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General Resource : Resources for Colleges >> 2. College Application Advice

  • Anticipating High School Years
  • Freshmen
    Freshman year is about learning the ropes of high school. Focus on your studies, figure out what subjects interest you most, and get involved in sports and/or extracurricular activities. You don’t need to worry about test prep just yet, but you might want to think about your testing options. You may want to start thinking about taking the PSAT next fall.
    Continue to focus on your academic curriculum. Start thinking about test preparation, and take a practice SAT or ACT. It's free, you can take it online, it won’t go on your record and your scores will not be sent to any schools.

    If you're taking AP classes, sit for the corresponding SAT Subject Test immediately after your AP course so that the material is fresh in your mind. Students typically take the PSAT in October of their sophomore or junior year. The PSAT is an important test for a couple of reasons: it's great practice for the SAT and it's the qualifying test for a National Merit Scholarship. The PSAT is great practice for the SAT, and a high score could qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship. Start your prep in the summer, so you’ll be ready come test time in October.  Summer is a great time to prepare for the PSAT since the test is only administered in October.

    Many students choose to prepare the summer before their junior year. It’s a great way to get the bulk of your SAT, ACT and PSAT prep done while you have more free time —and get ahead of the college admissions game.

    Many juniors take the PSAT in October followed by the SAT or ACT in the winter or spring. Do you have to take the SAT or ACT in your junior year? No. But it’s generally a good idea because it leaves you plenty of time for a second try if you’re not happy with your score. You don’t want to put the test off until your senior year, while you’re also working on your college applications.

    There is still time to prep and get a great score, but the fall of your senior year is your last chance to ace the test. Make the choice for a less stressful September by prepping in the summer. It will free up more time later to work on a killer college application.  If you don’t have time in the summer, then begin your preparation as early as possible after the school year starts.
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