There are several different standardized tests that take place during the High School Career. The Counseling Office works with students, administration, and outside agencies to help students understand standardized testing options and select the best options.
Keystone Exams (Grades 9 and 10)
The Keystone exams are required by Pennsylvania law. There are three Keystone exams: Biology, English Literature, and Algebra I. The exams are given at the end of the corresponding course. Most students take the Algebra exam in 8th or 9th grade and Biology and English exams in 10th grade. Students who do not pass the exam after the first attempt will be offered a chance to remediate or relearn information and then will be required to take the test again.
PSAT (10th grade and/or 11th grade)
The PSAT is a practice exam for students planning to take the SAT. The PSAT requires a small fee and is given during the school day. Registration is through the Counseling Office. The 10th grade PSAT is offered in the Spring semester and the 11th grade test is offered in the Fall. The 11th grade PSAT also serves as an entry into the National merit scholarship contest.
Following the exam, students receive an extensive score report and access to free, personalized online test prep materials. We strongly recommend that all college-bound students take the PSAT in both 10th and 11th grade.
SAT (usually 11th grade)
The SAT is a college admissions test. The SAT is scored out of 1600 points and contains two required sections – Math and Evidenced Based Reading and Writing – plus an option essay. The exam is given six times a year on a Saturday morning. Registration is completed online via the College Board website. There is a fee, however, students who receive free and reduced lunch are eligible for fee waivers.
Most students take the SAT for the first time in the Spring semester of Junior year. Many students take a second (or third) attempt to try and improve their score.
ACT (usually 11th grade)
The ACT is a different kind of college admissions tests. Most colleges will accept either the ACT or the SAT. The ACT has sections on Reading, Math, Science, and option essay. It is offered on various Saturday mornings throughout the year. Registration is online at the ACT website. There is a fee, however, students who receive free and reduced lunch are eligible for fee waivers.
For those students that opt to take the ACT, they usually take their first attempt in the Junior year.
AP (various grades)
Advanced Placement (AP) exams are taken at the conclusion of an AP course. South West offers many AP courses and students can take multiple AP exams each year. AP exams take place in May and are given during the school day. There is a fee per test, however, students who receive free and reduced lunch are eligible for a reduced fee.
ASVAB (usually 11th and 12th)
The ASVAB is a multiple choice test, administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command. It is used to determine qualification for enlistment in the United States armed forces.
Students who are not interested in enlisting in the military can also take the test to help with Career Exploration. The ASVAB Career Exploration Program is a tool to help students identify and explore potentially satisfying occupations and to develop effective strategies to realize their career goals.
There is no cost for a student to take the ASVAB. It is offered at the High School once a year in December (local military recruiters offer other opportunities). Registration is through the Counseling office.