How Do Colleges Use Entrance Exams?
  • Admissions – Test scores along with information about grades, course rigor, class rank, school and community activities, planned college activities, work experience and personal and family background help colleges identify applicants who can benefit most from their programs.
  • Scholarships – Many scholarships use test scores to help identify qualified candidates. An ACT composite 24 is typically the minimum score for scholarships.
  • Placement – Colleges usually take into account individual strengths and weaknesses as the place students in first-year courses.
  • Advising – A college adviser may take into consideration scores, along with high school curriculum and grades, and career plans to help develop a plan of study for college.
ACT or SAT, Which is Best?

Most colleges accept either the ACT or SAT and use a simple conversion label to compare scores. Both test companies consistently state the best preparation for the ACT or SAT is the years of solid academic classroom work preceding the test. The majority of Columbus High Students take the ACT and generally seem to score better on the test since it covers English, Math, Science Reasoning and Reading Comprehension while the SAT covers Math, English and Writing.


ACT has established college readiness benchmarks to indicate a 50% chance of earning a B or higher, or a 75% chance of earning a C or higher in the corresponding college course.

  • College English Composition – score of 18 on ACT English test
  • College Algebra – score of 22 on ACT Math test
  • College Social Studies – score of 21 on ACT Reading test
  • College Biology – score of 24 on ACT Science test

ACT has added a Writing test that students can opt to take. At the present time, no colleges in Nebraska are using the Writing score.


Students who need to take the SAT are those who:

  • Are applying for ROTC scholarships or to one of the service academies;
  • Are considering schools on the east or west coast or those that are highly selective.

Two year colleges may require either the ACT or COMPASS tests. COMPASS is an un-timed, computerized test that helps a college evaluate your skills and place students in appropriate courses. COMPASS scores indicate strong and weak areas. Central Community College accepts either ACT or COMPASS scores.