Summer is in full swing. After a school year full of homework, studying, and extracurriculars, students finally have a little bit of time to breathe and unwind – which makes this a perfect time for rising juniors and seniors to get ahead on test prep!
If you are planning to take the SAT or ACT for your college applications (and current trends in college admissions suggest that a good score on these tests is still considered a major asset even at test-optional schools), there is no better time to get started than right now. When it comes to learning almost any new skill, getting started is the most intellectually tiring part. Test prep is no different. If you can give your preparation the attention it deserves, you’ll be able to lay a strong foundation in your first few sessions that will be critical for everything that comes after. Beginning prep in the summer means you have a chance to devote more attention to these first sessions without worrying about homework and academic priorities. It can set you up for success, even if you need to continue preparing into the school year.
For Rising Juniors
The summer before junior year is absolutely perfect for test prep. Junior year is considered the ideal time to take the SAT or ACT, but it is also widely considered to be the most rigorous year academically. Students are more likely taking higher loads of AP or honors courses, and they may be finishing up requirements in subjects they are less enthusiastic about. If you wait until school is at full tilt to begin prepping, you’ll be adding extra pressure at a time when you probably don’t need it. Getting started now lets you lay the foundation, allowing you to do basic maintenance and refine your test-taking technique during the school year. And the sooner you take your first official test, the more information you have to target your prep and direct your practice!
For Rising Seniors
Compared with junior year, senior year is generally less academically demanding, since you’re more likely to be taking electives and digging into your interests. You want to have your senior year as free as possible, and getting things like test prep out of the way as early as possible eases the pressure. Plus, college applications should be finished by mid-year. If you are planning to include a test score, you’ll need to sit for the October ACT or November SAT to ensure there’s plenty of time to get your scores back before application deadlines start hitting in December and January. And since scores almost always go up when you take the test a second time (especially if you review and prepare before the second test!), you’ll want to have at least one SAT or ACT under your belt before those fall tests arrive.
How to Use Your Previous Score Reports
If you have already taken an official test and have your results, you’re ahead of the game! Your score report can give you an idea of where you want to start.
The best time to begin preparing for standardized tests is always “now,” and the freedom and flexibility of summer schedules makes this more true than ever. If you’d like more information, schedule a complimentary consultation with a test prep expert who can help you make a long term plan, and get ahead of next year's stress.