The college application process is long, arduous and stressful for children as well as parents. Standardized testing (SAT/ACT) is required by most colleges & universities in the United States, and can often be the most strenuous part of the application. As parents, in addition to being a source of support for your child, it is important to provide guidance and structure throughout the process. And when it comes to the SAT/ACT, a clear test-taking plan agreed upon between you and your child can take a lot of the anxiety and stress out of the process. Listed below are some tips that can hopefully guide this plan.
Your child should focus on mastering the key concepts and fundamentals that will be tested on both the SAT and ACT. Mastery of the topics covered in the high school classroom will make SAT/ACT preparation easier in later years. If there are any topics in school that your child is struggling with, make sure you get the help needed to address those weaknesses while the learnings are still fresh.
Sit down with your child to create a test-taking plan. This test-taking plan should address the following:
- Will your child be taking the SAT, ACT, or both? (The SAT is changing. Read this to understand the changes)
- Which test dates work best for your child?
- How will test-prep fit into your child’s academic, extra-curricular, and familial commitments?
- What will the test-prep method be?
- When will test-prep begin?
(We recommend beginning test prep over the summer after 10th grade)
Your child might take the PSAT for the first time in grade 10. If the test is offered at your child’s school, we highly encourage that they take the test. It serves as a good reminder that the college application process is right around the corner. Don’t worry, the 10th grade PSAT results are just benchmarks, they don’t count towards the National Merit Scholarship etc.
In order to have more time for the college application process, the majority of standardized testing should be completed during 11th grade. Your child will take the PSAT in October of their Junior year. For students in the United States, these results will determine their eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship. PSAT scores will be released to the school counselors in December. Click here to understand your child’s PSAT scores.
- October – PSAT
- December – PSAT scores released
- January/March – 1st SAT attempt
- February/April – 1st ACT Attempt
- May/June – 2nd SAT attempt
Rising seniors who have not gotten their target SAT score should use the summer to study. Seniors can then plan to take the SAT for the last time in October. The ACT should be attempted for the second time in September.
Seniors should complete their standardized testing earlier on, so that they can focus on having a strong finish to their high school academic career. This will also allow them to dedicate the necessary resources to submit their very best attempt a compelling college application.
Have more specific questions about your child’s test-prep plan? Contact us to schedule you personal TestRocker consultation.
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Five questions to ask when selecting a test prep method