Before starting to study specific test-taking strategies, be sure to brush up on content. Review math, vocabulary and grammar.
Testing, Testing, 1-2-3
PSAT, SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, AP tests, IB tests, driving tests... High school juniors get tested at every turn. On top of that, colleges are saying this is the most important year, grade-wise. And, by the way, you are captain of your sports team, aren't you?
The pressure junior year is intense. There isn't any getting around that. But, by strategically planning when and how to test, it is possible to take the pressure off.
I met with one of my junior families a few days ago (mid-March, as I write this), and I commented on how well they were managing the test cycle. The mother said, “We followed your advice and started early. I can’t thank you enough for helping to take the stress out of this crazy year.”
Her daughter took the SAT in January and scored high enough to meet her goals. And, she now has SAT scores to help her identify reach, match and target schools. By prepping for the SAT over the summer and fall, she was able to take the SAT once and be done.
People always ask, “What’s the best way to prep for the SAT?” The answer is...it depends!
And the answer is the same when it comes to “Should I take the SAT or ACT?” Again, it depends!
When I talk to students, I help them sort through the various testing prep options and figure out what will work best for them. Test prep can be expensive (although a motivated student can study on his or her own quite well), and you want to make the most of your time and money.
Here are a few tips and definitions to get you started:
PSAT – taken in October of junior year. It is used to identify National Merit Scholar candidates. High achieving students will want to start prepping for the SAT in the summer before junior year in order to do their best on the PSAT.
SAT vs. ACT – colleges don’t care which one you take. It can be very useful to take a practice test under timed, test conditions for each one before deciding which one to focus on. Very elite schools will want to see the SAT with Subject Tests or the ACT with Writing. You don’t need both the SAT and ACT.
SAT Subject Tests – Many selective schools will either require or recommend (read require) 2 subject tests. These can be waived if the student does the ACT with writing. In an ideal world, students will take subject tests in May or June of junior year, when the material from that year’s classes is fresh. For instance, if the student is taking AP U.S. History, then it makes sense to sign up for subject tests in June of that year, since he is already studying for the AP exam. Up to 3 subject tests can be taken in one sitting, each test is one hour long. Colleges often like to see a math or science and a humanities test. An important tip: be sure to study for the subject tests. Most students take them cold and this is one area where some studying can really pay off. I highly recommend using the Official SAT Subject Test material available online at the College Board http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-subject-test-preparation
or in paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Official-Study-Guide-Subject-Tests/dp/0874479754/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395851731&sr=1-1&keywords=sat+subject+test
Student Guide to Subject Tests: collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/sat-subject-tests-student-guide.pdf
List of Subject Tests:
apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse There is a lot of overlap in the AP exams and Subject Tests so it makes sense to prep for the AP exams in May and then take the corresponding Subject Test in June.