By now, many of you have gotten back your PSAT scores. Please be sure to call us with your PSAT score breakdown (Reading, Math, and Writing scores).
This is the time when you should be planning your testing calendars for the spring semester. Even if we've already met with you to discuss testing dates, and I’d like to reinforce that with an overview of an effective testing calendar, so read on...
I firmly believe that all students should try the SAT and ACT with Writing once to determine which is the better test for them. However, if you already know which one is your better test, it’s fine to focus on just that test for now.
Remember that some colleges ask you to send ALL your SAT scores and others allow you to select the score sets you’d like them to see. While virtually all colleges superscore the SAT, combining your best Reading, Math, Writing, and Essay scores from all the tests you’ve taken in high school, they will still see the lower scores you submit, which can have a negative impact on an admission decision – so you’ll want to be prepared for the SAT. More on that below.
For the ACT, most colleges request your single best ACT score set. However, there are a small handful that ask for all your ACT scores, and a small, but growing number that superscore the ACT. So while the ACT is more of a “risk-free” test, you will still want to be prepared for it.
- If you are happy with your PSAT scores, register NOW for the January 25* SAT.
- If you’re not happy with your PSAT scores, register for the March 8 or May 3* SAT, depending on which date works better for your schedule. (Note that the May date is immediately before AP exams, but it is one of the three testing dates for which you can get back a copy of the test you took, your answers, and the right answers, and, thus, learn from your mistakes.)
- You can re-take the SAT on June 7 – and again in October*, November, and/or December of your senior year for almost all colleges! (The only exception is the University of Florida, which prefers that you finish your testing as a junior.)
- If you prefer the ACT because you feel you can do better on it, then temporarily skip the SAT, pending your results on the ACT.
- Register NOW for the February 8 ACT with Writing.
- You can re-test on April 12* and/or June 14* if you need to improve your score.
* For these test dates, you can obtain a copy of the test you took, the correct answers, and your answers – a great diagnostic tool to help you learn from your mistakes. At the end of your online registration process for the SAT or ACT, request and pay for the Question & Answer Service (SAT at www.Collegeboard.org) or the Test Information Release (ACT at www.ACTStudent.org).
SAT SUBJECT TESTS:
- Now is the time to check with colleges about their testing requirements for next year so you’ll know if these tests are required or recommended for your application. Typically, only the most selective colleges require or recommend these tests. Take them only if they are required/recommended or if you feel that you can show off with top scores!
- The best time to take Subject Tests is on June 7, which is the first testing opportunity after AP and IB exams. Thus, the studying you do for the AP/IB exams will help you get ready for the SAT Subject Tests. You may take up to three of these 1-hour multiple-choice tests in one sitting – but not on the same date as you take the SAT.
- If you have finished a course in pre-calculus, you can take the SAT Subject Test in Math (Level I or Level II) in January to get it over with, assuming that you need this test.
- You may take SAT Subject Tests as late as December of your senior year.
Don’t take the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests without preparation. As I’ve noted above, many colleges will request more than just your best SAT or ACT scores, and you don’t want substantially lower scores to have a negative influence on admission decisions.
While we hope you will consider private or small group test prep with Score At The Top, there are many fine providers from which to choose. Just make sure that your provider:
- makes exclusive use of real tests, not ones they have created themselves
- focuses on content as well as strategy, using proven test-taking strategies to improve your score
- includes several opportunities for timed and proctored test simulations
- is actually fun to work with!
Research has shown that it takes at least 40 hours of effective test prep to significantly improve your score – so NOW is the time to start weekly private lessons or small-group workshops.
If you’d like to arrange private lessons or one of our small-group workshops, just call your local Score At The Top Learning Center. Don’t hesitate to call or email me to discuss any of this further.
And if you’d like help planning for college, we have awesome resources: our founding owner, Judi Robinovitz, who has visited and has firsthand knowledge about hundreds of colleges, can identify the colleges that are the best matches for you. And our essay experts can help you brainstorm and write your college application essays.