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College Entrance and Placement Tests

The process of getting accepted into a four-year school is very different than getting into a two-year community or technical college.

Two-Year Schools

Most two-year colleges do not require a college-entrance exam for admission if applicants have a high school diploma or GED. This is true at all Minnesota State two-year colleges. However, new students do take a placement exam to determine which levels of classes are right for them.

Schools can use the results of a placement test to determine if a student is ready for the career-specific program they chose, or if they first need to take courses to increase their basic skills.

If you do not have a GED or high school diploma, you still may qualify to enroll in a career pathway program by taking an "Ability to Benefit" test. Many colleges use the same test, Accuplacer, both for placement and the "Ability to Benefit" test.

Four-Year Schools

Most four-year colleges and universities use standardized tests as part of the admission process. These tests compare the grades and knowledge of students who graduated from different high schools or took the GED.

The two standardized entrance exams accepted by the majority of colleges are the ACT and the SAT. Make sure you know which tests are required for admission at your college choices.

Acceptable scores on these tests are an important part of the information four-year colleges use to determine if they will accept a student or not.

Question ACT SAT Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
What does it test? English, reading, math and science reasoning skills; optional writing test Critical reading, math reasoning abilities, and writing skills Ability of non-native English speakers to read, write, speak, and understand North American English
Why should I take this test? Most common entrance exam for four-year colleges in Midwest and central United States Most common entrance exam for four-year colleges on East and West coasts Required by some four-year colleges if English is not your native language
When are the tests offered? Six dates during academic year Seven test dates during academic year Test dates vary by location
What does it cost? $50.50+ $17 for writing test* (can be waived for students in need) $47.50 + $17 for Essay* (can be waived for students in need) $205* (fee reduction possible for U.S. citizens or permanent residents).
* Current as of July 2019

See the other resources below to get more information about each test. Select the test you are interested in to register and learn more. You will also be able to find information about test preparation resources and how to request an accommodation to help you take the test if you have a disability.

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