• A standardized test is an assessment that is administered and scored in a “standard” manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent.

    These tests are designed to assess students' progress in school, the ability to attend institutions of higher learning, or to place students in programs suited to their abilities. The standardized tests that are administered to North Allegheny students are below.


    The PSAT/NMSQT stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is a standardized test that provides first-hand practice for the SAT. It is also the qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's scholarship programs. The PSAT/NMSQT measures: verbal reasoning skills, critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills, and writing skills. Common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are: as a practice test for SAT program tests, to receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study, to see how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college, and to enter the competition for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The PSAT/NMSQT is designed to be taken in the junior year; however, it can be taken earlier.

    ACT Aspire

    The ACT Aspire is the first digital, longitudinal assessment system to fully connect student performance from elementary grades through high school. ACT Aspire will provide educators and parents with the insights they need to help students get and stay on track by better connecting assessment to teaching and learning.

    ACT Aspire will include summative assessments that measure how much students have learned over time, as well as aligned classroom-based assessments that help educators better understand students' learning needs in individual classes throughout the school year. The aligned assessments will inform teachers about students' progress toward specific learning standards, so they can better tailor their instruction and resources to help students learn.


    The SAT is published by the College Board. The new SAT is a 3 hour and 45-minute test (45 minutes longer than in past years) that measures critical thinking skills students need for academic success in college. There are three sections of the SAT: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. The test is typically taken by juniors and seniors. The scores are one indicator of a student's potential to do college work. Colleges and universities use SAT results for admission in specific programs and as a basis for awarding merit-based financial aid. The mean score for each section of the SAT is set at or near the midpoint of 500 of the 200-800 score scale.


    The ACT is designed to measure high school students' general education development and their ability to complete college-level work. The test covers four skill areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. The findings from the ACT help a student with educational and career planning. In addition, ACT Test Results assist teachers and school administrators in developing and implementing more effective educational services to students. Scale scores range from 1 (low) to 36 (high).

    Since all tests involve some measurement error, psychometricians have designed ways to estimate the standard error of measurement. On the ACT, the standard error of measurement is two (2) points on each test score and sub-score and one (1) point for the composite score.


    The Advanced Placement Tests are published by the College Board. Participating in Advanced Placement courses gives students an opportunity to take college-level work in high school and gain valuable skills and study habits for college. By taking an Advanced Placement Test and scoring a qualifying score of 3 or better, students can earn college credit or advanced placement status.


    The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess performance in the content areas of Algebra I, Biology, and Literature. Future content areas to be assessed include Algebra II, Chemistry, English Composition, Geometry, U.S. History, World History, and Civics and Government. The Keystone Exams were developed by Pennsylvania educators and are aligned to the Keystone Exams Assessment Anchors and Eligible Content. These Exams are one component of Pennsylvania’s new system of high school graduation requirements. To receive a diploma, a student must also meet local school district credit and attendance requirements, complete a culminating project, and pass any additional district requirements.

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