I'm nervous about standardized tests. Should I take the SAT or ACT? What if my score isn't as high as I want it to be?

I've thought about joining the military after high school. Do you need to take any written exams to get into the military? 



Most colleges will require you to submit scores from the SAT or ACT as part of your application.

If you are interested in enlisting in the military, you will be required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).


While these tests are important, remember that these scores are only one part of your application. Admissions representatives will also consider your grades, activities, essays, and recommendations.  

Not sure which tests is a better fit for you? Take a practice test for both.


  • SAT: This test is used by colleges, universities, and career schools as part of the admission process, measures your academic readiness for college and careers in reading, writing and math-related fields.  https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat



  • ACT: The ACT tests your academic skills in English, math, writing, and science. It is used by colleges and universities to measure academic readiness in the same way that the SAT is used. In fact, nationally, more students are now taking the ACT than the SAT.    You can take it during your junior and senior years. http://www.actstudent.org/.

  • ASVAB: If you have an interest in a service academy or a career in the armed services,this assessment considers developed abilities and predicts future success in the military. The ASVAB is a required step in the process of enlisiting in the armed services.   It can also help you in exploring general career opportunities. Find out more about the ASVAB and joining the military or service academy on the Military page. 

Test Fees 

Baltimore City Public Schools students can take advantage of an SAT registration fee waiver, allowing them to take the SAT for free. The waiver covers the costs of up two SATs. Speak to your school counselor for more detailed information about how to obtain your fee waiver. 

The ACT also offers fee waivers to students meeting certain requirements. If you are considering taking the ACT but are concerned about the costs, read about the ACT fee waiver, and contact your school counselor to see if you are eligible.  

Reporting Scores 

You must officially report your scores to colleges directly from the College Board or ACT. You are given four score reports for free. It costs $12 per college to send additional scores from either the SAT or ACT.  

If you take the SAT or ACT more than once, the College Board and ACT will allow you to choose which scores you want to send to colleges, although some schools will require you to submit all scores. The good new is, many schools will "superscore" your results. A "superscore" will combine your best score from each section of the test to give you your highest possible score. 


Read more about superscoring and the

SAT & ACT Score Choice.

Did you know that there are colleges that don't require the SAT or ACT? 

There are now over 950 schools that are "test optional," "test flexible," or put less emphasis on standardized test scores during the admissions process.  If you have taken the SAT or ACT and don't feel like the scores show your true ability, or you have test anxiety and would prefer not to take the tests at all, consider some of the options available in the database below.