Standardized Testing

In Illinois, all juniors must take the SAT as a graduation requirement. A student may want to take the ACT, too, to determine if that test highlights a student’s abilities better. The SAT and ACT are different tests that in many ways measure different skills. If you would like to see how the SAT compares to the ACT, click here. Both tests are used for college-based admissions and merit scholarship consideration.

Note: there are test-optional and test flexible policies at some schools - see Fairtest for a list of those schools. Keep in mind that the majority of schools still require standardized test scores.


  • ACT and SAT test scores are not included on a student's transcript; they must be sent separately to colleges.
  • Non-Saturday testing for both the ACT and SAT is available only for students who are unable to take the test on a Saturday due to religious convictions.

Preparing for the Tests

  • Niles West offers an SAT test prep class that usually runs for eight weeks on Saturdays and Sundays and before/after school, beginning in January through March. Be on the lookout for class times, fees, and registration information. Students will take a 3-hour mock exam on the last day of class, which is great practice for the real experience.
  • Free test prep resources can be found on the ACT and SAT websites and through Khan Academy. Note: Niles West does not endorse any test prep companies or individuals.
  • Eat breakfast and get a good night’s sleep before the exam.


Students may register for the ACT online at  The basic test costs $60.00, and the exam with the optional writing test is $85.00. Fee waivers are available.

National ACT Dates for 2021-2022

Niles West's test center code is 143-926

Test Date


Late Registration

September 11, 2021

August 6, 2021

August 20, 2021

October 23, 2021

September 17, 2021

October 3, 2021

December 11, 2021

November 5, 2021

November 19, 2021

February 12, 2022

January 7, 2022

January 21, 2022

April 2, 2022

February 25, 2022

March 11, 2022

June 11, 2022

May 6, 2022

May 20, 2022

July 16, 2022

June 17, 2022

June 24, 2022


Niles West offers the required SAT for free during the school day, typically in April for Juniors; registration is done in school. Benefits include taking the test in familiar surroundings and no changes to your weekday schedule. For other SAT exam dates, students may register online at The basic test costs $55.00, and the exam with the optional essay portion is $85.00. Fee waivers are available.

National SAT Dates for 2021-2022

Niles West's test center code is 143-926

Test Date


Late Registration

August 28, 2021

July 30, 2021

August 17, 2021

October 2, 2021

September 3, 2021

September 21, 2021

November 6, 2021

October 8, 2021

October 26, 2021

December 4, 2021

November 4, 2021

November 23, 2021

March 12, 2022, SAT I only

February 11, 2022

March 1, 2022

April 2022, State Testing

May 7, 2021

April 8, 2022

April 26, 2022

June 4, 2022

May 65, 2022

May 25, 2022

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

Advanced Placement Exams provide high school students the opportunity to study at an advanced college level. AP Exams take place during the first two full weeks of May at specific times for specific exams. Students may qualify to receive college credit, depending on the scores they receive; scores are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Individual college websites have details/guidelines about which AP scores, credits, and courses will transfer and provide credit to a student.

Test dates: May 2 - 13, 2022

DateMorning (8:00 AM)Afternoon (12:00 PM)
May 2, 2022United States Government & PoliticsChemistry

Spanish Literature & Culture

May 3, 2022Environmental SciencesPsychology
May 4, 2022 

English Literature & Composition

Comparative Government & Politics

Computer Science A

May 5, 2022MacroeconomicsStatistics
May 6, 2022European History

United States History

May 9, 2022Calculus AB

Calculus BC

Computer Science & Principles
May 10, 2022English Language & CompositionPhysics C: Mechanics (12:00 PM)

Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism (2:00 PM)

May 11, 2022Chinese Language and Culture

Spanish Language and Culture

May 12, 2022French Language and Culture

World History

Physics 1: Algebra-Based
May 13, 2022German Language & Culture

Music Theory

Physics 2: Algebra-Based


Do colleges/universities have a preference between the ACT and SAT?
No, they do not have a preference between the two tests anymore. The tests are treated equally in terms of admission.

What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?
The SAT is offered 8x per year. The test has two required sections: Math & Evidence-Based Reading & Writing. The scores are added together to provide a composite score on a scale of 400-1600. There is an optional essay that does not affect the total score. The exam takes 3 hours or 3 hours and 50 minutes with the optional essay. In general, the SAT gives you more time to think through questions than the ACT. There is no penalty for guessing.

The ACT is offered 7x per year. It has four sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science. There is an optional essay that does not affect the composite score. The scores are averaged together to calculate a composite score out of 36, with separate scores for STEM, Writing, and English/Language Arts if the optional essay is taken. The exam takes 2 hours and 55 minutes or 3 hours and 40 minutes with the optional essay. There is no penalty for guessing.

Should students send the free score reports when signing up for the ACT and SAT?
This is a personal decision, but we encourage students to take advantage of the four free scores the exams provide when registering. We suggest students send them to colleges where they are more certain of admission, although colleges will consider the highest overall score that is sent to them. The College Board does allow students to send the free scores within nine days of taking the SAT - before the scores are known. Some colleges require students to send all of their test scores, so sending them ahead of time can save money.