High school sophomores are in a great position to make the most of the college admissions process.
Now that the transition to high school is over, sophomores can be involved with those extra-curricular activities that matter to them, develop relationships with teachers just because, and use the summers to explore their own interests. Sophomore year is also a great time to plan for testing, either the ACT or SAT.
Will you score higher on the SAT or ACT?
If you know the answer to this question, then you’re already ahead of the class. Whichever test yields your higher score is the one to focus on in the upcoming months.
If you don’t know which test you will score higher on, then you have a couple of options. One, you can take an SAT/ACT Comparison test. Students can take a comparison test themselves to get an idea of their score for each test. I suggest that students simulate the testing setting as much as possible by taking the test in a quiet space on a Saturday morning, using a timer to stick close to the timings for each section. When the comparison test is scored, the student gets feedback on whether the SAT or ACT is their higher score and tips on improving their score.
Another way to find out if the SAT or ACT is your better test is to compare scores from a practice SAT and practice ACT. Some high schools may even offer a PSAT and a pre- ACT during sophomore year. The scores from each test can be compared through this concordance table.
Set testing plan for Junior year
For 2017-18, both SAT and ACT are adding a summer testing date. I would suggest that seniors take advantage of these testing dates for college applications and scholarships. However, juniors may want to use the fall to start any test prep and schedule their tests during the academic year.
Test prep can be done using a book, online self-study or class, live class or private tutor (in person or online). Six to eight weeks of test prep is plenty of time. The key thing you want to remember with test prep is to do it consistently. For example, if you have a fall sport, then perhaps your best time to study is after the season ends since it may be difficult to study for the SAT or ACT along with having practices and games after school. Test prep can end about a week before your testing date.
In junior year, it’s best to allow for 2 testing dates in case a student wants to retake for a higher score. Taking 3 or more ACT or SAT shows a poor use of time and judgment. Beware that some colleges even penalize applicants who have multiple standardized test so please limit the test-taking. (The only time I recommend additional test-taking is for seniors who have selected a college that requires a certain score for scholarship purposes.)
What are your testing plans for junior year?