It’s tough being a high school junior! I have heard from so many juniors that the academic work load is more intensive. In junior year, students typically take on more honors or advanced placement (AP) which certainly adds rigor and greater homework loads.
In addition to these academic demands, the college admissions process begins in earnest during junior year, whether students are ready or not. For my clients, junior year is focused on developing a meaningful college list, nurturing teacher relationships, and planning for standardized tests.
The biggest myth that I want to dispel right now is that students do NOT have to take both the ACT and the SAT. The tests are quite different. Taking both tests compromises your test prep and ultimately wastes a lot of time and money.
If students want to get their best score, they should take the test that fits them. How do you which test is best for you? Here are 3 ways that students can determine whether to take the ACT or SAT:
- Compare their PLAN and PSAT score reports
- Take an ACT/SAT Comparison Test, like the one we give to our client families (link)
- Take a simulated practice test for both the ACT and SAT, then compare the results
After determining which test makes sense for you, then it’s time to register for the test date, begin a solid test prep plan, then take the test!
I strongly encourage juniors to consider taking their first ACT or SAT in the winter of junior year. Here’s why:
- By winter, students would have had time to adjust to their academic schedules and homework loads.
- Taking the test in winter, allows enough time to get your scores, determine if you want to retake, do additional test prep in key area(s), then retake the test in the spring
- Students can typically get a full score report when they test during the Fall and Winter dates. The full score reports can be very helpful for studying if a student wants to retake the test.
- If a student decides to take an SAT II Subject Test, then they can do so at the end of the school year, while much of the content is still fresh.
When I suggest this testing plan, I always get some push-back. Parents and students will usually ask, “What about taking the test in senior year?” All I can say from experience is that the Fall of senior year in high school is extremely busy. With school demands, sports activities, social events, and applying to colleges, NO senior wants to be bothered with taking standardized tests.
When are you planning to take your ACT or SAT?