College Testing

Standardized entrance tests are a big part of the college admissions process. These tests are taken by thousands of students from across the nation, giving colleges comparative data to use in evaluating students from different high schools.

Preliminary Tests

ASPIRE - A part of the ACT assessment program, ASPIRE is given to all Shelton freshmen and sophomores during October. Questions on the ASPIRE are of two types: selected response and constructed response. Like the ACT, ASPIRE has five sections: English, math, reading, science, and writing. ASPIRE is a standards-based assessment using the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. Parents receive an ASPIRE report, showing their student's overall score and score on each section, and predicted composite score on the ACT and the predicted section scores. The report also includes suggestions for areas of greatest need.

PSAT/NMSQT - The PSAT test measures critical reading, math, and writing skills. It gives students experience with the types of questions they will face on the SAT. The PSAT is offered to Shelton Juniors each year in October. The comprehensive score report, mailed home in mid-December, shows the student's response to each question and the difficulty of each question (i.e., easy, medium, hard). Although PSAT scores are not reported to colleges, Junior students have the opportunity to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship competition.

Entrance Tests

SAT- The SAT is designed to measure critical reading, math, and writing skills. An average score on each section is about 500. Shelton students taking the SAT do so during January, May, and/or June of their Junior year and, if necessary, during October and/or November of their Senior year.

SAT-II:Subject Tests - These are one-hour achievement tests that cover subject matter in a specific area such as biology or chemistry. Typically required at highly selective colleges. Students take these tests in their Junior or Senior year, usually at the completion of study in that specific area.

ACT © The ACT measures achievement in English, math, reading, science, and writing. An average score on each section is about 21. Similarly, an average composite score is about 21. Shelton students should plan to take the ACT during April of their Junior year and, if necessary, during September and/or October of their Senior year.

AP Tests - These are tests given at the conclusion of study in an AP course. College credit or advanced standing is awarded by certain colleges when students achieve sufficiently high scores. Shelton School does not offer AP courses.

THEA - The Texas Higher Education Assessment test measures reading, math, and writing skills of students entering Texas public colleges and universities. Full- or part-time students entering an associate or baccalaureate degree program must take and pass the THEA before enrolling in regular classes. In addition, students entering educator preparation programs in Texas public and private colleges and universities must take and pass the THEA.

Testing with Accommodations


Eligibility for extended-time testing (and other types of accommodations) on all College Board tests is determined by College Board officials. Basically, eligibility requirements state that students may be eligible if they: a) have a diagnosed disability; b) have current documentation of the disability on file at school; and c) have received accommodations on school-based tests for at least four months. If the above criteria are met, then an eligibility request is submitted by the college counseling office during July following the sophomore year. If approved, the student receives an approval letter from the College Board, showing the type of approval and an SSD number that is needed later for registration and reference purposes. Two different testing site options are available for eligible students with disabilities:
Center Testing - This option means that students test at a national test center and have up to 50% extended time.

School Testing - This option is conducted at the student's school within the established four-day testing period that corresponds to each scheduled national test date. This option is appropriate only for students who normally receive more than 50% extended time for school-based tests or who use test materials other than regular- or large-type.


The process for receiving extended time on the ACT is different than the SAT and other College Board tests. Requests for extended time (and other types of accommodations) are submitted at the same time that the test registration is submitted. Guidelines for eligibility and policies for documentation are clearly stipulated.

Two different site options are available for extended-time testing:
National Center Testing #2 - This option is for students who need up to 50% extended time. It is offered at national test centers on national test dates. Students receiving extended time are assigned to a separate room and must pace themselves through the 5 hours of total testing time.

Special Testing - This option is appropriate only if your disability requires more than time-and-a-half testing time, testing over more than one day, or other test formats such as braille, audio cassette, or a reader. A specific registration form is used. Online registration is not available. Tests are given at the student's school and supervised by the school's testing coordinator.

These websites are sources of important information for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and THEA.