A Glossary of Important Terms You Need To Know for College and Private School Admission

Terms for Tests:

AP: AP stands for Advanced Placement. The letters can represent both the course and the test that is taken by students in May. If your school offers AP and if you are applying to top colleges, you must take AP courses and do extremely well on the exams. The exams are scored on a scale of 1-5. Many colleges give college credit for scores of five. Some give credit for fours and fives, and other give credit for scores of three and higher. Some, such as Harvard, only give college credit for scores of five. Only Brown and Dartmouth do not give any college credit for AP tests.

IB: IB stands for International Baccalaureate. Like AP, these are college-level courses but are even more intense than AP courses.

SAT: Over the years, the iconic letters SAT have stood for: Scholastic Achievement Test, Scholastic Assessment Test, and Scholastic Aptitude Test. Now, the letters SAT stand for nothing; they are merely a trademark. High SAT scores are critically important for admission into virtually all colleges. Even colleges that do not require SAT scores will accept them, meaning that high scores will help you gain admission into virtually every college in America.

ACT: ACT stands for American College Testing. This year marks its 60th anniversary. Over that time, it has steadily caught up to, and finally surpassed, the SAT as the most popular college entrance exam in the world. Certain elements are similar to the SAT, but many are different, such as the Science Section. The ACT is a great option for some students and not an option for others.

TASCA: TASCA is NC Global’s ACT/SAT comparison test that can be taken at NC Global’s center or at your school. Please ask your school to contact NC Global to see if it might be available there. 

ISEE: ISEE stands for Independent School Entrance Exam. It is taken by students who want to attend private school, typically up to grade 8.

SSAT: SSAT stands for Secondary School Admission Test. It is taken by students who want to attend private school, between grades nine and 12.

CSS: CSS (or Snapshot) stands for Character Skills Snapshot, a relatively new component introduced by SSAT.  it is accessed through the SSAT website. Many private schools now require or suggest that students take this exam, which purportedly measures a student’s character. 

TOEFL: TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is required by most colleges and private high schools for non-native English speakers. There is a version available for grade school and middle school students called the TOEFL Junior.

Terms for College Admission

ED: ED stands for Early Decision. Early Decision is a binding commitment, which means that if students are accepted to a particular school under the Early Decision plan, they must attend that school. Exceptions are only made in cases where other schools offer better financial aid packages.

EA: EA stands for Early Action. Early Action allows students to apply the college early and to get the college’s decision early. Unlike EA, it is a nonbinding program meaning that students can choose to go to school Where they accepted EA, or to go anywhere else they would like.

REA: REA stands for Restrictive Early Action. Under the Restrictive Early Action program, students may only apply to one private college using the REA designation. However, the decision is nonbinding. Students electing to use REA are allowed to apply to public schools, such as the University of California schools.

Common App: Common App is short for Common Application. It is the application that most students choose for most colleges in the country. Notable colleges that do not use the Common App include the University of California system, Georgetown, and MIT. 

Terms for Private School Admission

Gateway: Gateway is short for the application system called Gateway to Prep Schools. It is the most common application used by private schools in the country.

Ravenna: Ravenna is another application system used by some private schools.

CAO: CAO stands for Common Application Online. It is located on the SSAT website and is operated by the SSAT organization. This is also where you will find the Character Skills Snapshot

If you would like help understanding these terms, the test preparation process, the private school admission process, or the college admission process, call NC Global at 800-469-1028 or at our Chinese line: 833-888-6232.  You may also check our website: www.ncglobaledu.com.  

Neil Chyten 

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