With summer just about here in South Florida, we at Score At The Top have already started working with students to help them recover last year’s courses or get a head start on next year’s core schedule. And because late summer and early fall test dates are just around the corner, we’ve also opened enrollment for our summer SAT and ACT workshops! The relatively relaxed summer months are a great time to prepare. Below, you’ll find some of our tips for testing plans and for academic preparation at all grade levels to help you take advantage of the summer break.
For seniors, this summer marks the final time to squeeze in those activities that will likely appear on your college applications – and to actually begin those applications! At this point, most students have taken at least one SAT or ACT, but now is the time to plan for any remaining tests. ACT offers dates in July, September, November, and December. The SAT is offered in August, October, November, and December. Students applying to colleges with early deadlines of November 1 (or sooner) must finish testing by October at the latest, although some schools will wait on November test scores. Check each college’s admissions website for all application requirements and deadlines. If you need to take a late summer/early fall test, now is the time to prep. A good rule of thumb: plan for 8-12 weeks of practice leading up to a test date. For the upcoming July exam, it’s still possible to cram in review time. Plan on working through one practice test each week to both reinforce academic skills and practice test-taking strategies. Seniors with later deadlines may also wish to take tests in November or December, keeping the same preparation timeframe in mind. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program will accept scores as late as June of senior year.
It never hurts to start testing early! For many juniors, taking the SAT and ACT in the first semester reduces stress, thanks to an earlier start and more opportunities to retake these tests until target scores are achieved. The same tips apply to juniors as to seniors: prepare for these tests, whether with an instructor or by yourself (but only if you’re highly motivated), and you’ll want to give yourself enough time to become proficient at all skills tested. Juniors who have completed Algebra II should be prepared for SAT and ACT math. Taking Algebra II your junior year? Then you may wish to wait until the winter in order to have a semester’s worth of study under your belt. We like the August SAT for rising juniors who have most of the summer to prepare, and the December ACT because it’s the first test date of the school year for which you can get back a copy of the test you took, your answers, and the correct answers – a great learning tool that’s available only three times/year. It’s called the Test Information Release. The SAT offers something similar in October (Question & Answer Service), but that’s when juniors should be taking their PSAT – unless they feel ultra-prepared to take both the PSAT and SAT in October.
Freshmen and Sophomores
Nearly all younger high school students will take a fall PSAT, and some school districts offer an in-school PreACT. Although preparing for these tests isn’t always necessary, the summer is a great time to brush up on academic skills you’ll need on these tests. Familiarize yourself with basic grammar rules; make sure you’re reading outside of the classroom. Review your math skills, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, knowing that you’ll see a lot of algebra and some geometry on the tests. Are you comfortable reading and interpreting graphs, tables, and other visual text? Both the ACT and SAT ask you to apply these skills, and not only on the math section.
If you’re a senior eager to score better on the ACT or SAT in time for college applications, or if you’re a junior ready to jumpstart your college testing plan, contact us! We have small-group test prep workshops running throughout the summer and into the fall. Additionally, we offer 1:1 sessions with our experienced test prep tutors who can meet you at your convenience. For our younger students (and older ones, too!), we’re offering our summer refresh, review, and enrichment classes to reinforce academic skills needed both in the classroom and on standardized exams. Let our experienced tutors and learning center staff help you take advantage of the summer by preparing for the fall – today!