Academic Terminology


ACT: The ACT Assessment is designed to assess high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The test is scored on a scale of 11-36 and is administered several times a year. There is also a writing test, but it is optional.

PSAT/NMSQT: stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT I. It also enters you in the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship program.

The PSAT/NMSQT measures:

  • verbal reasoning skills
  • critical reading skills
  • math problem-solving skills
  • writing skills

The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are:

  • to receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can use this information to work on areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.
  • to see how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
  • to enter the competition for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
  • to help prepare for SAT I. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT I.
  • to receive information from colleges when you check "yes" to Student Search Service.

You should take the PSAT/NMSQT in your junior year. Some students choose to take it earlier, in their sophomore year. If you take it earlier, recognize that the PSAT/NMSQT is a junior-level test, so don't get discouraged if your score is low. Also, you are only entered in the NMSQT when you take the exam in your junior year. Sophomore year scores do not count. Your score will usually increase as your years of study increase. This test is offered only once per year in October.

SAT : The SAT is a test that measures verbal, mathematical reasoning and writing skills. Many colleges and universities use the SAT as one indicator among others-class rank, high school GPA, extracurricular activities, personal essay, and teacher recommendations-of a student's readiness to do college-level work. The SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800 for the three test areas, and is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. The test is administered several times a year.

SAT Subject Tests: Subject Tests are tests that measure how much students know about a particular academic subject. Many competitive colleges require or recommend one or more of the Subject Tests for admission or placement.

Naviance: The on-line database currently used by Junior and Senior students. You can get information about careers, colleges, and much more.

Activities Resume: A record of all the activities you have been involved with while in high school. It includes grades 9-12, sports, volunteer activities, membership in groups (i.e. boy/girl scouts, youth group, etc.), academic honors and awards, clubs (Science Olympiad, French Club, etc.) You should start recording this information now so you don’t have to remember everything 3 years from now.

Post-secondary plans: What you plan to do after you graduate from high school: go right to work, join the military, find an internship, continue your education or a combination of the three.

Transcript: An official record of all the classes you have taken in grades 9-12. It lists your final exam scores and your final averages in every class you take. It also lists your GPA and SAT and/or ACT scores.

Grade point average (GPA): The average of the grades you have earned in all the classes you have taken, excluding physical education.

Advance Placement (AP): Courses offered in high school called AP classes are college level classes. Students use a college level textbook, study a rigorous college curriculum during the year and take an AP exam at the end of the course, in May. Depending on your AP exam score and the college you attend after graduation, you may earn college credit for the class.

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Academic Terminology