So you took the PSATs this past week. For many of you, sophomores and juniors alike, that began your foray into the wonderful world of high-stakes (college entrance exam) testing. That’s the bad news. The good news is that sophomores have a really long break before the next one (PLAN and/or Subject Tests next spring) and juniors get a little break in the otherwise nonstop bombardment that is the junior year in American high school.
As far as standardized testing goes, the vast majority of juniors don’t sit for another exam until January (SATs) or February (ACTs). Some may choose to take the December ACT so that after returning from winter vacation, they’ll have one official score from the CollegeBoard (PSAT) and one from the ACT, Inc.
At CollegePrepExpress, we advise most students to start with the SATs in January, and then alternate ACTs and SATs every month through June. (Click here for a complete 2011-2012 calendar of both SATs and ACTs.) That’s SIX college admissions tests in six months, six darts to throw at the board, looking for that single bull’s-eye. Again, that’s the bad news. The good news is that you get to stop testing as soon as you put up a good enough number. (See Standardized Test Planning blog.)
The other good news is that for the rest of October and November (PSAT results will arrive mid-December), you should focus on your schoolwork! At CollegePrepExpress we do recommend keeping up with your vocab studying using Quizlet (see Quizlet blog). But other than that, do yourself a favor by taking a break from your daily routine of alternating test practice and studying and focus instead on getting the best grades you can in school. Remember, no matter how high your SAT and ACT scores go, the FIRST THING admissions committee members will look at is YOUR TRANSCRIPT. Work on that while the CollegeBoard tabulates your PSATs.