Standardized Testing

Many colleges and universities require standardized test scores as part the admission application. A number of schools in the country have recently taken a more flexible approach to test scores. Use the information below to learn more about standardized testing, and how to prepare for these various types of tests. If you have any questions please contact your college counselor. 

Information on Testing

AP Testing

Starting with the 2017-2018 school year Cardinal Gibbons decided to allow students enrolled in AP classes to decide whether or not they would like to take the AP test in May. 


Why do students take AP tests?

AP tests are a standardized measure of learning and a cumulative assessment of the course. At many colleges and universities a certain score can allow the student college credit or placement into a higher level course. 

How do I determine whether or not I should take an AP test?

There are many factors to be considered when deciding whether or not to take a particular AP tests and they differ depending on the grade level of the student. 

Seniors - We suggest that students research the AP score requirements for all the schools they have applied/been admitted to for each school independently decides which tests and scores they will allow. Does a school award credit for a certain AP course? If so what score is needed? Some schools will only allow students to submit a score from one AP English AP so much sure to look at that.

Once students have that information they need to look at the AP classes they are enrolled in and think about how much time they have to prepare for the tests. Consider time needed for studying for finals, how strong a student they are in that subject and the cost of the test. Students can select to take only certain tests and not take others. 

Juniors- If students have any colleges that they know you are going to apply to, visit the school website to find out which AP tests are accepted and what scores are needed to earn college credit. Students then need to consider how much time they have to study for the exam in addition to other academic responsibilities. Students will also want to factor in whether or not they are taking the SAT in May and how much time is needed to prepare for that as well. 

Sophomores- Students will need to consider how much time they have to prepare for the exam in addition to other academic responsibilities. 

What does Cardinal Gibbons recommend?

We do encourage students to take the AP exam for the AP courses they are enrolled in for students have already prepared for it through completing the course, it allows students a way to assess their learning in a class, and it may be applicable if a student chooses to transfer colleges for another institution may offer credit or placement options. However we want each student to make an educated decision that is appropriate for their future academic endeavors and for their family. 

What will colleges think if I do not take the AP exam?

Not taking the AP exam will not count again a student in the college admission process. Colleges will want to see any AP scores that a student has once they have matriculated in order to determine if credit has been earned or for placement. Scores are not used in making admission decisions. 

Who can I reach out to to obtain assistance in making this decision?

We encourage students to talk with their AP teacher(s) to find out from them how they feel the student would fare on the test as well as to determine the best way to prepare for the test. In addition we recommend that students reach out to their counselor to talk through the pros and cons of taking the AP test and to discuss how colleges assess AP test scores. 

When and how do I register to take an AP test?

Starting with the 2019-2020 school year the College Board is requiring registration to occur much earlier than in past years. Below is the schedule to register:

Registration and payment will open on September 10, 2019 and will close on November 1 2019. The cost for each test is $94 and is paid at the time of the registration via credit card. 

If between November 1st and March 1st you choose not to take the test please let Jeanette Hadsell know and $40 of your $94 registration fee will be refunded. The remainder of the fee is charged by College Board and Gibbons to make the change. Refunds cannot be processed after March 1st.

If you decide between November 2nd and March 1st that you would like to take an AP test(s) and had not registered the cost will he $150/test. This reflects the test cost as well as late administrative charges from both the College Board and Cardinal Gibbons. No late test registrations allowed after March 1st. 

Can my student receive testing accommodations on an AP test?

AP tests are governed by the College Board. Only students officially approved for accommodations by the College Board will be granted accommodations on an AP test. This application process can take up to 8 weeks and the deadline to apply for accommodations for any AP test is January 7, 2020. For further information please go to our academic accommodations webpage. Please contact your student's counselor with any questions.

AP Test Registration and Payment

Registration for 2020 AP exams will open September 10th and the deadline to register is November 1st.

The cost of each test is $94. 

Test day logistics will be communicated to students via their respective AP classes in early April. 

If you have questions regarding registration please contact Jeanette Hadsell, Director of College Counseling. If you have questions about test material, please see your teacher.

SAT School Day

Gibbons is pleased to offer an official SAT test without essay during the school day. This opportunity offered by the College Board is open to Gibbons juniors only. This allows students the chance to test at a familiar location and when weekend committments are not a factor.


We will offer the School Day SAT without essay on Wednesday, March 27, 2019.As we have a limited number of seats available, registration will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Registration will open at 9 a.m. on January 4th and will close no later than January 25th at 9 a.m.

This test is full and registration has been closed. 

January 28th - the waitlist is now closed. 




Test Prep

Many Gibbons students like to prep for a standardized tests to ensure the best possible outcome when sitting for standardized tests. This information provides some resources and tips to help you decide what is best for you.

Test Prep Tips


When to take the tests?
We recommend that students wait until junior year to take any official standardized tests.It is important to review the school year calendar in light of commitments to determine the best time of year and test dates to take tests. Juniors should plan to talk at least two standardized tests in junior year. There are several approaches that a student can take:

  • Take the PSAT seriously in October and plan to take the December ACT. Once scores are back from both tests, we can compare the two to see which test seems strongest. The stronger test can be taken later in junior year. (Bonus: The December ACT offers the opportunity to purchase the test questions and answers to help with prep.)
  • Students can take one official SAT and one official ACT and compare scores to see which is the better test and then retake the stronger test.
  • Students can work with a tutor to take a practice SAT and ACT to see which test seems to be a better test and then plan to take two of the same test.

When to start test prep? 
We recommend that you pick test dates and then plan to begin test prep so that it ends just before the test date. This allows you to maximize the prep time and cost. 

What type of prep is best?
There are many resources offering a variety of opportunities including group classes, small group tutoring and individual preparation. If you are a good test taker and tend perform well on standardized tests and simply need a refresher on concepts and what to expect, then a large group or class prep may be best. If you tend to struggle with standardized tests or need to review specific concepts or test taking techniques, small group or individual tutoring may be most beneficial. Although smaller group and individual tutoring tend to be more expensive per hour, when it is geared to individual needs, the benefits seem to be greater for those students who need it. 

Do you have a list of recommended test prep options? 
Yes. We keep a list of some resources on our College Counseling Portal page. (You must login to view.) 

Does Gibbons offer test prep opportunities? 
Yes. Group classes are offered a few times of year for both tests. Specific information can be found below.


Gibbons SAT Prep Class

The fall SAT prep class is open to all CGHS juniors and seniors. This class is preparing for the October 5th test. 

  • Classes will be taught in small groups by tutors from BrainTrust Tutoring.
  • Classes will be held on Tuesday mornings from 7 am-8 am on the following dates:
    • August 20, 27, September 3, 10, 17, 24 and October 1. 
  • Students will be given room assignments the week before the class starts.
  • The cost for the class and book is $195.

We encourage all participants to register by September 6th ( for the October 5th SAT test.

Registration for this class is now closed.

The next prep class at Gibbons will be in the winter of 2020. 

Gibbons ACT Prep Class

The fall ACT prep class is open to all CGHS juniors and seniors. This class is preparing for the October 26th ACT test. 

  • Classes will be taught in small groups by tutors from BrainTrust Tutoring.
  • Classes will be held on Thursday mornings from 7am - 8am on the following dates:
    • September 12, 19, 26, October 3, 10, 17, 24. 
  • Students will be given room assignments the week before the class starts.
  • The cost for the class and book is $195.

We encourage all participants to register by September 20th ( for the October 26th ACT test. 

This class is now closed. 

The next prep class at Gibbons will be in the winter of 2020.


  • Gibbons gives the PSAT/NMSQT. It is the Preliminary SAT.

    • Wednesday, October 16, 2019
    • The PSAT is required of all Gibbons students in grades 9, 10 and 11, and is administered on campus.
    • Gibbons seniors do not have classes and do not have to come to school on PSAT Day.
    • There is no need to register.
    • First bell is at 8 a.m. and the late bell is at 8:05 a.m.
    • Freshman and sophomore students should report on time to their first period class.
    • Junior students should report on time to one of the gyms.
      • Juniors with last names beginning with letters A-G report to the auxiliary gym.
      • Juniors with last names beginning with letters H-Z report to the main gym.
    • All students need to be in dress code.
    • All students need to bring a calculator and two #2 pencils.
    • All students may bring a snack in a plastic bag and a water bottle. Eating and drinking is only permitted during breaks.
    • All students will be dismissed for the day at noon.
    • PSAT scores are used in some academic areas for making class placement decisions for the following school year.
  • The PSAT has four test sections: reading, writing and language, math with calculator, math without calculator.
  • There is no written essay.
  • Guessing is OK.
  • Two subscores are reported: evidenced-based reading and writing and math. Each subsection is scored between 160-760.
  • Taking the test provides practice and exposure to questions in preparation for the SAT.
  • Scores may be referenced during course placement time for the subsequent year’s classes. (See the Course of Studies Book for course prerequisites.)
  • For Juniors, it provides National Merit Scholarship Qualifying opportunities.
  • Scores are accessible through the College Board's website late-December/early January each year. Students will receive an email with instructions and access code information. For more information about the test and practice questions, see the College Board's PSAT website.
PSAT Day Info Poster 2019


  • Offered 7 times a year.
  • Redesigned in 2016.
  • Consists of 4 sections and an optional essay (we recommend taking the essay in case a school
    needs it.)
  • Scores are reported in two parts: Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing & Math
  • Highest Score on each section is 800.
  • There is no penalty for guessing.
  • Additional information, test dates and registration information can be found on the College Board website. Note: Cardinal Gibbons is not a test center for the SAT.


  • Overseen and administered by The ACT.
  • Offered 6 times a school year.
  • Composed of four sections: reading, math, science and English, with an optional writing section (we advise all students to register for the writing section).
  • Scoring consists of a subscore for each section averaged together to produce a single composite score.
  • The highest possible score is a 36 for any subsection and for the composite.
  • There is no penalty for guessing.
  • Some schools will “superscore” the ACT (Take the highest subscores across test dates for admission consideration).
  • To register, please go to The ACT. Note: Cardinal Gibbons is not a test center for the ACT.

Test Accommodations

For students with learning disabilities or other conditions that may interfere with test taking under regular conditions, accommodations may be a consideration. Students who want to pursue accommodations on any standardized tests need to review the specific eligibility criteria set by each testing organization. The process to request accommodations must follow the respective organizations guidelines and deadlines. Specific information is below.

PSAT/SAT/AP Accommodations

These are College Board tests. Application for accommodations can be made as early as middle of freshman year. Once accommodations are approved for College Board tests, they remain in place throughout high school.

For an overview of the process and required documentation to apply, please review the College Board's Services for Students with Disabilities information. This process can take up to eight weeks to render a decision on an accommodation request.

Please note: Freshman taking the PSAT in October will take the test without accommodations. Applications will be filed during freshman year to ensure accommodations are in place for subsequent years.

Applications for accommodations for College Board tests are completed through the SSD Coordinator, Susan Ellis.

ACT Accommodations

Applications for ACT accommodations are make at the time of test registration and are due by the test registration deadline.

For an overview of the process and required documentation, please review the ACT's Services for Examinees with Disabilities information.

This process can take up to three weeks to render a decision on an accommodation request.

For a student who meets the ACT eligibility criteria for accommodations, applications can be made as soon as registration is complete and is submitted through the accommodations ACT Test Coordinator, Susan Ellis.


When should I take the SAT or ACT test?

We recommend that students take a minimum of two standardized tests in junior year. Additional tests should be taken, if needed. Students can take one SAT and one ACT or two of either test.

Usually the first SAT/ACT test date of senior year will be accepted for most college application deadlines. Subsequent tests may not meet an early application deadline. Contact your College Counselor to discuss specifics.

Which test should I take?

Colleges will accept SAT and ACT scores alike for college admissions. There is no preference give to one test over another for any school.

One suggested approach is for junior students to perform their best on the October PSAT and then take the ACT mid-year. These scores can be compared to determine if a student favors one test over the other. A student would then retake the test they performed the best on to try and improve the scores.

Many colleges will superscore the SAT and some superscore the ACT. Superscore means they will take the highest subscore of any subsection of the same test no matter the test date. Taking a test more than once can help to raise scores, even if it is on one or two subsections.

How do I register?

Registration for the SAT is done through the College Board's website. Select a test center closest to your house; Gibbons is not a test center.

Registration for the ACT is done through the ACT's website. Select a test center closest to your house; Gibbons is not a test center.

I've heard some colleges have test-optional or test-flexible policies. What does that mean?

Some colleges have determined that standardized tests are not the best measure of a student's abilities and, therefore, have given students options. A list of schools that are test-optional or test flexible can be found on The National Center for Fair and Open Testing website.

Test-optional colleges may allow a student to submit an application without standardized tests scores. Some schools may have other requirements that must be met or require additional application materials to take advantage of the test-optional policy. Each college will post specifics on their website.

Test-Flexible schools may allow students to choose the types of test scores that can be submitted as a part of the application. This may include scores from SAT Subject tests or AP tests in lieu of SAT or ACT scores.

What is a subject test and should I take one?

SAT subject tests are one hour tests on specific topics. They are offered on the same dates as most SAT tests. Students can take up to three subject tests on a test day. They cannot take the SAT and subject tests on the same day.

A very small number of schools require or recommend that students take subject tests as part of their application for admissions. Review each college's policy to learn the requirements for admission. Very few of our students take subject tests.

Cardinal Gibbons does offer one in school SAT open to Juniors during the spring semester. The dates listed above for the SAT and ACT are dates the tests are held, and are not at Cardinal Gibbons. If you have any questions please contact your college counselor.