the classes of 2024, 2023, and 2022 to wait to take any SAT or ACT until December 2020 or later to allow priority for the Class of 2021 and to reduce testing numbers for health and safety of our community.

Fall 2020 Deerfield Academy Standardized Testing Schedule

TestTest DateRegistration DeadlineRegistration LinkAdditional Info
SAT ISeptember 23August 14Deadline passedDA Students Only
ACTOctober 10September 17ACTDA Students Only
ACTOctober 24September 17ACTDA Students Only
PSATOctober 17September 11

PSAT

(Juniors are automatically registered.)

DA Students Only
     

*Please note that there are December ACT and SAT test dates. Students can register for those tests at a testing site near their home.

Testing Information and Resources

New SAT Overview (beginning with March 2016 test)

Helpful Links

Fee Waivers

Juniors and seniors who qualify for a fee waiver should contact Ms. Frank for a special code to register online. Fee waivers do not cover late registration fees.

Students with Accommodations

If you require accommodations for standardized testing, contact Mrs. Koyama. For more information, read our accommodations policy. The process takes 4-6 months, so please plan accordingly.

PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is given each 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, college advisor and parent reference only. These scores are not sent to colleges.  The PSAT is similar in structure and content to the SAT; strong performance on the PSAT might indicate a preference for the SAT when the time comes to choose which test to take in the junior winter/spring.

SAT is one of the two major exams associated with college admissions; the other is the ACT.  Years ago, the SAT was more commonly taken by students on the east or west coasts, and the ACT was primarily taken by students in the Midwest; now there no geographic distinction, and colleges will accept either test with no preference.  The SAT exam consists of reading, mathematics, and writing sections, and requires four hours to complete. It is administered six times a year on campus between October and June.  Beginning in summer 2017, there will be an August test date off campus. Students are responsible for registering themselves for all testing after the PSAT, including the SAT, ACT, and/or Subject Tests.

ACT (American College Test) is an alternative to the SAT and has recently overtaken the SAT as the exam most frequently taken by high school students.  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. Research shows that the large majority of students do about the same on both tests; however, a small number will do better on the ACT or the SAT, so we recommend students take a practice test of each to see which test is preferable, based on a score comparison and the student’s experience with the test format. 

SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple choice exams (offered by the College Board, the same company as the SAT)that test your knowledge of specific academic subject areas such as world languages, math, sciences, history, and English literature. Students can choose which tests to take, if any, 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. Language subject tests include a listening section only on the November exam. Some highly selective colleges require two SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT or ACT. Most colleges don’t require any subject tests, though if you are a strong standardized test taker with solid content knowledge in any of these Subject Test areas, it may be advisable to have a few strong scores to complement your testing profile. It is important to know whether you will need subject tests (and which tests you may need) as you make your testing plans, so be sure to check the admission websites of the colleges you are considering.  (For example, many engineering programs will require applicants to take Math 2 and Physics or Chemistry.) 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.

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT? They’re both standardized tests and they both factor into the college admissions process. To learn about the differences between the two tests and how they compare, take a look at the chart below.

When is it administered?

SAT: Seven times per year

ACT: Six times per year

What is the test structure?

SAT: Ten-section exam: Three Critical Reading, three Math, three Writing, and one Experimental. The Experimental section is masked to look like a regular section.

ACT: Four-section exam: English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning. An Experimental section is added to tests on certain dates only, and is clearly experimental.

What is the test content?

SAT: Math: up to 9th grade basic geometry and Algebra II. Science: none. Reading: sentence completions, short and long critical reading passages, reading comprehension. Writing: an essay, and questions testing grammar, usage, and word choice.

ACT: Math: up to trigonometry. Science: charts, experiments. Reading: four passages, one each of Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. English: stresses grammar.  The ACT Plus Writing is a 30-minute essay test that measures your writing.

Is there a penalty for wrong answers?

SAT: Yes

ACT: No

How is the test scored?

SAT: 200-800 per section, added together for a combined score. A 2400 is the highest possible combined score.

ACT: 1-36 for each subject, averaged for a composite score. A 36 is the highest possible composite score.

Are all scores sent to schools?

SAT: No. Students can select which scores they send to colleges by sitting (test date) for the SAT.  The score-reporting feature is optional–if students do not use it, all scores will be sent automatically.

ACT: No. There is a “Score Choice” option. Students can choose which schools will receive their scores AND which scores the schools will see.

Are there other uses for the exams?

SAT: Scholarship purposes.

ACT: Scholarship purposes. Certain statewide testing programs.

Best time to register?

SAT: At least six weeks before the test date

ACT: At least four weeks before the test date

Which colleges and universities superscore the ACT?

Amherst College, Babson College, University of Colorado, Eckerd College, Elon University, George Washington University, University of Illinois, University of Indiana, Lawrence University, Loyola Marymount University, University of Miami, Northeastern University, Pepperdine University, University of Puget Sound, Stanford University, Washington & Lee University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Wesleyan University.

Need more information?

SAT: The College Board (866) 756-7346

ACT: ACT, Inc.  (319) 337-1270

Deerfield Academy Code is 220685

1.  It is YOUR responsibility to register for ALL standardized tests, except the PSAT and AP exams.

2.  Online registration is the easiest way for most students to sign up for the SAT exams and the ACT exam. You will need a valid major credit card and photo (for the SAT) to register. Be sure to have your scores sent to Deerfield when you register.

3.  Make sure you meet the test registration deadline—standby testing is no longer available for the SAT and subject tests!

4.  International Students should enter their address as Deerfield Academy, 7 Boyden Lane, Deerfield, MA 01342 in order to avoid international charges.

5.  It is vital that you know the testing requirements of each college to which you plan to apply. Note which SAT subject tests (if any) they require and/or if it is a college with a test-optional policy. Consult with your college advisor about which tests to send to which colleges. For example, if a college is test-optional you may choose not to send your scores if they are not competitive.

6.  Always use the exact same name and address when you sign up for any test! If you sign up as John Smith the first time then as W. John Smith the next time, the computer registration and reporting systems will treat you as two different people, which will make sending scores to colleges much more difficult.

7.   Students eligible for extended time testing must see  Deerfield’s testing coordinator, for help with the extended time application process. This must be done as soon as possible because it can take up to six months for execution of the entire process for extended time.

8.  Fee Waivers – If you qualify for a test fee waiver (or think you might) for either test, please see Mrs. Thiel, our test coordinator, to get your code for online registration.

9.  You will receive an admission ticket for all testing sessions. Check the information for accuracy and that you are assigned to the correct testing site. If you are not, or if you have other questions, see Mrs. Thiel well ahead of the test date. Remember to bring your photo ID, admission ticket, and calculator with you to the test.

10. Each time you sit for one of the exams, you will be offered the chance to send your results to a small number of colleges for free. We advise that you do not do this the first time you sit for the exams. Your scores will usually rise in subsequent exams, and it will be best for you to send all of your scores at once when you decide on your final list of where to apply.

Freshman and Sophomore Years

  • Register for and take any SAT subject tests for which you are qualified in June.
  • Sophomores take the PSAT in October. Deerfield will register all students.

Junior Year

  • October – PSAT (Last time Deerfield will register students.)
  • November/December – Some juniors may decide to register for and take the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and/or the ACT.
  • January – Recommended test date for the SAT
  • February- Possible ACT date; may fall over Long Winter Weekend (when DA is closed), so note where you will be.
  • March – SAT test date. The March test date usually falls during spring break so it cannot be taken at Deerfield; register for a test site near home.
  • April – ACT test date
  • May – SAT test date; could be used to take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests.
  •  June –  SAT and ACT offered; usually after school closes, so check dates carefully and plan to test wherever you’ll be.

Your college advisor will help you decide which tests to take and when.  We recommend juniors complete the year with one SAT or ACT and two Subject Tests. Please see the ACT and SAT websites for accurate test dates and registration deadlines.

Senior Year

Retake the SAT, SAT subject tests, and ACT as needed. Early Decision/Early Action applicants can still take the October and November exams and have their scores available for colleges in the early round.

 

The only way for colleges to see your SAT or ACT scores is for you to arrange for official score reports to be sent. Scores do not appear on Deerfield’s transcripts.

  • Colleges require official score reports sent directly to them from the testing agencies. As a rule, they will not accept a copy of the report the agency has sent to you, nor will they accept a copy from Deerfield. Always have an official report sent!
  • Use the correct CEEB code. Every college and other organization (scholarship agencies and the NCAA) that might want to see your scores has a four-digit code listed in the back of the registration booklet or online. The CEEB code for Deerfield is 220685.
  • SAT and ACT registration forms have spaces to put these codes when you register. A certain number of official reports are sent free of charge as part of the price of registration. Do not list any colleges in this space when you take the tests as a junior! Do, however, use the spaces for/during senior test dates, at least for colleges to which you are fairly certain to apply. You can always add others later online. To register for either exam, visit sat.collegeboard.com and/or actstudent.org.
  • Score Choice/Super Scoring. Score Choice gives you the option to choose which scores (by test date for the SAT and by individual test for SAT subject tests) you send to colleges—in accordance with an institution’s stated score-use practice. Almost all colleges will “super score” the SAT, i.e. they will take your best individual reading, math, and writing scores even if they are from different test dates. For example, if you scored a 650 Reading, 680 Math, and 700 Writing in January, then scored a 600 Reading, 720 Math and 650 Writing in October, you should send both score reports and know that most colleges will use 650/720/700 as your scores.
  • Score reports for all SATs are cumulative up to the date of the request. Therefore, if you request a report for the November testing date of your senior year, it will include all tests taken up to that point, both SAT and SAT subject tests unless you use score choice. To send your SAT and SAT subject test scores, visit sat.collegeboard.com/scores.
  • Score reports for the ACT are not cumulative. You must obtain a separate report for each testing date if you would like to send more than one set of ACT scores to colleges. To send ACT scores, visit actstudent.org. Most colleges do not super score the ACT although some are beginning to so be sure to ask the colleges where you are applying what their policy is regarding super scoring the ACT. If they DO super score the ACT you may want to send more than one report to those colleges so they have all of your best scores.
  • Dates by which colleges should have your scores: For students applying under any early decision or early action plan, scores should be sent by November 1st at the latest. However, if you are an early applicant and need to take a test in November, colleges will accept scores from this test date but scores should be sent immediately after the test has been taken. For most students applying regular decision or Round 2 early decision, scores should be sent after the December test date.
  • Rushing Scores: You always have the option to rush scores if you are worried new scores will not arrive in time for a particular decision deadline, but it is the opinion of the college counseling office and most admission officers that rushing scores is not necessary. Remember that scores are sent electronically and arrive instantly so rushed scores will not get there much faster but College Board charges a lot to prey on your anxiety!

Prior to taking an SAT, an ACT, or a Subject Test, the College Advising Office strongly recommends that students spend time preparing.  Students should find the option that works best for their learning style, schedule, and budget. Some students are motivated to prepare on their own, while others may believe that they will not do the necessary preparation unless they have the external motivation that comes from a formal course and instructor. Although there is considerable debate about the benefits of test prep, we have seen enough students raise their scores significantly that we have come to believe that some preparation is valuable.

At the very least, familiarity with the organization and types of questions on any standardized test will be helpful, as it will allow you to focus on the content of the questions without having to spend extra time during the exam to figure out the directions. Some basic and common-sense strategies are useful in preventing extra stress and wasted time during those important hours.  Therefore, at minimum, you should familiarize yourself with the format of the exams by using the booklets with sample questions provided by the College Board and/or the ACT. Preferably you should take a full-length practice test and score it. Look over the questions you answered incorrectly or didn’t answer. Are there specific areas where you are weak and can improve on? Did you budget your time well?

We recommend that students try a practice test of the SAT and the ACT to determine which test they prefer or the test on which they perform better. Once you choose your test, it’s best to focus your energy on preparing for that one test; no college will require or expect both. Once students have determined which test is the best fit for them, we encourage students to find a program or resource that will allow for reasonable, consistent practice and prep.   There are many types of test preparation available.  These include books that students use to prepare on their own, online resources, tutors, and commercial courses.   

Subject Tests: Subject Tests are required or recommended by a small number of selective colleges. Many Deerfield students choose to take a few Subject Tests to demonstrate their command of certain disciplines, even if the test is not required by a certain college. (As always, it’s best to refer to colleges’ websites for their requirements.) The best preparation for the SAT Subject Tests is successful completion of the relevant course.  Of course, students should also familiarize themselves with the test format using a test prep book from the library, amazon, or the bookstore to do their best work. Below are the recommended Deerfield courses to complete before taking the Subject Tests.  Students should consult with their teachers if they have questions about the extent to which a particular course prepares them for an exam.

In order to take:You should be finishing:
Literaturegrade 11 English, with excellent reading skills
US HistoryHonors US History
Mathematics Level IAlgebra II
Mathematics Level IIPre-Calculus or higher
Biology E/MBiology Accelerated
ChemistryChemistry Accelerated
PhysicsAP Physics 2 or AP Physics C
French*French III Honors or French IV
LatinLatin IV
Spanish*Spanish III Honors or Spanish IV
Chinese**Chinese IV

*Test with Listening is offered only in November. You may take the test with or without the listening section, but many Deerfield students do well on the listening test because our immersion classrooms prepare them well.

**The Chinese subject test is only offered in November and includes listening.

Frequently Asked Questions

For current students, talk to your faculty advisor.  For new students, 9th and 10th graders should contact Ms. Hemphill, 11th graders should contact Dr. Hills, and 12th graders/PGs should contact the college advising office.

Students who want to play a sport in college at the Division I, IA, or II level, must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center by the end of their junior year. For more important information about NCAA academic requirements, please visit Athletic Recruiting.

Naviance is an online college search tool that helps students research potential colleges, keep track of their prospective and active applications, and estimate the likelihood of admission based on the results of previous Deerfield students’ grades and testing profiles as compared to each individual student’s personal academic record. All students are given access to Naviance in the fall of their junior year, and parents are given their own log-in information shortly afterwards.  Naviance is the site through which Deerfield submits the school’s portion of a student’s application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation), so it’s important that students keep their application information up to date on Naviance.

There is no specific requirement for frequency of meetings, but most seniors meet with their advisor every two or three weeks to discuss their progress. Advisors may request more frequent meetings if a student is falling behind in the process, or around crucial times of the year (such as application deadlines).  Juniors will begin meeting with their advisor in late fall of junior year; they are encouraged to check in with their advisor about once a month.  Students can schedule meetings by visiting the College Advising Office on the second floor of the Boyden Library, emailing their college advisor, or using Outlook to request a meeting.

The College Advising Office sends a message to all sophomores each winter to invite them to schedule a meeting with a college advisor. In the summer before students’ junior year, the College Advising Office will send additional information about what students should be doing to prepare themselves for applying. In the late fall of their junior year, students begin the process in earnest, starting by filling out an information sheet that will help them, in conjunction with their college advisor, begin compiling a list of schools.

Deerfield’s College Advising Office, located on the second floor of the Boyden Library, counsels students extensively on the college application process. Juniors are each assigned a college advisor who works with them closely and gets to know them well to provide personalized assistance. First year students and sophomores are also welcome to drop by the office with any specific questions, though the counseling and application process does not begin in earnest until the junior year.

Deerfield is highly conscious of the needs of its student-athletes, and offers a wide range of NCAA eligible classes. The College Advising Office and Deerfield coaches are accustomed to assisting students seeking to play sports in college, and they are experienced in guiding students through the recruiting process. They will work with students to be sure they meet the NCAA requirements, and are in the best position possible to be recruited. Mrs. Thiel in the Academic Dean’s office is our liaison to the NCAA compliance center and she can be a good source of guidance and information.

Contact College Advising

adivsing@deerfield.edu
413-774-1479
Fax 413-772-1128

Boyden Library, Second Floor
PO Box 87
Deerfield, MA 01342