Personal tools


Exams are important because they help measure how much you’ve learned and understand about a subject. Doing well on exams can open doors to future opportunities, like getting into a good college or qualifying for scholarships. Think of exams as a way to show what you know and as a step toward achieving your goals.


  • The SAT exam, or Scholastic Assessment Test, is a standardized test used by many colleges and universities in the United States to assess a student's readiness for college.
  • All 11th-grade students in New Mexico public schools will participate in the SAT during the school day in spring, except for those students with significant cognitive disabilities who take the alternate assessment based upon an IEP. 
  • Preparation: Many students prepare by studying the content covered on the test, taking practice tests, and sometimes taking prep courses.
  • The SAT sections: Reading, writing and language, math (algebra, geometry, and some trigonometry). The math section is divided into a part where you can use a calculator and a part where you can't.
  • SAT Dates and Deadlines: The SAT is offered several times a year, and students typically take it in their junior or senior year of high school. You can retake it if you want to try for a better score. 


  • The ACT exam, or American College Testing, is another standardized test used by colleges and universities in the United States to assess a student's readiness for college.
  • The ACT sections are English, math (algebra, geometry, and some trigonometry), reading, and science.
  • Preparation: To prepare for the ACT, students often review content from their high school courses, take practice tests, and may take prep courses or use study guides.
  • ACT Dates and Deadlines: The ACT is offered several times a year, usually on Saturdays, and students often take it in their junior or senior year of high school. You can take it more than once if you want to try to improve your score. 

Test-Optional College Admissions Policies

  • Colleges know that test scores don’t always reflect a student's true abilities or potential. Some students might be great at school but not good at taking tests. Test-optional policies give students a chance to be evaluated on other aspects of their application.
  • Researching Policies: Each college has its policy on test scores. Some might be completely test-optional, while others might require scores for certain admissions, programs, or scholarships. It’s important to check the specific requirements of each college you’re interested in.


  • The PSAT helps you practice for the SAT and gives you an idea of what the test is like. It also provides feedback on your strengths and areas where you need improvement.
  • Structure: The PSAT is similar to the SAT but slightly shorter. It has three main sections: Reading, writing and language, and math.
  • National Merit Scholarship: If you take the PSAT in your junior year, your scores can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which offers scholarships to top-performing students.
  • Preparing for the PSAT/NMSQT (Resources)
  • When to Take It: The PSAT is usually taken in the 10th or 11th grade and it's typically administered in October.


  • Advanced Placement (AP) exams evaluate your knowledge of college-level material covered in AP courses. Doing well can earn you college credit, at many colleges and universities.
  • Structure: Each AP exam focuses on a specific subject and typically includes a combination of multiple-choice questions and free-response questions, which might include essays, problem-solving, or other tasks depending on the subject.
  • Scoring: AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5: Colleges accept scores of 3 or higher for credit, but it varies by institution.  
  • Preparation: To prepare for an AP exam, you usually take an AP course at your high school. These courses are designed to be rigorous and align with the content and skills tested on the exam. You can also use study guides, take practice tests, and review past exam questions. 


  • The Accuplacer is a test that helps colleges like CNM understand your skills in subjects like math, reading, and writing. Think of it as a tool that helps them see where you are academically and figure out the best classes for you to start with.  For more information, please visit the CNM Assessment Center.  


  • The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is a test used by the military to determine your strengths and potential for various military careers. It's like a career test that helps match your skills and interests with military jobs.
  • Career Guidance:  Even if you're not sure about joining the military, the ASVAB can give you a better idea of what kinds of careers might suit you based on your abilities and interests.
  • Structure: The ASVAB tests your knowledge on science, math, reading and writing, electronics information, auto and shop information, mechanical and physical principles, and problem-solving skills.  
  • Preparation: To learn more about the ASVAB and how to prepare for it, please visit the ASVAB program website.