While an increasing number of schools have made standardized tests optional (and a few have even become “test blind”), for most colleges, having a strong SAT or ACT score can help you in the admissions process. Therefore, it is important to understand colleges’ testing requirements, and it is recommended that students plan for and take standardized tests as part of their college application process.
All colleges accept the ACT or SAT, and have no preference between the ACT and SAT. As a first step, we recommend taking practice SAT and ACT exams to see which test is better for you. Register for a free practice exam with Revolution Prep, or contact the College Advising Office for more information.
Below are the dates of the 2021-22 SATs and ACTs. Deadlines to register for the SAT and ACT are generally about five or six weeks prior to the test—please visit the websites below and register on time! Students in AP-level courses will receive registration information about the AP tests from Deerfield’s Testing Coordinator in the fall.
|ACT||On Campus||September 11, December 11, April 2||www.actstudent.org / School Code: 220685 / Test Center Code: 234820|
|ACT||Off Campus||October 23, February 12, June 11||www.actstudent.org / School Code: 220685 / Test Center Code: 234820|
|SAT||On Campus||October 2, November 6, December 4, May 7||www.collegeboard.org|
|SAT||Off Campus||August 28, March 12, June 4||www.collegeboard.org|
|AP Exams||On Campus||May 2022||Students in AP-level courses will receive information from the Testing Coordinator in the fall.|
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.
If you require accommodations for standardized testing, contact Mrs. Koyama. For more information, read our accommodations policy. The process takes four to six months, so please plan accordingly.
PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is given each October to juniors (sophomores may opt in), and Deerfield handles the registration. You do not need to sign up for the PSAT online, but if you are a sophomore and would like to opt in, please contact the testing coordinator. Scores from the third year of high school 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 (over the ACT) 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 is a content-based test with sections on reading, writing and language, no-calculator math, and calculator math (its writing section has been eliminated). Students are responsible for registering themselves for the SAT by visiting www.collegeboard.org.
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 an optional writing section. The ACT requires students to answer more questions in less time than the SAT, so speed is important. Students are responsible for registering themselves for the ACT by visiting www.actstudent.org.
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 were discontinued in 2019.
To learn about the differences between the SAT and the ACT and how they compare, take a look at the chart below (for more information, see Revolution Prep).
Q: Are all scores automatically 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. Note that some colleges require that students send all scores.
ACT: No. Students must select which scores they send to colleges by sitting (test date) for the ACT. To send more than one test date, students must send multiple reports. Note that some colleges require that students send all scores.
Q: Are there other uses for the exams?
A: Yes: some scholarship programs require or request test scores in their application process.
Q: Do schools “superscore” the tests (consider the highest score in each section)?
SAT: Most schools superscore the SAT.
ACT: Many schools, but not all, superscore the ACT.
Q: How can I compare my scores?
A: The ACT and the College Board offer concordance tables to help you compare your scores:
Need more information?
SAT: The College Board (866) 756-7346
ACT: ACT, Inc. (319) 337-1270
Freshman and Sophomore Years
Look for instructions from the Testing Coordinator in the fall to sign up for and take any AP tests for which you are qualified.
Sophomores may take the PSAT in October. Email the Testing Coordinator to opt in.
Your college advisor will help you decide which tests to take and when. We recommend juniors complete the year with one SAT or ACT. Please see the ACT and SAT websites for up-to-date test dates and registration deadlines.
Fall of Senior Year
Retake the SAT or ACT as needed. Early Decision/Early Action applicants can generally still take the September, October and November exams and have their scores available for colleges in the early round.
The surest way for colleges to see your SAT or ACT scores is for you to arrange for official score reports to be sent directly from the testing service (www.collegeboard.org or www.actstudent.org, as applicable). Scores do not appear on Deerfield’s transcripts. Some colleges accept “self-reporting” for standardized test scores. Follow colleges’ instructions carefully and ask your college advisor if you have questions. If you are sending scores officially through the testing service, here are some tips:
Familiarity with the organization and types of questions on any standardized test will be helpful, as it will allow a student 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.
There are many types of test preparation available for the SAT, the ACT, and AP Exams. These include books that students use to prepare on their own, self-paced online courses (including free, self-paced online instruction through Khan Academy), in-person and online courses, as well as one-on-one tutoring. Some students are motivated to prepare on their own, while others may find that they are more comfortable and confident with a formal course. At the very least, students should familiarize themselves with the format of the exams by using the booklets with sample questions provided by the testing service. Preferably students should take a full-length practice test and score it. Look over the questions answered incorrectly or not answered. Are there specific areas in which a student can improve? How well was the test time managed? There are sample questions and test taking tips on the College Board and the ACT web sites. All contain practice questions, as do many of the test preparation books one can find in bookstores or online sites like Amazon.
LIVE INSTRUCTION TEST PREP SERVICES
Deerfield works with Revolution Prep to provide test prep options to Deerfield students looking for live instruction. Revolution Prep offers one-on-one tutoring and small-group courses, all of which are offered live online using a video platform. Financial aid is available for the small group courses; please contact the College Advising Office if you have questions about financial aid. The College Advising office communicates with students and families to keep them apprised of these options.
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 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.