Why go to college?

Return on Investment

What colleges want?




Computer Science




Offer By
Who Should Take It
When To Take It
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
College Board
mostly 11th graders,
some 10th graders
2 hrs, 10 min
Critical Reading,
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
College Board
preferably taken by 11th graders,
some 12th graders
Oct., Nov., Dec., Jan., March, May, or June
3 hrs, 45 min
Critical Reading,
Preliminary ACT Test (PLAN)
American College Testing
usually taken by 10th graders

1 hr, 55 min
American College Testing
preferably taken by 11th graders,
some 12th graders
Sept, Oct., Dec., Feb., April, or June
3 hrs, 25 min
optional Writing
SAT Subject Tests
College Board
10th, 11th, and 12th graders
Oct., Nov., Dec., Jan., May, or June
up to three 1-hr tests on one test date
20 subject areas
Advanced Placement (AP) Tests
College Board
10th, 11th, and 12th graders
2-3 hrs
30 subject areas

NOTE: October is the last test date that makes scores available in time for early decision and early action programs.

Compare ACT & SAT

Based more closely on high school curriculum than is the SAT
Primarily focuses on general reasoning and problem-solving skills
Measures academic achievement in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Test contains large proportion of analytical and problem-solving exercises and few measures of narrow skills or basic recall.
Designed to measure academic aptitude in verbal and numerical reasoning
5 long sections (including the essay), always in the same order
Questions get progressively harder in the Math section, but difficult questions are randomly ordered in all other sections.
10 short sections, randomly ordered except for two constants: the first section is always the essay, and the last section is always the shortest (ten-minute) writing section

Within the individual Grammar and Math sections, questions get progressively harder.
25% - English: Usage/mechanics, punctuation, basic grammar/usage, sentence structure; Rhetorical skills, strategy, organization, style.
25% - Mathematics: pre-algebra, elementary and intermediate, algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, trigonometry.
25% - Reading: art/literature - prose fiction, humanities; social studies/sciences - history, political science, biology, chemistry, physics, physical sciences.
25% - Science Reasoning: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills, required in biology, physical sciences, chemistry, and physics
33% - Reading: analogies, sentence completions, critical reading in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and narrative passages.
33% - Mathematics: arithmetic algebra, and geometry.
33% - Writing

  • Tests vocabulary to a much greater extent
  • 10 non-multiple choice math questions
3 hours 25 minutes
(including the optional 30-minute essay)
  • English: 75 questions/45 minutes
  • Mathematics: 60 questions/60 minutes
  • Reading: 40 questions/35 minutes
  • Science: 40 questions/35 minutes
  • Writing: 1 essay prompt/30 minutes
3 hours 45 minutes
  • Writing (Essay): 1 essay prompt/25 minutes
  • Math (Multiple Choice): 20 questions/25 minutes
  • Experimental: 25 minutes
  • Critical Reading: 24 questions/25 minutes
  • Math (Multiple Choice + Student Produced Response): 18 questions/25 minutes
  • Writing (Multiple Choice) 35 questions/25 minutes
  • Critical Reading: 24 questions/25 minutes
  • Math (Multiple Choice): 16 questions/20 minutes
  • Critical Reading: 19 questions/20 minutes
  • Writing: 14 questions/10 minutes
¼ English
¼ Math
¼ Reading
¼ Science

Essay is optional. (It is not included in composite score. However, many colleges require that students complete the essay if they take the ACT.)
⅓ Critical Reading
⅓ Math
⅓ Writing (Grammar & Essay)
Essay is not optional

Essay constitutes approximately 30% of the Writing Score.
Score Deductions
No penalty for marking incorrect answers.
For every incorrect answer, ¼ of a point is deducted.
Score Scales
English: 1-36
Reading: 1-36
Math: 1-36
Science: 1-36
Reading: 200-800
Mathematics: 200-800
Writing: 200-800
1-36 average of 4 test scores
600-2400 sum of 3 test scores

Testing Dates



New SAT (start in 2016)



SAT Subject Test

Foreign Language Requirement

Extracurricular Activity

Summer Programs

Math, Science & Medicine




Talent Programs

Internship Programs

Explorer Programs

  • Careers in Science Program - CiS (California Academy of Science) is a multi-year, year-round work-based youth development program for young people from groups typically under-represented in the sciences. Interns primarily work at our amazing new facility in Golden Gate Park (with the best view in the building!), and occasionally attend off-site events and field trips. Primary activities include:
    • Learning about science at trainings, lectures, workshops, and conferences
    • Teaching science to the Academy's audiences
    • Conducting scientific work with Academy scientists and in field studies
    • Having fun while working with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Youth Commission and Government Service (Pleasanton, CA) develop your leadership skills and participate in the government process through the City’s Youth Commission, an advisory body to the City Council. If you want to know what the City Council, City government and the school district do, participate in the annual Youth in Government Day, a partnership between the City and the high schools.
  • Police Explorer Program (Pleasanton, CA) teaches teens about law enforcement through a "hands on" approach. Explorers receive training in various aspects of criminal law, police procedures, laws of arrest, and crime scene investigation. They also participate as ride-a-long observers with officers on patrol and serve the community at community events, searching for lost or missing persons and assisting with other services provided by the police department when needed. Explorers wear uniforms that they purchase and hold positions of rank within their organized structure.

Study Abroad


Volunteer Opportunities

  • Pleasanton Volunteer Opportunities
  • http://ptown411.com/volunteer.php
  • http://www.volunteeronline.org
  • http://www.volunteereastbay.org/
  • Lend a Hand Tri-Valley
  • Summer Internships for High School Students
  • Bay Area Volunteer Information Center
  • Tri-Valley Youth Court - Interested in the law? Volunteer for a youth position at Tri-Valley Youth Court. Serve as a Court Clerk, Advocate, Jury Member, or Spanish-English Translator. Some training may be required. Community Youth Courts offer alternatives to the traditional juvenile justice system to middle and high school teens who are first time offenders of misdemeanor or lesser crimes in the Southern Contra Costa County, Tri-Cities, and Tri Valley areas of Alameda County. Youth Courts are entirely voluntary and address the early stages of juvenile delinquency by bringing teenage offenders before a jury of their peers.
  • Pleasanton Public Library - Teens in high school may volunteer at the library at various times of the year. Twice a year, in the Spring and Fall, teens may help out with the Friends of the Library Book Sale. From May through July, teens support the Children's Summer Reading Program by creating decorations, ushering at larger programs or working with Kid-Power volunteers on game-day. See above link to find out when new volunteer training dates are available, then e-mail Teresa Parham at tparham@ci.pleasanton.ca.us to reserve a space.
  • Chabot Space and Science Center - Galaxy Explorers - Teen Volunteer & Internship Program - The primary purpose for the Galaxy Explorers is to provide exciting public science education to enhance the visitor experience at the science center or through outreach. This part of the program is required regardless of rank or level in the program. A variety of methods can be used to meet the monthly or requirements. For regular volunteers the minimum requirement is 4 hours per month. The intern requirement is greater.
    • Participants should have an interest in science, math, or technology.
    • Applicants must have completed the 8th grade.
    • Ability to speak to and work with visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
    • A minimum G.P.A. of 2.0 is required in order to participate in paid internship activities.
    • Minimum commitment of 44 hours per year.
  • Oakland Zoo - Teen Volunteer Opportunities - Are you interested in animals, plants, conservation and children? Train to be animal interpreters, conservation leaders, ZooCamp assistants or learn to make enrichments for the animals. Play an important role in Oakland Zoo's volunteer core, working with children, keepers and teachers.

Local in Bay Area


Distance Learning