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The Tests You'll Need

Tests You’re required to take a number of tests during high school. Some help make sure you have the knowledge needed for graduation, and others measure your level of reading, writing and math skills. The good news is, tests can tell you a lot about yourself. They measure your knowledge and skill level, and help you judge how ready you are for college.

Here are a few tests, and why they’re so important:
  • The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests determine if you have the necessary skills for your grade level, and the exit-level TAKS test shows if you have the skills needed to graduate from high school.
  • AP and CLEP exams allow you to gain college credit for things you've learned in high school.
  • The SAT and ACT indicate if you have the reading, writing and math skills needed for college-level work.
  • All students (except those who score at or above the College Readiness Standard on the exit-level TAKS test) must take a Texas Success Initiative (TSI) test before enrolling in college-level courses. Your college advisor will use the results to help you choose the right courses.

Tests for high school graduation

  • Before graduating from high school, students must pass the exit-level TAKS, which is given in the spring semester of 11th grade. Home-schooled students are not required to take the TAKS test, but may require an assessment under the provisions of the Texas Success Initiative legislation to determine if they have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in college.
  • If you can’t complete high school, you should take the General Educational Development (GED) Test. Passing the GED is equivalent to a high school diploma.

Tests for entrance into Texas public colleges and universities

You must take a College Readiness test before beginning classes at a Texas public college or university to be sure you have the reading, writing, and math skills needed for college-level work. These tests may not be required if you:

  • Received a TAKS scale score of at least 2200 on the math section and/or 2200 on the English Language Arts section with a writing subsection score of at least 3;
  • Scored a 23 or higher on the ACT composite and a minimum of 19 on both the English and math tests;
  • Earned a combined (verbal + math) SAT score of 1070, with a minimum score of 500 on both sections; or
  • Enroll in a certificate program of 42 or fewer semester credit hours a public community college or technical college.

Additional exemptions may apply. See your high school counselor or advisor for more information.

Nationally recognized tests for admission to colleges and universities

Many colleges and universities in the U.S. and Texas require you to take either the SAT or the ACT test. Often your scores on these tests determine whether you will be admitted to the college of your choice. Some colleges and universities award special scholarships based on your scores.


Tests during High School:

(Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills / Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills)

The TEKS represents the knowledge and skills students should gain in school each year. Students are expected to learn TEKS from kindergarten all the way through high school, so that they will gain the skills they need to succeed in college and life when they graduate high school.

The TAKS are tests designed to make sure students have learned what they should; they cover the knowledge and skills of the TEKS. If students study, work hard, and read at home every day, they should do well on the TAKS tests. The TAKS tests are the best way schools can find out if students are learning everything they need to know to keep up and not get behind.

AP Exams
(Advanced Placement Program)

College-level AP courses enable you to earn credit or advanced standing at Texas colleges and universities.

(Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)

A multiple-choice test administered by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation. PSAT scores determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

(General Educational Development)

When passed, this group of five tests certifies that the student has high school level academic skills. To earn a GED, students must score higher than 40 percent of graduating high school seniors nationwide.


Tests for College:


The ACT test assesses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The tests cover four areas: English, mathematics, reading and science.

(Scholastic Aptitude Test)

Almost every college in America accepts the SAT as a part of its admissions process. More than two million students take the SAT every year.

(Texas Higher Education Assessment)

The THEA Test is used by Texas colleges and universities as a way to evaluate the readiness of students for college-level coursework in Texas.

(College Level Examination Program)

These tests give you the opportunity to receive college credit for what you you've already learned through independent study, prior course work, on-the-job training, professional development, cultural pursuits or internships.

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