Standardized Testing Information

Students who plan to attend a four-year university following graduation from high school are typically required to submit an ACT or SAT score to the university as part of the application process.  Most universities will accept either the ACT or the SAT.  Additional information regarding these tests can be found at the links below.

NOTE: Students will register for testing directly through the ACT and/or SAT websites.


The Cognitive Abilities Test measures students’ learned reasoning abilities in the three areas most closely related to success in school:

  • The Verbal Battery measures students’ abilities to reason with verbal images and concepts. These reasoning abilities play an important role in reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing, and virtually all verbal learning tasks.
  • The Quantitative Battery measures students’ abilities to reason with quantitative symbols and concepts. These reasoning skills are significantly related to problem-solving in mathematics and other disciplines.
  • The Nonverbal Battery measures students’ abilities to reason with geometric shapes and figures. To perform successfully, students must accurately implement strategies for solving novel problems.

The three separate batteries provide a broad perspective on each student’s learned reasoning abilities, identifying cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

Each subtest includes practice questions to help students become familiar with the content and format of the subtests. These practice questions help students gain familiarity with the item formats and how to complete the different reasoning tasks.

No reading is required of students in any of the subtests. Students review the pictorial questions and answer choices and then fill in or click the circle under the picture that answers the question. The test is not timed, but each subtest takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. 

Iowa Assessments

The Iowa Assessments help determine how students are performing on nationwide standards. These assessments measure achievement in several important content areas including Reading, Written Expression, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.

The Iowa Assessments help teachers identify a student’s strengths and areas that may need additional emphasis. The Iowa Assessments also measure student growth and progress in the content areas assessed from year to year and may provide information about college readiness. The assessments produce information that enables sound decision-making and provides a focus for teachers to evaluate instruction.

Each test includes sample questions to help students become familiar with the content and format of the tests. Students mark their answers in their answer folders by filling in a circle for each question. All test questions are multiple-choice.


The Preliminary SAT is required for all 11th grade students. The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by College Board and cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the United States. Approximately 3.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT each year. The scores from the PSAT/NMSQT are used to determine eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

The PSAT is given each October. Juniors are required to take the PSAT to prepare for their college entrance exams. The PSAT/NMSQT is a practice test for the SAT Reasoning Test, as well as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship. The results of the PSAT give students information about their testing skills in the areas of evidence-based reading/writing and math.

Online resource:

The National Merit® Scholarship is an annual, academic competition among high school students for recognition and college scholarships. The program is conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. Achieving an exceptional score on the PSAT is the first step in the process of earning a National Merit Scholarship.


The SAT is a standardized exam used by colleges to predict a student’s potential success in college. It is usually taken in the spring of the junior year after students have had a chance to take the PSAT and review those results. The SAT measures the critical thinking skills that demonstrate how well a student can analyze and solve problems. The test is composed of two sections: evidence-based reading/writing and math.

Students may take this test more than one time. CCS does not administer the SAT on-site, but registration materials and a preparation booklet are available in the guidance department. Registration is online at CCS’s SAT school code is 360-954.

Free SAT practice is available through Khan Academy:


The ACT is another standardized exam used by colleges to predict a student’s potential success in college. Scores on the ACT range from 1-36 with a score of 20 being close to the 50th percentile. The test is composed of four academic sections with an optional fifth writing section.

For those interested in the writing test portion of the ACT, there is an additional fee. This test will be administered after the four multiple-choice tests, and will not affect the composite score.

Students may take this test more than one time. If any students would like additional help in preparation to retake the test, please contact the guidance department. Mrs. Gina Smearsoll conducts SmartPrep classes once a year in the fall. Information will be available in the CCS Snapshot. ACT registration materials and a preparation booklet are available in the guidance department. Registration is online at CCS’s ACT school code is 360-954.  

AP Program 

The Advanced Placement® program enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. College-level courses are developed by the AP program. High schools can choose to offer these courses and their corresponding exams that are administered once a year.

Each AP course concludes with an AP exam. These assessments are designed by the same expert committee that designed the course. Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 by college and university professors and experienced AP teachers. Many U.S. colleges offer credit for AP exam scores of 3 or higher.

AP exams are administered at authorized schools and test centers. Most high schools that offer AP courses choose to administer AP exams to their own students as well as external AP students. Schools that opt not to administer AP exams can refer students to another AP testing location. CCS offers on-campus exams for every AP course it offers.