Write a generic admissions essay, visit some campuses, develop a preliminary college list—these are just some of the things students can do now to make senior year a little less stressful.
As a college consultant, I realize that this time in their lives is typically jam-packed. Not only is it important for students to keep their grades up for their transcripts, but they should also be actively involved in a handful of meaningful school and community activities for their student resume…and all of this is in addition to the hours upon hours they’ll spend on college planning.
And of course, one major piece of the college planning process is the SAT/ACT. By now, most seniors have taken SATs and ACTs at least once, but for those who plan to retake a test in the fall semester, they should make preparations now. The summer months can be a great time to study and to sign up for a test prep course in the fall.
Seniors, though, aren’t the only ones who should be making test preparations. It’s important for all high school students who are considering college to put some thought into choosing a test date that works best for them.
An article in U.S. News outlined four factors to consider when choosing a test date. Check out these suggestions as detailed in the article:
“1. College application deadlines: First, determine your application deadlines. If you have not compiled a list of colleges to which you will apply, investigate several programs that interest you. Harvard University, for example, requires you to submit your application by Nov. 1 for early action, while regular decision packages are due by Jan. 1.
When scheduling your exam date, remember that your scores will not be immediately available. The Stanford University admissions department notes that the last acceptable ACT and SAT test date for regular decision applicants is in December. Each exam will require a different length of processing time, although three to four weeks is a safe estimate.
2. Balancing multiple exams: It is also in your best interest to ensure your assessments do not overlap. Certain colleges and universities require the ACT or SAT alone, while others, such as Cornell University, may also request one or more SAT subject tests.
Each exam will cover markedly different material, so it’s important to allot each test the individual attention it deserves. Students should also allow for the possibility that they will need to retake one or more exams. Studying for more than one exam simultaneously is difficult for most students, and it adds unnecessary stress and complication to an already challenging process.
Finally, note that subject tests are available less frequently than general exams, which can further complicate matters.
3. Consider school commitments: Even for those students who must only complete the ACT or SAT, there are several advantages to targeting nontraditional test dates. The summer, for example, may offer plentiful study time and a minimum of scholastic distractions.
In this instance, the first ACT or SAT test date, generally in September or October, can enable you to capitalize upon ample prep time. For students who work full-time in the summer, or who attend summer classes, the school year – say, January or February – may be a more viable option.
Camps, internships and travel can also have a negative impact on your review habits. The intensity of your schoolwork, midterms or final exams, sports and extracurriculars can also factor into your schedule. Plan your responsibilities ahead of time, and then choose a time of year that will have minimal distractions before your test date.
4. Manage your family commitments: Finally, consider the world beyond academics. Many students have family obligations such as weddings and vacations. Speak with the important people in your life and identify unavoidable commitments. You may find that you must alter your exam dates or, more radically, register for a different test.
Since colleges and universities often assign the ACT and SAT equal weight, and the exams are scheduled on different dates, simple availability may factor into your decision. Take advantage of the full range of possibilities when making your plans.
Regarding the SAT, keep in mind that there is a new version of the test and this new version should be the one submitted to colleges beginning with this year’s senior class. The content is very similar between the old and new versions. The major difference is how the concepts are tested and the steps students will have to take to solve problems correctly. I’ve had many parents ask how to compare the scores between the two versions, so check out this SAT Score Converter on CollegeBoard’s website.
Studying for the ACT and SAT can be very stressful. You can mitigate this stress, however, with basic planning and preparation. Know your deadlines and try to give yourself enough distraction-free time to study, and you may soon find that scheduling your ACT or SAT test date is much easier than you imagined.”
Landmark 12 Consulting can also help with planning and preparation. We provide clients with a Success Plan, which details deadlines for the SAT/ACT, as well as for college and scholarship applications, to keep the workload manageable and the stress at a minimum. Students, put contacting L12 on your growing to-do list… It’ll be the easiest item to mark off, and we can then help you accomplish all your other college to-do’s!