Academics
College Counseling

Standardized Testing

Nichols School is committed to supporting all students on their path to college. For most colleges, standardized test scores are an important part of an applicant’s profile. Even in uncertain times, one aspect of the college application process we can control is the degree to which we prepare our students for success on these tests. We believe that developing an individualized testing and preparation plan is a necessary component of each student’s college preparation journey. 

For the 2020-2021 school yearwe created a new school-wide standardized testing program that involves all Upper School students. Our goal is to give families more information at an earlier point in a student’s Upper School academic career. The College Center will then be better able to guide families on this crucial part of the college application process. 
 
Many students are anxious about taking standardized tests. We believe following this testing schedule will help students become more familiar with the content and format of the SAT and build their test-taking endurance and strategies.  
 
Early testing will also reveal areas of academic strength and weakness, enabling our College Center to make more specific recommendations around test preparation and the college process. For instance, some students may determine that they are better suited for the ACT than the SAT.  
 
We view the college process as a partnership between families and Nichols. As with any partnership, communication is key. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the College Counseling Center with any questions or concerns you may have.    

Standardized Testing By Grade

  PSAT SAT ACT AP Exams
Seniors No Yes* Yes* Yes
Juniors Yes Yes* Yes* Yes
Sophomores Yes** No No Yes
Freshmen Yes No No No
 
* Please contact College Counseling to determine which test-prep path is best before registering for the SAT or ACT. 

**Interested sophomores may request to take the PSAT/NMSQT. Please contact College Counseling for more information. 

List of 8 items.

  • PSAT

    PSAT 8/9
    Beginning in the fall of 2020Nichols School will offer a greater range of the SAT Suite of Assessments. This is an integrated testing system that culminates in the SAT or ACT test junior year. Beginning in 9th grade with the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) 8/9, students will take an SAT-related assessment each year that is specific to the skills and knowledge expected at their grade level. The following testing schedule will allow both Nichols and families to monitor student progress and plan for college. 
     
    Nichols students first encounter college-related standardized testing with the PSAT 8/9 in October of their freshman year. The test administration is purely designed as practice for students for future tests. Freshmen will automatically be registered for the PSAT 9 by Nichols School. The cost of the exam (approx. $13) will be billed to each student’s account. 
     
    • Here is the Fall 2020 PSAT 8/9 Student Guide, including PSAT information, test-taking advice and tips, and an official practice test with answer explanations. 
     
    PSAT 10
    The SAT Suite of Assessments continues with the PSAT 10 in the spring of sophomore year. Sophomores will be automatically registered for the PSAT 10. The cost of the exam ($17) will be billed to each student’s account. 
     
    • Here is the Spring 2020 PSAT 10 Student Guide, including PSAT information, test-taking advice and tips, and an official practice test with answer explanations. 
     
    PSAT/NMSQT
    In October of their junior year, students will take the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), which is used to qualify for National Merit Scholarships, as well as to practice for the SAT or ACT. Juniors and interested sophomores will be automatically registered for the PSAT/NMSQT by Nichols School. The cost of the exam (approx. $17) will be billed to each student’s account. Note:  
     
    • Here is the Fall 2020 PSAT/NMSQT Student Guide, including PSAT/NMSQT information, test-taking advice and tips, and an official practice test with answer explanations. 
    • Here is a helpful link to two official College Board practice PSAT/NMSQT tests, including answer sheets, answer explanations, and scoring guides. 
     
    PSAT Test Scores
    PSAT results are typically available online 4-6 weeks after test administration. For more information on the PSAT 8/9, 10, and NMSQT, please click here. 
  • SAT or ACT: How to Decide

    All colleges and universities that require standardized testing accept both the ACT and SAT. College admissions counselors have stated that they do not prefer one test over the other. Each test has its own pros and cons, and some students perform significantly better on one test over the other. The popularity of either test, nationally or in a specific region, should not be the determining factor when choosing which test to take. Rather, thoughtful planning and diagnosis should be given to set students on the most successful test-prep path. 

    In the spring of sophomore year, students will meet with their college counselor to begin the discussion about the college path, including test preparation. The college counselors will provide some diagnostic quizzes and a careful examination of PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 results to help determine whether the SAT or ACT is the best test-prep path to pursue.  

    The true test for determining which test-prep path to pursue, however, is to take a timed, full-length practice ACT and SAT in the spring of sophomore year. Both offer uniquely different testing styles and content, and many students distinctly prefer one over the other. 

    For a full-length practice SAT, click here. [3 hours] 
    For a full-length practice ACT, click here. [3 hours] 

    Once the testing path has been determined, student can confidently begin test preparation and can then register for the SAT or ACT on their own through the College Board website or the ACT website. 
  • Standardized Test Preparation

    Familiarity with standardized tests, including the order of the test sections, timing, and concepts tested increases confidence and reduces test anxiety. 
     
    To support Nichols students, standardized test preparation is offered throughout the school year and during the Summer at Nichols programming. The classes and workshops are instructed by Chris Hill, Associate Director of College Counseling and Upper School Faculty. For more information about test preparation, contact Chris at chill@nicholsschool.org or at (716) 332-5162.  
  • SAT

    Nichols School recommends that most students take their first administration of the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) after completing Algebra 2 and between October and March of their junior year. Late summer test dates are also available for students who choose to spend time preparing during the summer months. 
     
    This is an individual process, and students should speak with a College Counselor to best determine the right time to take this test. Students should plan to take the SAT exam at least two times after some preparation. For information about Superscoring on the SAT, click here.  
     
    Additionally, we recommend that all students take the SAT with Optional Essay. Most schools use this score for placement rather than admission. While each school makes the decision individually whether to require this, students should take it at least once because the SAT Essay cannot be taken alone. If a student later decides to apply to a school that does require the Essay, they will have to retake the entire test.  
     
    Students must register themselves for the SAT through the College Board website. The registration process takes about 45 minutes, and a student photo must be uploaded. 
  • ACT

    Nichols School recommends that most students take their first administration of the ACT (American College Testing) after completing Algebra 2 and between October and March of their junior year. Late summer test dates are also available for students who choose to spend time preparing during the summer months. 
     
    This is an individual process, and students should speak with a College Counselor to best determine the right time to take this test. Students should plan to take the ACT exam at least two times after some preparation. For information about Superscoring on the ACT, click here. 
     
    Additionally, we recommend that all students take the ACT Test with WritingMost schools use this score for placement rather than admission. While each school makes the decision individually whether to require the ACT Essay, students should take it at least once because the Writing Test cannot be taken alone. If a student later decides to apply to a school that does require the writing, they will have to retake the entire test.  
     
    Students must register themselves for the ACT through the ACT website. Click here to learn more. The registration process takes about 45 minutes, and a student photo must be uploaded. 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Program

    Advanced Placement (AP) is a program offered by The College Board. It provides high school students with the opportunity to take college-level courses. There are 38 AP subjects, each with a corresponding AP Exam. Most colleges award students with qualifying AP Exam scores college credit, the opportunity to skip intro-level courses in the subject, or both. 
     
    At Nichols School, class placement is determined by the Deans, Advisors, and Teachers, who work collaboratively to determine a student’s most fitting academic course scheduleStandardized testing can be a useful tool for parents and students as a predictor of future success in Advanced Placement coursesThe PSAT/NMSQT Score Report indicates which college-level AP courses students have the potential to succeed in.  
     
    AP courses and exams enable students to challenge themselves, explore their interests, and earn college credit and placement, including skipping introductory college courses.  
    AP can give students a taste of college-level work while developing the academic skills needed for college success. Through AP courses, students may even discover their career paths.  
     
    Students enrolled in an Advanced Placement course are required to take the corresponding AP exam.  
     
    Please consult the Upper School Dean, Kerry Bennett, the AP Coordinator, Sarah Jacobson, or the staff in College Counseling for questions about the administration of AP examinations. 
     
    Click here for more information about The College Board’s AP Program.  
  • Standardized Testing Accommodations

    If you have concerns about accommodations for the SAT Suite of Assessments and ACT testing, please contact Ann Jacobson, Learning Specialist, at ajacobson@nicholsschool.org. 
  • SAT and ACT Fee Waivers

    Fee waivers are distributed by the school to assist low-income students for whom payment of fees for the tests might be a barrier to college entrance. If you think you may be eligible for a fee waiver, please contact your College Counselor. 

About Us

Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 128-year history.