What Are Academic Achievement Tests?

Academic achievement tests are standardized and measure your progress and achievements as a student. A variety of academic achievement tests are used in different states and at different levels of education. Read on to find out more about how academic achievement tests affect your educational options and goals.

Academic Achievement Tests

The three main types of achievement testing related to academics include national, state-by-state and college entrance exam testing. Each type is used to determine how your scores rank among similar students. Your success in each area of these tests can affect the choices you have in attending college. These tests can also affect the amount of money institutions receive from the government.

Important Facts About Academic Achievement Tests

Test Prep Options Online courses, tutoring, in-class prep
Potential Benefits Scholarships and grants
Online Availability Online registration available, but most tests taken in person
Required Test Materials ID card, no. 2 pencils, approved calculator

National Tests

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, has the only nationwide academic achievement test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP assesses U.S. student performance in areas such as reading, math, science, civics, the arts, writing, economics, U.S. history and geography. A representative sample of students are tested to provide a nationwide metric for long-term assessment across all states.

The NAEP gathers results on various academic achievement tests and reports the findings based on overall scores or by an urban area. The results are calculated from tests administered to students at critical levels of academic achievement in the fourth, eighth and twelfth grades. These tests are administered and developed by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), a select group of individuals who are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Education after a nationwide search, rating and nomination process. The NAGB is also responsible for effectively developing the tests and creating the procedures used to evaluate and report the findings.

State-by-State Tests

Public schools are required by the federal government to administer standardized achievement tests in order to receive federal funding. Each state has its own standardized test, such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests and the Prairie State Achievement Examination. Tests are used to measure academic achievement across grade levels. Students are tested on reading comprehension, vocabulary, word analysis, listening skills, math, language and social studies.

College Entrance Tests

Two of the most common college entrance academic achievement tests are the SAT and the ACT exams. Scores from either of these tests are typical prerequisites for admission to colleges or universities. Some schools also require minimum scores in specific areas of the tests, like math or reading. Generally, the ACT is considered more of an academic achievement test, and the SAT measures your aptitude in specific skills.

The ACT, administered by ACT, Inc., is based on high school curricula and includes English, science, math and reading, with an optional writing test. A career inventory portion is also included in the ACT, which can help you evaluate options based on your interests. The ACT test scores are calculated using the number of correct answers.

The SAT is administered by the College Board, and it measures a student's verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities. The SAT also includes a required writing test. The SAT scoring system takes off points for every incorrect answer to calculate results.

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