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Last updated on August 29th, 2023.

College entrance exams are a big part of the higher education preparation process. Although not all colleges require them, many schools need an entrance exam score from students before considering them for admission. If you are a potential college student, you might wonder which entrance exam you should take.

The two main college entrance exams you should take are the ACT and the SAT. Both of these are the most widely used entrance exams and are accepted by most colleges and universities. These are tests that colleges often look at when determining if a student should be permitted inside.

Keep reading to learn more about college entrance exams and the two you should take before applying to your dream school. Tests might seem like a pain, but they can improve your chances of getting into a place of higher education. The college preparation process is worth your time and energy.

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What is a College Entrance Exam?

A college entrance exam is a test that measures your aptitude in many subjects before you begin the college journey. Many colleges use the scores from these tests to determine if you are a good fit for your university. However, some do not require college entrance exams at all for admission into their university.

The subjects that college entrance exams intend to test include:

  • Math
  • Verbal
  • Analytical
  • Writing

These are all items that many universities look for from their prospective students.

There are many different types of college entrance exams, and some may work better for varying students. Some are longer than others, and some are focused on different subjects in their exam. If you have a foundational knowledge of the best entrance exams, you can take the ones that work best for you.

(Here are some tips to help pass the college entrance exam)

Which College Entrance Exams Should I Take?

With all the college entrance exams, it can be tricky to decide which ones you should take. Some of them can cost quite a bit of money, so you want to make your choice wisely.

The two college entrance exams you should ensure you take include:

  • The SAT
  • The ACT

These two tests are the most critical to have under your belt before your next step of the university journey.

The SAT and ACT exams should be at the top of your list if you attempt to decide which tests to invest your time and money into for the future. Ensure you invest in at least one of them to give yourself the best shot at admission.

Is the College Entrance Exam Hard?

The words college entrance exam may sound intimidating to many. If you are considering taking this test, you might wonder if the college entrance exam is hard. Should you expect an extremely intense process when you go to take the test?

Several factors influence the difficulty of the test. These include:

  • Your ability to work within a limited time
  • The amount that you study
  • The preparation you do ahead of time

These will impact how difficult the test is for you.

There are many ways you can prepare for the exams, from taking practice versions online to joining test prep classes. The exam can be tricky, but most college entrance exams are not impossibly difficult. If you put the work in, you will have an easier experience than if you put nothing in at all.

Which is the Easiest Entrance Exam?

Though there is a lot of debate about which test is the easiest, the consensus is that the SAT is the simplest to get a high score on. It is also the test that most universities require and accept from their students.

The SAT is considered the easiest exam because:

  • There are many study materials available
  • There are practice tests
  • It is more language-based than other tests

For these reasons, the SAT is the simplest exam to take.

Although the SAT is less complex, none of the college entrance exams are overly confusing. The ACT and other subsequent tests are accessible by any student, though they all vary in price. You should do your research and embrace practice exams to figure out which one is the best for the way your brain works and your test-taking style.

The good news is you can take college entrance exams as many times as you would like before submitting your best score to the university of your choice. If you do poorly on the SAT the first time, you can always try again to see if you do better the second time. You can take them more than one time, unlike other types of exams. If it is hard, you can give it another shot.

Top 5 College Entrance Exams

There are many college entrance exams you can take before you start the university application process. Knowing which ones are best will allow you to make the best choice for your future. There are a few that rise to the top among all of the exams available. It is vital to know about all of them.

The top five college entrance exams you can take include:

  • The SAT
  • The ACT
  • SAT Subject Tests
  • The CLT
  • AP Exams

These are exams you can take before you go to college. You can choose to take one of them, or you can decide on taking on multiple. Ultimately, the choice is yours, depending on what you believe you can handle.

Read on to learn about each of these tests further in detail. Once you have a foundational knowledge of each of them, you can determine which one will work best for you to take on. All of them are unique, and every student will gravitate toward a different one. The more you know what to expect, the better prepared you will be.


The SAT is a multiple-choice test done on pen and paper. It is globally recognized as a college admissions test, and many colleges require the score from this test from applicants. It is scored out of 1600 and comprised of two sections, each worth 800 points.

The two sections that make up the SAT include:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: This section involves reading, analytical, and grammar questions.
  • Math: This section is solely based on math.

These are the sections covered on the SAT.

Perhaps the worst part of the SAT is the time limits required within each section. There are many ways to prepare for this test, so if you plan to take the test, ensure you take advantage of all the study methods available to you. You should be able to access them no matter where you are in the world.


The ACT is the other common entrance exam used by colleges, also done with pen and paper. It is globally recognized and available to all students. This test is scored out of 36 and has four sections, with a fifth optional add-on.

The four sections that make up the ACT include:

  • English: This section involves grammar skills and deduction.
  • Reading: This section tests reading and analytical abilities.
  • Math: This section views the tester’s math abilities.
  • Science: This section tests the student’s knowledge of science.

These are the sections covered on the ACT.

The ACT covers a broader range of subjects than the SAT. If you like science, you are more likely to excel on the ACT, unlike the SAT. However, some colleges may require one over the other.


The TOEFL, or Test of English as Foreign Language, is an exam that measures a way to test the English skills of non-native speakers. It is based on the internet and offers a score out of 30 for participants. It has four sections in total.

The four sections that make up the TOEFL include:

  • Reading: This section tests your ability to read English.
  • Listening: This section monitors your English listening comprehension skills.
  • Speaking: This section examines your ability to speak English.
  • Writing: This section tests your English writing abilities.

These make up the TOEFL.

If English is not your first language, you may be required to take the TOEFL. This test may be necessary if you want to study abroad or take courses in a country that requires English. You should research to see if the TOEFL is something you need to have under your belt before you apply.


The CLT, or Classic Learning Test, is an alternative college entrance exam. It is a new standard designed to be chosen rather than the SAT or ACT. The CLT offers a score out of 120, with three mandatory sections that students need to take and an optional essay. It is a change in a field that has been around for some time and has not changed significantly.

The three sections that make up the CLT include:

  • Verbal Reasoning: This section tests your comprehension skills as a whole.
  • Grammar/Writing: This section examines your grammar abilities.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This section dissects your number skills and ability to deal with numerical values.

These are the three sections included in the CLT.

For those that prefer same-day results, the CLT is an excellent option. It is a departure from the testing standards available, and many colleges are starting to accept it as a proper alternative to the traditional college entrance exams available to prospective students.

AP Exams

AP exams, or Advanced Placement exams, are tests that allow students to skip certain subjects and gain early credits in the universities of their choosing. Students who opt to take AP exams typically take a course beforehand, preparing them for the test. Depending on the score out of four, the student can then get an early jump on credits.

Some examples of available AP exams include:

  • S. History, along with other history courses such as European History
  • Calculus BC, along with other math classes such as Trigonometry and Calculus AB
  • English, along with other humanity classes such as Studio Art and Art History

These are all offered in the Advanced Placement test, along with many other subjects.

For students eager to get a head start on their courses, the AP exams are a great way to get started. They can decrease the overall cost of college and make the transition to university life smoother. They cost a significant fee to take but are cheaper than the college course. Of course, it is vital to note that low scores are not accepted by many universities.


College entrance exams are a critical part of the application process. There are many options to choose from in the testing world. Two of the best choices are the ACT and the SAT, which most colleges accept as the standard. You can opt to take just one of them or both of them and any extra tests you might want to include on the side.

Now that you know the differences between the two largest college entrance exams, you can select the test that will work best for your set of skills. An exam might seem scary, but it’s just another step on your way to higher education.

Do Employers Look Down on Online Degrees?

Today, most of us are all online professionally. There are tons of employment websites, professional networking platforms, and now many employers have moved their offices to online with the rise of a global pandemic. With this increased online presence, employers should be more accommodating with online degrees than ever before. Were they ever not?

A Northeastern University study done in 2019 suggests that employers tend not to look down on online degrees if the institution is accredited. In fact, 61% of HR leaders believe that online learning is of equal or greater quality to more traditional methods, and 71% of employers indicated that they hired a job applicant with an online degree in the past 12 months.

Obtaining an online degree is a preference that should not be looked down upon, considering the busy lives of students working toward their degree and the increasing popularity of online degrees in general.

There are many advantages to online degrees as The Department of Education found that students perform better than average online than students learning the same material in person. This could be due to advanced eLearning platforms that better fit student’s specific educational needs than the same approach professors may take to teach that same material.

So, the answer is no! Employers do not look down on online degrees. Online degrees are a more flexible and convenient way to finish your degree, all why receiving a quality education. If the college is accredited and offers programs that fit into your career goals, you are well on your way to stepping up your career.

Final Thoughts on College Entrance Exams

An online college is a fantastic option for those that want to earn a college degree but need to customize their education plan.  This is true whether you’re pursuing your online bachelors degree, an online masters degree or even just an online certification to enhance your profession.  While online college was once a luxury learning opportunity that wasn’t widely available and cost a small fortune, students wanting to attend online college now (there are even opportunities in Ivy League schools such as through Harvard Online Courses) have plenty of options financially, as well as program-wise.

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