College Counseling
Chances are you’ve already thought about SATs and ACTs, and perhaps you’ve even taken one. A lingering question for many students, however, is this: How much do the test scores matter? The answer (like many answers in the college counseling world) is “it depends.”
Although some colleges and universities have begun to minimize or eliminate the role standardized testing plays in the admissions process, test scores still factor into decisions at many of the most highly selective colleges and universities in the U.S. They also play a role at schools that award merit aid, with many schools establishing test score “cut-offs” for merit aid and scholarships.
Here are the tests you need to know:
PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is given in October to the sophomore and junior classes. Registration is handled by Tower Hill. Scores from the junior year are used for National Merit Scholarship Qualification (NMSQT), and are for student and counselor use only. These scores are not sent to colleges.

SAT I/SAT Reasoning Test is the exam most commonly referred to as “The SAT.” The exam comprises Evidence Based Reading & Writing (EBRW), Mathematics (MATH), and an optional writing section, and requires four hours to complete. The SAT was redesigned in 2016, and the new version returns to the old “1600” point scale. The writing section is optional.

SAT Subject Tests are one-hour exams that measure your knowledge of specific academic subject areas such as foreign languages, mathematics, sciences, histories and English literature. You choose which test(s) to take. Most selective colleges require two (possibly three) SAT Subject tests in addition to the SAT Reasoning Test (or ACT – see below). For more information about both the SAT I and the Subject tests, please check the College Board website.
ACT is the American College Test and is an alternative to the SAT. The ACT is as widely respected as the SAT, and that some students perform better on this test than the SAT I. You may submit the ACT in place of the SAT, the SAT Subject tests, or both, depending on the college’s application requirements. Almost all colleges accept the ACT. For more information, check out

1.     It is YOUR responsibility to registerfor the SAT, SAT Subject Tests and ACT exams.
2.     Online registration is usually the easiest way for most students to sign up for the SAT exams and the ACT exam. The websites for these are: and You will need a valid major credit card to register.
3.     It is vital that you know the testing requirements of each college to which you plan to apply. Check each college’s admission website for testing requirements.
4.     Always use the EXACT same name and address when you sign up for any test! In addition, be precise with your address, birthdate, Social Security number, and school testing codes!
5.     Extended Time Testing – Students eligible for extended time testing must go through a few more hoops in order to document that they qualify for additional time on their standardized testing. See Ms. Glowatz or Mrs. Ogden for details.
6.      Sending Scores: Each time you sit for one of the exams, you will be offered the chance to send your results to a small number of colleges for free. The college counseling office advises that you do not do this the first time you sit for the exams. Your scores will often rise in subsequent exams, and it will be best for you to send all of your scores at once when you decide on your final list of where to apply. When it is time to apply to colleges, you must SEND YOUR SCORES FROM THE TESTING AGENCY. We cannot do this for you. Colleges will not accepted unofficial scores. Again, you MUST submit scores through the testing agency.


Many colleges and universities (some in the “highly selective” category) have moved toward the “test optional” model for admissions. These colleges and their alternative requirements can be found on the Fair Test website

Don’t worry! Here is your timeline:
Freshman and Sophomore Years:
  • Register for and take any SAT Subject tests for which you are qualified in June (refer to the chart later in this testing section). Sophomores who are enrolled in Accelerated Chemistry or those juniors who take Advanced Chemistry should consider taking the SAT Subject test in chemistry at the very end (May or June) of their sophomore or junior year (respectively).
  • Sophomores are required to take the PSAT in October and the Pre-ACT in March. Tower Hill will register the students.
Junior Year:
  • October – PSAT
  • December – some juniors may decide to register for and take the SAT exam for the first time (though many will wait until spring when they have finished more advanced math)
  • April – register for and take the ACT
  • March and May – register for and take the SAT exam (you need not take it both times)
  • May and June – SAT test dates should be used to take the SAT Subject tests. Your college counselor and teachers will help you to choose.
Senior Year:
  • Retake the SAT, the SAT Subject tests and the ACT as needed. Most (though not all) Early Decision/ Early Action applicants can still take the November exam and have their scores available for colleges in ED/ EA.
SAT Subject Test Recommendations from the College Counseling Office:

SAT Subject Test
Tower Hill Course
Math Level II
Strong performance in any THS Precalculus Class
Biology (Molecular)
Advanced Biology
Advanced Chemistry
Advanced Physics I or Advanced Calculus-Based Physics
Advanced English Seminar plus test-specific preparation
U.S. History
Advanced U.S. History
Spanish w/listening *
Advanced Spanish Seminar plus test-specific preparation
French w/listening *
Advanced French Seminar plus test-specific preparation

*Test with Listening is offered only in November. You may take with or without listening component.

Test Prep

You don’t have to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on test prep, but you do need to spend time preparing. Many students find that the organized practice and test-taking strategy tips provided by test prep tutors help them better tackle the exams. Below is our list of recommended test prep tutors:
Che Henderson (math): 302-494-4184
Tom Ford (critical reading and writing): 302-764-0523
Sandy Idstein (critical reading and writing): 302-892-4296
Back to Basics (both math and reading): 302-594-0754
Diamond State Tutoring (based in Hockessin)
Dave Schonbach (math):; 302-999-8278
Laura Benzoni-March (math and critical reading) - based on Long Island, she does a remarkably good job tutoring many students via Skype! She comes highly recommended by one of our parents, and can be reached at or 516-637-8924; Her sister, Linda Carnevale, does Skype tutoring in critical reading and writing (she used to write the SAT Prep books for Barrons, so she has some real experience!), and can be reached at 516-728-1272 or at
MJ Test Prep - out on the Main Line (Bryn Mawr), can be reached at or 610-525-2840
Another important free tool to note and utilize is the test prep link provided through the Tower Hill School Upper School Library page. This link requires a password obtained by THS librarians or your college counselor and should not be distributed outside of THS. Click here to access information.