With finals nearly behind us and summer on the horizon, I have one question that I love to ask current sophomores: when do you plan to take your ACT or SAT?
If you’re like most post-finals sophomores, you’re probably not sure right now. And that likely doesn't feel like a problem.
After all, it’s nearly summer! You have plenty of time to figure out a plan for testing, right?
When it comes to ACT & SAT testing, the biggest mistake rising juniors make is waiting too long to come up with a college admissions testing plan.
It's incredibly important to have this game plan set before you enjoy a little R&R this summer because, for many students, the summer before your junior year is the perfect time to prepare.
Testing adds stress to your already busy schedule in the middle of your hardest year of high school.
While preparing over the summer is not the right fit for every student, I’m going to share three hidden advantages of studying over the summer and knocking out testing in early fall of your junior year.
Let’s get to it!
1. Boost Your Junior Year GPA
I always feel for the seniors who come to me for last-minute testing help before applying to college. There's such stress involved when they can see that time is running out while their to-do list keeps getting longer.
But my heart sinks most when they say, "I'm just going to boost my test score quickly and then try to bump my GPA before I apply."
Unfortunately, if you've waited until senior year, it's too late to boost your GPA because your junior year is the final full year of grades that prospective colleges will see on your college applications.
While your ACT & SAT scores are an important part of your college application even at test optional colleges, your GPA is at least equally important and, typically, even more important to an admissions committee.
We want your GPA to be as high as possible when you apply to college.
When you prepare the summer before your junior year, you can exclusively focus on getting your highest ACT or SAT score without having to siphon energy from your school work.
This approach allows you to get your highest possible test score and your best possible GPA with less stress.
It’s a win-win.
2. Stay Committed To Your Passions
When it comes to college admissions, it’s easy to become tunnel-visioned and focus exclusively on your quantifiable measures: your GPA and ACT or SAT scores.
But - remember - you are so much more than your numbers.
It’s college admissions officers' job to create the most compelling and innovative freshman class that they can. What you bring to the table - what’s most interesting about you and moving to you - can’t be quantified and ranked.
What matters deeply to you matters to the members of a college admissions panel. And where you choose to spend your time shows what matters most to you.
Sadly, because junior year is so challenging, many students are tempted to drop the activities that they care deeply about in exchange for extra study time.
But, if you plan your junior year well, you can continue to enjoy your favorite activities without them detracting from your performance in other areas of life.
Take it from the dad of one of my students who wrote me after his son finished his Complete Package program with 4 points of improvement on the ACT.
Thank you for the nice note! I know he would not have gotten a 33 without your program. Period. Your course is well organized and easy to follow.
And thank you for suggesting he take the test in September of this year (the beginning of his Junior year). NO ONE around here would have suggested that date. All say take the test in the spring of Junior year even when he has track and field, when he plays his violin at a high level, and when he is taking several AP classes - chemistry among them with a tough precalculus class to boot!!!
Now he can focus on other things his Junior and Senior years. What a relief!!! - Mark N., Proud Dad
Preparing over the summer and testing early in the fall frees up time for soccer practice, volunteer work, and rehearsals - not to mention fun experiences like dances, football games, and movie nights with friends.
Plan well now so you have the time to enjoy your most rewarding activities throughout your junior and senior years.
3. Get A Jump On Your PSAT Prep
In October of your junior year, you’ll take the PSAT/NMSQT. (The NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.)
While the PSAT is true practice for some students, the strongest students can use it to qualify for merit aid gated scholarships. Unfortunately, many families are completely unaware of the possible scholarship implications until after their student has taken the test.
The sad fact is that most students don’t factor the PSAT into their test prep plans until it’s too late.
So if you’re a go-getter who wants to take advantage of ACT prep or SAT prep over the summer, you can leverage the studying you’re already doing for the full-length exam to improve your performance on the PSAT too.
Two birds. One stone.
Here's another kind email I received from one of my clients:
I wanted to give you an update on my daughter. She is the second of my daughters to take one of your ACT prep courses. She took one of your courses and made a 34 on the ACT. She also used this course to prep for the PSAT. Her selection index was a 223 and she was recently confirmed as making the National Merit Cutoff for Alabama. Thank you!
Again, I am a proud father and want to celebrate my daughter’s success, but also wanted to thank you and the course for helping her reach these scores.
PS – Daughter #3 will soon be prepping for her ACT and we will be ordering your course again!
If you prepare with my either of my Complete Package programs, you’ll receive a free bonus that’s exclusively available to my Complete Package students: Quick Prep for the PSAT.
This bonus course, a $187 value, teaches my students how to transition the skills they’ve honed in their test prep program to the PSAT in a simple, streamlined course that’s only available to my Complete Package students.
It's a great way to work smarter and gain every last point you possibly can from an amazing test prep program.
Is Summer Prep The Right Choice For You?
Taking the ACT or SAT won’t ever be a cake walk, but preparing over the summer does make the experience more manageable and less overwhelming.
That said, this path is not the right choice for every student. Some students have too many summer plans to make it work. Others benefit from having another semester of math under their belts before beginning the process.
To discover whether or not preparing over the summer is a good fit for you, you'll need to take two steps.
Step 1: Decide whether the ACT or SAT is your better fit exam.
Step 2: Once you've decided which test to take, read the corresponding article below to decide if preparing over the summer is a good choice for you.
Or, if you prefer, you can skip those two steps and simply schedule a private consultation with me. I'm happy to walk you through the process myself.
Next Step: Prepare for Success
Once you know which test you're best suited for and which test date you'll be taking, you'll need to put a test prep plan in place.
You should begin preparing 3 or 4 months before your first test date.
After you've decided which ACT or SAT test date to target, count back 12-16 weeks and put that date in your calendar as the time to start preparing.
You have a lot of choices when it comes to test prep. Forget the overwhelm of testing. Just choosing how to prepare can be enough to make you want to quit before you even get started.
But, to me, online preparation with a personal touch is the way to go.
I started Higher Scores Test Prep in 2014 after working for 7 years as a private in-home test prep tutor. (If you're doing the math, I've been working with college-bound students for 14 years - a smidge less than half my time on Earth.)
As a tutor, I was charging $250 per hour, but I hated that I was being referred to families who couldn't afford my rates. I also hated that had to turn hard-working students away due to my packed calendar.
I created my online test prep courses to provide the same high-quality service my clients had come to expect from me at a much more accessible price point.
My online test prep courses are founded on the same customizable score-specific strategies that made me a sought after private tutor.
These tried-and-true strategies alone make testing a less overwhelming, far more successful venture. The four hour Quick Prep courses get you started with the most hard-hitting of these strategies when you're in a time bind. Pair these strategies with academic review as in my Complete Package programs and you'll be unstoppable on test day.
I would love to help you prepare and earn your higher score on the ACT or SAT.
You can begin for free with my eBook - The Insider's Guide to the ACT and SAT - or dive straight into one of my online test prep courses today.
With satisfaction guaranteed, you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of points to gain.
Which online test prep course will you choose?
- Quick Prep -
Discover simple, proven strategies to improve your score in as few as 4 hours.
Includes over $200 in free bonuses!
Students fine-tune their test day approach via subject-level, strategy-focused on-demand video tutorials. The 4 hours of video tutorials can be complemented with the optional 10 day study guide that organizes and amplifies your prep efforts.
The best fit for students who:
- don't have time or energy to invest in a full test prep course
- already completed a prep program with another company but haven't yet reached their score potential
- are taking their next exam in fewer than 2 months
- Complete Package -
Challenge yourself, breakthrough your blocks, and earn your most remarkable score yet.
Includes over $500 in free bonuses!
Students tackle a comprehensive review of the academic concepts tested on the exam as well as rigorous lessons on target-score-specific strategies via on-demand video tutorials, practice questions, and two full-length practice tests. Includes a 24 day study guide to be completed over 6-12 weeks and prep books mailed to your doorstep.
The best fit for students who:
- are highly motivated to earn their highest possible score with thorough preparation
- haven't officially begun to prepare and want to learn from an expert who knows the ACT & SAT inside and out
- are taking their next exam in more than 2 months