The ICFES exam, currently Saber 11, is a standardized test similar to the SAT in the United States. The test is administered prior to graduation in Colombian high schools final year, 11th or 12th. It can be taken as many times as a student sees fit. The test is thoroughly developed and published by the ICFES. The exam, evaluates five subjects; Critical Reading, Math, Social Studies, Science and English. Each subject mostly consist of several multiple option questions with four possible answers and between one and three open questions, except English which has no open questions and the multiple option questions can have between three and eight possible answers. The ICFES exam qualifies between 1 and 500, and each subject between 1 and 100.
Although the ICFES provides several tests for different academic purposes, the ICFES test is nationally recognized as the most important test since it qualifies students according to their actual academic skills and therefore it can affect the possibilities that a student might have to be accepted in Public and Private Colleges.
This test does not apply to Universidad Nacional de Colombia, one of Colombia's main public colleges, because it administers its own test; however, the Universidad Nacional requests the applicants to take test, without regarding the result, in order to consider the application.
The test was originally created in 1966 when the Colombian Association of Universities and the University Fund signed the Agreement number 65. This agreement was reached after a research made by the Colombian Government and members of Colombian Universities.
The test is an intensive one. It is split in two sessions, each one of four hours and thirty minutes. ICFES assigns the schools and schedules throughout the Colombian territory so most of the student body is able to reach nearby schools where to take the test. The organization and logistics related to the test is totally managed by ICFES and different contracts with companies that transport valuables as a way to make the test safely delivered to the students and preventing fraudulent results or illegal copying.
The ICFES is available twice in a year, and students chooce at what time they will take it according to the month they are graduating, that can be either in June or December. Usually students that are graduating on June take the exam on March and those who are graduating on December take it on August. The day of the exam is always a Sunday and it is divided by two sections. During each section students are allowed to go to the restroom once and they have four hours to finish it, and as soon as a student is done, that student can leave the room as long as, more than two hours and a half had passed since the section started.