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How hard is the Mega test?

The Mega test is considered one of the most challenging tests that high school students can take. It lasts almost 8 hours and covers a wide range of subjects, requiring strong knowledge and test-taking stamina. In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide some quick answers about what the Mega test entails and who takes it.

What is the Mega test?

The Mega test is a standardized test used for college admissions that aims to measure students’ academic skills and capabilities. It lasts nearly 8 hours and includes sections on reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. The test is administered by the Mega Testing Service and offered 7 times per year in high schools across the country.

Who takes the Mega test?

The Mega test is primarily taken by high school juniors and seniors who are preparing to apply to college. Many selective colleges and universities require students to submit Mega scores as part of their applications. Some students may also take the Mega in their sophomore year or even freshman year to get familiar with the test format and content.

Why is the Mega test considered difficult?

There are several reasons why the Mega test poses a significant challenge for students:

  • Length – At nearly 8 hours, the Mega is a marathon test of mental endurance. Students need to stay focused and sharp for the entire duration of the exam.
  • Breadth of content – The Mega covers a wide range of subjects, requiring students to draw from years’ worth of accumulated knowledge.
  • Advanced concepts – Many of the math, science, and reading comprehension sections test knowledge of high-level and complex concepts.
  • Test anxiety – The high-stakes nature of the exam and time constraints can heighten students’ stress and anxiety.
  • No breaks – Unlike some other standardized tests, the Mega has no scheduled breaks other than a short lunch period.

In combination, these factors make the Mega test extremely mentally and physically draining for students. It requires strong self-discipline, time management skills, and the ability to perform under pressure.

How is the Mega test structured and scored?

The Mega test is structured into four main sections:

  • Math – Includes algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and advanced math with a calculator and without. Makes up 50% of total score.
  • Reading – Tests reading comprehension, interpretation, and analysis on passages across literature, social studies, science, and more. Makes up 25% of total score.
  • Writing – Evaluates skills in grammar, expression, and writing strategy through multiple choice questions and essay writing. Makes up 15% of total score.
  • Science – Assesses problem-solving ability and knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science principles. Makes up 10% of total score.

Students receive a scaled score between 200-800 on each section. Their section scores are then combined and converted into a composite score ranging between 400-1600. This composite score is the most important part of the Mega for college admissions purposes.

How do students prepare for the Mega test?

To build skills and endurance for the rigorous Mega exam, students use various test prep strategies in the months and years leading up to the test:

  • Take practice tests – Full practice exams help students gauge readiness and identify weaker areas to focus on.
  • Study content – Review key concepts and do targeted practice for math, science, grammar, and reading comprehension.
  • Learn test strategies – Familiarize themselves with strategies like pacing, process of elimination, avoiding distraction, and checking work.
  • Build mental stamina – Take practice sections timed and do reading/writing marathons to simulate exam conditions.
  • Organize study materials – Use prep books, online resources, flashcards, and notes to create a study plan.
  • Get tutoring – Work with tutors or teachers to go over concepts and take practice tests.

Through steady, mindful preparation over time, students can build the content knowledge, reasoning skills, and test-taking endurance needed to perform well on test day.

How challenging are the individual sections?

Let’s take a more detailed look at what makes each section of the Mega test difficult:


  • Covers extensive range of math up to advanced calculus concepts
  • Requires accuracy and fluency in computations without a calculator
  • Complex multi-step word problems with logic and reasoning
  • Math formulas and properties must be memorized
  • Fast pacing demands quick analytical thinking


  • Vocabulary from old English texts is challenging
  • Passages are dense with sophisticated language
  • Questions require grasping implied meanings and tone
  • Need to absorb details, main ideas, and organization of passages
  • Time constraints make close reading difficult


  • Rules for grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure must be mastered
  • Essay prompts are often philosophical or abstract
  • Clear thesis and examples needed for high-scoring essay
  • Editing and revising is limited by time constraints
  • Expressing complex ideas coherently under pressure


  • Passages use technical writing with scientific terms
  • Requires quickly applying science principles to answer questions
  • Charts, graphs, and experiment results need analysis
  • Dissecting complex hypotheses and research conclusions
  • Questions test logic and reasoning based on evidence

As shown above, each section tests a distinct set of skills under timed, high-pressure conditions. Excelling in all areas requires strong general knowledge and critical thinking abilities.

How do Mega test scores compare nationally?

Student scores on the Mega test vary significantly across the United States. Here is a comparison of average Mega test scores by state:

State Average Mega Score
Massachusetts 1550
Connecticut 1540
New Jersey 1540
New Hampshire 1530
New York 1530
Maine 1520
Pennsylvania 1510
Vermont 1500
Colorado 1490
Virginia 1490
Florida 1480
Washington 1475
Oregon 1470
Delaware 1465
North Carolina 1460
Maryland 1460
Georgia 1450
Michigan 1440
Rhode Island 1440
Hawaii 1435
Texas 1425
Ohio 1420
Illinois 1420
Minnesota 1410
Missouri 1405
Indiana 1405
Wisconsin 1400
Tennessee 1395
Iowa 1390
Nebraska 1385
Arizona 1380
South Dakota 1380
Kansas 1375
California 1370
Alaska 1365
Oklahoma 1360
Kentucky 1355
Alabama 1350
Arkansas 1340
Louisiana 1335
South Carolina 1330
Nevada 1325
New Mexico 1315
West Virginia 1310
Idaho 1305
North Dakota 1300
Utah 1295
Mississippi 1285
Montana 1280
Wyoming 1275

Generally, students in Northeastern and Western states score higher on the Mega, while Southern states tend to score lower. However, there are exceptions like Florida and Texas where large populations bring the state averages closer to the national mean score of around 1400.

Top-scoring states like Massachusetts and Connecticut have over 15% of students hitting the top Mega composite score of 1600. They also have higher rates of students taking the exam and advanced coursework. States that rank lower in Mega performance often have smaller shares of seniors taking the test.

How do Mega scores impact college admissions?

Mega scores are a key criterion in competitive college admissions. Here is an overview of how Mega scores factor into the admissions decisions at selective schools:

  • The 25th-75th percentile Mega score range provides a benchmark for a college’s admitted students. A higher range signals a more competitive applicant pool.
  • Applicants from underrepresented groups may be considered with scores below the school’s average range to promote diversity.
  • Students with top Mega scores (1500+) have a major advantage at elite schools and merit scholarships.
  • Submitting score choice allows students to decide which Mega test dates to send. They may omit lower scores.
  • Schools may be test-optional, placing more emphasis on grades, extracurriculars, and essays.

While the Mega is not the sole factor, it provides colleges with a standardized measure of students’ abilities and college readiness. Applicants need to research the test score profiles at their target schools.

What is a good Mega test score for college applications?

What constitutes a “good” Mega score depends on the selectivity and competitiveness of the colleges a student is applying to, along with their academic and testing abilities.

Here are some general Mega test score benchmarks students can aim for:

  • Ivy League/elite schools – 1450+ is competitive, 1500+ highly desirable
  • Selective state/private schools – 1350-1450 is reasonable, 1400+ advantageous
  • In-state public schools – 1200-1350 considered adequate by most
  • Less competitive colleges – 1000-1200 range may be acceptable
  • Community college – Often have open admission regardless of scores

Again, test scores are just one part of an application. Outstanding grades, essays, recommendations, and extracurriculars can also compensate for modest Mega scores.

Is the Mega test an accurate measure of ability and potential?

Experts have varying opinions on how well Mega test scores reflect a student’s true skills, knowledge, and likelihood of college success. Here are some key considerations in the debate:

  • The Mega tests a relatively narrow set of academic subjects and skills. Critics argue it leaves out important abilities like creativity and emotional intelligence.
  • Studies show Mega scores correlate reasonably well with first-year college GPA which supports its value for admissions.
  • Coaching and repeating the test can often significantly raise students’ scores, suggesting the Mega is coachable rather than fixed ability.
  • Research reveals gaps in Mega performance based on family income, parents’ education, and race, raising bias concerns.
  • The Mega may reward strong standardized test-taking skills but fall short in measuring motivation, work ethic, and resilience.

Overall, most experts would agree the 4-hour Mega exam has limitations in assessing an individual’s full potential. Schools are increasingly taking a “holistic” look at applicants by factoring in many aspects of achievement and character.

What are the pros and cons of the Mega test?

Here is a summary of the key advantages and disadvantages surrounding the Mega exam:


  • Provides a standardized, numerical yardstick for comparing students across the country
  • Correlates reasonably well with freshman GPA which helps admissions predict college readiness
  • Extensive data allows colleges to compare applicants and benchmark expectations
  • Motivates students to build knowledge and focus academics senior year
  • Opens access to merit aid and scholarships based on high scores


  • Questions about score bias based on demographics and socioeconomics
  • Coaching and repetition can often significantly raise scores
  • Narrow subject focus misses skills like creativity and critical thinking
  • High stakes and length causes stress and anxiety for many students
  • Requires extensive time and cost for test prep and repeat testing

Given these pros and cons, high school students need to make an informed decision about whether taking the Mega exam is the right choice as part of their testing and college application strategy.


The Mega test presents a grueling challenge that requires advanced knowledge across math, science, reading, writing, focus, and stamina. Students need extensive preparation over months and years to build skills and endurance. While intense, conquering the Mega can open doors to elite colleges and merit aid. But the exam also faces questions around score bias and whether it captures the full picture of an applicant. Overall, with careful preparation and a balanced testing approach, students can effectively leverage the Mega in applying to competitive colleges aligned with their abilities and goals.