Standardized Testing Information

List of 3 items.

  • SAT and ACT

    While many colleges are moving towards becoming test-optional (some just temporarily), colleges will accept the SAT or the ACT and do not prefer one over the other. We recommend that juniors take either the ACT in April or June or (not both) the SAT in March or May. Taking the Writing or Essay section is not required by most colleges; confirm if the colleges you’re interested in require it. 
    LWHS college counselors can help you decide which test may be best suited to you. A handful of students take both tests junior year, in order to discover a better fit, though we recommend deciding that before taking official tests, as some colleges will see your entire testing record. LWHS hosts a mock test each year which is an excellent “no stakes” opportunity to try one of the exams.

    Regardless of which SAT or ACT date students choose, be sure to register early to have the best selection of testing locations. LWHS is not a test center, so students take the test elsewhere, except for some students who may need certain accommodations (see the Things To Consider box).

    Note that there will be several opportunities during senior year to retake the ACT (July, September, October, December) and the SAT and/or SAT Subject Tests (August, October, November, December). All of these dates will enable scores to arrive on time for regular application deadlines for private colleges, the University of California (UC), and most California State University (CSU) campuses. For students applying to college by an early deadline, scores from the December (and occasionally November, or even October) exam will not be available in time. It is the student’s responsibility to find out colleges’ standardized testing deadlines, as they do vary.
  • SAT Subject Tests

    No colleges in the U.S. require SAT Subject Tests for admission, though some do recommend them. Students must pay close attention to a college’s specific program requirements, as they may recommend specific Subject Tests. Note that international colleges and universities rely more heavily on Subject Test scores (and/or AP exam scores) than American colleges do when reviewing a candidate’s application for admission.
    Though the University of California (UC) does not require Subject Tests, students may want to consider taking one or two to remain competitive for admission. For students applying to engineering programs, Math 2 and/or a science Subject Test is highly recommended. Note that UCs do not accept Math 1 scores.

    LWHS students who are interested in very selective colleges (especially those that “recommend” Subject Tests) should at least consider taking two Subject Tests in the spring of junior year and/or the summer/fall of senior year. Students applying to very selective colleges should investigate the Subject Test options and make a well-informed decision, with the help of their college counselor and teachers, about whether to take them, depending on how prepared they are. 

    Though we don’t advise that anyone spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for these tests, we also recognize that including strong Subject Test scores in their application can improve a student’s profile at those colleges. Reading SAT Subject Tests Information may help you make an informed decision as you see how LWHS curriculum prepares students for the Subject Tests. 

    Subject Tests are typically taken in the spring of junior year and/or the summer/fall of senior year. Up to three Subject Tests can be taken on a single test date.  Note that Language with Listening tests are offered only in May and November. 

    Sophomores who are in higher level courses (e.g. math, world language), have studied outside of LWHS, or through knowledge of a world language may be prepared to take a math or world language Subject Test.
  • Don't like standardized testing?

    If standardized test-taking is not a strong suit, students may be happy to know there are several schools that don't require any standardized tests!

Early Applications

Most Early Decision and Early Action  applications are due November 1 or November 15. Scores from the October SAT or ACT test date will usually be reported on time. Students are responsible for checking with individual colleges to see the latest test dates they will accept and how the scores should be sent. (Rush Reporting is not necessarily the fastest way for colleges to receive scores; sometimes the best approach is to have your college counselor email your scores to the college right after you’ve received your online score report.)

Sending Scores

No need to send any standardized tests scores to colleges until your senior year. Many colleges now allow students to self-report their scores on their application, so you don’t have to send official scores until you’ve accepted a college’s offer of admission. Confirm the policy of the schools to which you’re applying.

Some colleges allow students to select which SAT scores to send (Score Choice), while others will require you to send all of your scores; colleges will use a student's best scores. The ACT allows students to select which scores they want to send. Both tests allow students to send scores to four schools for free within a short timeframe after the exam date.

Things to consider

List of 2 items.

  • Accommodations

    If students are using accommodations for the SAT or ACT, be aware that there are different steps they must take to register. Please consult with the Learning Strategies Center.
  • Fee waivers

    If students receive substantial Flex Tuition at LWHS, they may qualify for a fee waiver for the SAT and/or the ACT. Please see a college counselor to verify eligibility.

AP Exams

For information about Advanced Placement (AP) exams, please contact Owen Dempsey, the LWHS Testing Coordinator. Note that we do not proctor AP exams for students who are not enrolled at LWHS.



Lick-Wilmerding High School

755 Ocean Avenue | San Francisco, CA 94112 | 415.333.4021
A private school with public purpose, Lick-Wilmerding High School develops the head, heart, and hands of highly motivated students from all walks of life, inspiring them to become lifelong learners who contribute to the world with confidence and compassion.