Getting ready

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Getting ready

How to Choose

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Information Gathering

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Admission requirements

A new state law requires all first-time freshmen to either:

  • successfully complete the curriculum requirements for the Texas Recommended or Distinguished Achievement high school program or its equivalent; or
  • earn an SAT score of at least 1500 out of 2400 or satisfy ACT benchmarks of 18 in English, 22 in math, 21 in social sciences and 24 in science.

Top 10 percent of high school class — Submit SAT or ACT score
Next 15 percent of high school class — Minimum 950 SAT or 20 ACT score
Second quarter of high school class — Minimum 1050 SAT or 23 ACT score
Third quarter of high school class — Minimum 1180 SAT or 26 ACT score

The application form

Your application, transcripts, class rank and entrance exam scores determine your acceptance to most colleges or universities. Some also may require an essay, interview or references.

You can get applications by calling the university or downloading them from the college’s website. You can apply to any Texas public university using the electronic Apply Texas Application. Your college application form will represent you to college admissions officials, so take the time to fill it out neatly, completely and correctly. Know the college’s deadlines and complete your application in plenty of time.

Read all the instructions that come with the application, and follow them closely. If you have questions, ask your high school counselor or call the college admissions office for clarification.

If you are not filling out an electronic form, type your responses or use black (not blue) ink. Carefully check your application for errors when you’re finished. It’s a good idea to have a parent or other adult double-check it whether you are applying online or by paper application. Be sure to send the application fee if required.

The ApplyTexas Application, official transcripts and required entrance exams must be on file with the UNT Office of Admissions by March 1 for the fall semester.

Official transcripts

As part of the application process, you will need to request an official transcript, or record of your grades, from your high school to be sent to the college(s) of your choice. If you have graduated, your transcript will list your class rank and grade point average. You may have to pay a small fee for each official transcript; unofficial transcripts or photocopies are not acceptable because of the possibility of grade tampering.

Entrance exams

The tests primarily used for admission to colleges are the ACT and the SAT. These tests are used with your high school record to evaluate your level of academic knowledge.

Although some colleges consider your high school grades and class rank, these criteria are subjective, meaning that schools vary and teachers vary — for example, two teachers judging the same English paper may give different grades. The SAT and ACT, however, are standardized. Colleges can use the same criteria to compare your scores with those of 2 million other students.

Which test should you take? Find out which entrance exams are required by the colleges you are interested in — some schools accept either test. If you are undecided about where to go to college, you should consider taking both exams to keep your options open.

Whichever test you take, plan ahead. The registration deadline is about a month before each test, so you must schedule your test in time to get results back for college admission deadlines.


The SAT has two versions. One is used as an entrance exam; the other, SAT subject tests, are equivalent to a placement test (see “SAT subject tests” section).

The SAT measures writing, reading and math skills. It has 10 separately timed sections and lasts about four hours. The first section is a 25-minute essay followed by six 25-minute sections and two 20-minute sections. These sections focus on math, critical reading and writing. The test concludes with a 10-minute multiple-choice writing section.

The range of your score is from 200 to 800 on each portion. Your total score is the writing, reading and math portions added together, and a perfect score is 2400. The national average score is 1509. The test costs $50. You should request that scores be sent to colleges of your choosing. You may pick up an SAT bulletin, which includes a registration form, at your high school or a local college, or register on the web.

SAT subject tests

The SAT subject tests are one-hour, primarily multiple-choice tests in 20 subjects. The tests, which cost from $12 to $23 (plus a $23 registration fee), measure knowledge or skills in a particular subject and your ability to apply that knowledge. Some colleges require one or more of the subject tests for admission or placement.


The ACT evaluates English, math, reading and science reasoning. The English test has 75 writing and reading questions to assess punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure, strategy, organization and style. The ACT Plus includes a writing test.

The 60-question math test covers pre-algebra, elementary and intermediate algebra, coordinate and plane geometry, and trigonometry.

The 40-question reading test measures reading comprehension. Reading passages cover social studies, the natural sciences, prose fiction and the humanities.

The 40-question science test measures problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences, including skills in biology, chemistry, physics and the earth/space sciences. The test takes about four hours.

The national average score on the ACT is 21; the highest possible score is 36. The ACT costs $35. The ACT Plus is $50. You should request that scores be sent to colleges of your choosing. You can register on the web or pick up an ACT packet, which includes a registration form, at your high school or a local college. For more information or to request a registration packet, call 319-337-1270.

CLEP tests

College-Level Examination Program exams may allow students to “place out” of certain required courses in college by giving them credit for their existing knowledge. Anyone can take any of the 33 CLEP exams, which are usually taken on college campuses for $80. Students who pass an exam do not have to take the corresponding college course. Check with the college you plan to enter before taking any CLEP exam. You can find more information about the program at the College Board website or call 800-257-9558.

Advanced Placement (AP) tests

The Advanced Placement Program consists of 30 college-level courses and exams for highly motivated students in secondary schools. Students take the courses and the exams at their high schools, and those who pass the exams can receive academic course credit in those subjects when they enroll in college. Check with your high school to see if it offers AP courses in cooperation with the College Board.

Each test costs $89. Ask your high school counselor about the program, check the College Board site or call 609-771-7300 or 888-225-5427.

Download Resources

Download a PDF containing the essential information on getting ready for college. It includes a college comparison charge and a timetable of what needs to get done.