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You have taken standardized exams for years, but the tests you take in high school might determine scholarships you can earn and, in some cases, the college you attend. Some colleges are now test-optional.

PSAT/NMSQT. You may take this test as a sophomore. The questions and format are similar to the SAT with reading, math, science, and language sections. The results may qualify you for scholarships like the National Merit Scholarship Program.

ACT. Nebraskans take the ACT in the spring of your junior year. It’s free because it’s mandated by the state. The ACTS covers English, math, reading, science, and includes an optional writing section.

SAT. This exam is more commonly used for schools on the east and west coasts and covers the same test subjects as the ACT, including an optional writing section.

To get the best ACT/SAT scores possible, retake the exam(s) in the summer and fall. You can also retake a single subject of the ACT. If the fee is difficult for your family to pay, ask your school counselor about a waiver.

Prep for exams. Visit ACT and College Board for sample questions, test dates, registration and fee information. Click here for test-prep options.

Attending a community college? You may be required to take the Accuplacer or Companion placement tests. Your college will provide details.