College Entrance Testing

On this Page:

    • College Entrance Testing Overview
    • Can I take the SAT or ACT test at Assets High School?
    • Test Preparation Resources

College Entrance Testing Overview

Although many schools are test optional or do not require scores at all, two main tests are used for college entrance, the SAT, and ACT. Colleges will accept either test, there is not a preference for one versus the other on the college side. The ACT is a content-based test that aims to measure what students know and is based on high school curriculum as defined by the Common Core. The SAT is a reasoning test but also tests similar concepts. Both tests are heavily reading intensive and include an essay section, critical reading, math and a strong emphasis on applying English writing conventions. The ACT also has a science section, and the SAT has a science sub-score. Anyone considering applying to four-year colleges will likely need to take one of these tests. To figure out which test suits you best, you may take advantage of the free practice tests available online. Community colleges do not require either of these tests, but often use placement tests for which it is a good idea to prepare.

Please keep in mind that grades are more important than test scores in predicting college success. In short, "four years is more important than four hours." No student will be prevented from attending college because of test scores, but you may need to choose a college more carefully if testing is not your strength. For example, you may not want to attend a school that bases their assessment on tests if you do not test well. All community colleges are accessible regardless of test scores, and within the University of Hawaii System, students may transfer automatically into UH Manoa after 24 successful college-level credits at a community college. Or, students may choose to apply to selective colleges that are test-optional if they have other strengths to showcase, such as leadership, community service, extracurricular involvement, or unique abilities.

Fairtest: Grades More Predictive than Test Scores

The New SAT versus the ACT: Infographic from Princeton Review

Summarizes the Similarities and Differences

Understood Website Article: SAT or ACT?

This article presents pros and cons of each test and shares some tips that may be helpful in understanding the differences. The test you choose may depend on the type of accommodations you can get approved as well, so contact your counselor for clarification.

Most Colleges are Dropping the Essay Requirement!

Can I test at Assets?

It depends on the student and their needs and we will work with you to determine a testing plan during the junior year. We offer the SAT and ACT for students approved for school-based or special testing (those who cannot be accommodated at a regular test center). Students with center-based testing may test at an open test center on the island during any month the test is offered, and may still receive accommodations such as 50% extended time. Center-based testers include 50% extended time, extra breaks, and students with no accommodations. We are not currently an SAT or ACT Test Center open to the public due to space constraints. However, we will make an effort to coordinate with partner schools to ensure that students testing elsewhere receive support and reminders for test day. Please let us know when you register for either test so that we can work with staff at partner test centers and also so that we can plan ahead for those students testing on our campus.

When should I take the SAT or ACT?

Assets offers School-Based and Special Testing to our students who need specialized accommodations. These accommodations are the ones that are not available in test centers. Testing availability is limited in December and during the Summer due to staffing constraints caused by vacations, office closure. Most other months are okay to register online if you need special testing. It is advisable to test near the end of your junior year and possibly retest at the beginning of your senior year to have your scores in time for college applications, many of which have deadlines early in the Fall. When testing with accommodations, score delays are possible because the paperwork goes through an extra department, so advanced planning is needed.

Though not a hard and fast rule, our guideline is to limit testing to two settings of either the SAT or ACT for several reasons. The first reason is that testing is not the most important part of your application, your grades and other accomplishments are much more important. Also, after two sittings, few students improve scores significantly. Finally, providing specialized testing accommodations for our students is a priority for our school, and that means that we devote more time and resources to each test sitting. Therefore, students who test more than two times will be de-prioritized behind those who have not yet tested when resources become scarce. This is to make sure everyone has a fair chance to show their knowledge. So, prepare, take your tests strategically, and plan ahead.

SAT Dates/ Registration is Online:

The SAT is offered seven times a year, starting in October, and continuing through June. Assets students who qualify for accommodations will have the opportunity to apply for those with the College Board at the end of sophomore year, or the Summer before junior year in preparation for the PSAT/ NMSQT. Once accommodations are approved for one College Board tests, they are good for any other College Board tests.

SAT Registration:

ACT Test Dates/ Form

For ACT Testing, you may test at a test center (at another school) or, if you qualify for special testing (testing over multiple days, reader, alternative format, computer for the essay), you may test at Assets School, but it requires some advanced planning (about 8 weeks prior to test date). You must first create an ACT web account and then you can register online and select special testing. Then, turn in a consent form to Ms. James (2 weeks prior to the registration deadline). This needs to be done every time you register for the ACT test as they do not keep records ongoing. The consent form is available for download at the bottom of this page, or you can pick one up from Ms. James. Or, you may forward me the email that the ACT sends you about special accommodations, that also gives me consent and information about your registration needed. I need that request two school weeks prior to the registration deadline so that I can have time to gather and upload your documentation from our school files.

More info about the ACT:

ACT Registration:

ACT Accommodations:

Test Preparation

Test preparation can be helpful in increasing student comfort with the process of testing, as well as reviewing skills and content most likely to be on the test. Another way to increase your comfort with one of these tests is to simply take it twice. While moderate gains in tests scores are typical, huge gains through test preparation are rare, and some students will benefit more from a strength-based approach to college admissions that bypasses the standardized testing step altogether. Before investing money in test prep resources, take advantage of the free opportunities (listed below), and think carefully about whether or not it may just cause more frustration than it is worth if your student is one who really struggles with standardized testing. If you are not sure whether your student might benefit from test preparation, please contact me.

Start with this and other Free Resources online on the ACT and SAT websites, including interactive practice tests, and free guides to each of the tests.

Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to provide free online test preparation.

OpenEd offers free skill development and test preparation coordinated for the ACT test. They also are a platform for academic skill development that is personalized to the student based on assessments done on their website, or based on previous ACT scores.

ACT Academy Coming soon! A free resource provided by

You can sign up for a "question of the day" with the ACT, and they also sell prep books for individual preparation and provide an online prep option with Kaplan.

Students who register using a fee waiver may access online preparation resources for several months free of charge. For fee waiver eligibility guidelines, see this website. If you think you qualify for a fee waiver, visit Ms. James.

A free resource for the ACT and SAT test preparation sponsored by the U.S. Army. Excellent resource!

Other Test Preparation Options:

Kaplan Test Prep:

Kaplan offers preparation for all types of standardized tests.

Kosasa Academy:

Former Assets teacher, Mrs. Kosasa, runs a tutoring company that can provide individual instruction for test preparation and other academic supports. Her company works with students of all ages.

Learning Unlimited

A tutoring company in Kaimuki that offers test prep, among many other services.

Test Prep Hawaii

Short term classes, during Spring Break, and workshops after school, a test prep book is provided. All focused on SAT (not ACT!), and classes can be large or small depending on the location/ time, upwards of 30 students.

Many of the private schools offer test prep courses over the summer. See websites for summer programs at Punahou, Iolani, and others. These tend to be pricey and time consuming, but may be helpful to some students.

Standardized tests just not your thing?

A list of colleges that are test optional or do not use tests can be found at: