“The truth can hurt you it’s just like the dark it’ll scare you witless but in time you see things clear and stark.” – Elvis Costello
Everybody knows junior year is the hardest working year of high school. And, alas, the stark reality is the hardest part of it is the final stretch. Cumulative tests, big papers, final projects, and (gulp) final exams all conspire to make the last two to three months challenging to sleep, serenity, even sanity. Oh yeah, and then throw standardized testing—SATs ACTs, Subject Tests, and, in some cases, AP exams—into the already unmanageable mix. Thanks, adult world, for sending such a warm and fuzzy welcoming committee.
As a result of this ridiculous onslaught of to-do’s between April and June, many juniors do only a halfhearted job, or no job at all, on their standardized test preparation in the spring. What they tell themselves, either consciously or unconsciously, is that they’ll take the SATs and ACTs this spring, but not invest much time studying or practicing, figuring they can always retake them in the fall. While they can retake them in the fall, a much better plan is to try to FINISH TESTING IN THE JUNIOR YEAR. Why? Because the huge pot of gold waiting at the end of the college-entrance-exam rainbow is well worth the extra effort.
First, imagine how much better your summer will be if you know that you don’t have to retake SATs or ACTs in the fall. Admit it, that made you smile, even if only on the inside. Next, think about how much more time you’ll have to spend over the summer or early fall writing the best applications you can without having the burden of studying, again, for these tests. Next, consider how much extra time you’ll have in the fall to visit colleges on your short list and spend overnights and even three-day weekends knowing that you don’t have to rush home to study for or take a standardized test. Finally, think about how much more you’ll enjoy being a senior if you don’t have to spend every spare minute in September, October, and November with your nose in a CollegeBoard or AzCT book!
I don’t pretend for a second that what I am proposing is an easy task: Carving out 45 min to an hour a day between now and your last standardized test is a lot to ask! But what I am proposing is a short-term sacrifice for a longer-term gain. Look at it this way: if you’re a junior, the next couple of months are going to be a grind whether or not you invest quality time in standardized test prep. It’s not like if you choose not to study for your college entrance exams this spring, you’re going to be having a party between now and June. I say, man up, woman up, and make a grown-up decision that you’ll look back on with pride: Make a hard-working couple of months just a little bit more hard-working, and then enjoy the heck out of your summer and fall. You’ll be really glad you did. And, of course, we’re here to help you manage your schoolwork down the homestretch as well as prep for your SATs, ACTs, Subject Tests and AP exams.
(It’s not too late to register for the SATs or ACTs in May and June; see our Tests page for all the dates and deadlines. And you may want to visit our Classes page and register for one of our high-powered Prep Classes, available in person and ONLINE. And if you’re taking the 4/13 ACTs, be sure to tune into our live “Prep Talk” with CPE show on 4/2: Beating the ACT.)