SAT’s High School Timeline
- Create a high school plan. Make sure you know what high school courses are required by colleges and that you´re taking the right classes starting this year. Get to know the levels of courses offered by your school.
- Take challenging classes
- You should take at least five solid academic classes every semester. These usually include classes in English (language arts), math, science, social studies, foreign languages, and the arts. Try to take advantage of honors and other higher-level courses to challenge yourself.
- Learn about the SAT Subject Tests
- Although most students take SAT Subject Tests beginning in their junior year, there are some tests that you should take as soon as possible after taking the subjects, for example: World History, Biology E/M, Chemistry, and Physics.
- Read and write as much as you can
- Go beyond your reading and writing assignments in school. Reading books and magazines, keeping a journal or blogging can help you improve your writing skills, reading comprehension and vocabulary.
- Explore the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®)
- Try out college-level work, improve your abilities, and with the right grades, maybe even receive college credit. More than 3,000 higher education institutions award credit based on AP Exam grades.
- Ask if the PSAT/NMSQT® is offered to 10th-graders
- While it’s usually given in the 11th grade, the PSAT/NMSQT is also often offered in the 10th grade. By taking it this year, you’ll receive a score report to help you improve your performance on next year’s exams.
- Think about taking the SAT Subject Tests
- Are you taking any courses this year that are related to an SAT Subject Test? For some subjects, it’s best to take those exams at the end of the year, while the material is still fresh in your mind.
- Keep up your participation in school activities or volunteer efforts
- Extracurricular activities can help you develop time-management skills, expand your horizons and find what you are passionate about doing.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT
- Sign up for the test, which is given in October. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT is the best way to get ready for the SAT.
- Plan for spring tests
- You can take either the SAT or up to three SAT Subject Tests on one test day. Plan your testing schedule carefully if you want to take both types of tests.
- Get ready for the SAT. Visit the SAT Practice section to take free practice questions and a free full-length official practice test. Be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day for daily practice. Use the access code on your PSAT/NMSQT score report to sign into My College Quickstart. With this personalized planning kit, you can prepare for the SAT using a study plan based on your PSAT/NMSQT results.
- Get ready for the SAT Subject Tests. Visit the SAT Subject Tests Practice section to get free practice questions and answer explanations for all 20 tests.
- Take the SAT
- Send scores to colleges and scholarship programs
- If you know which schools you’d like to receive your scores, then consider sending them in the spring of your junior year. Colleges see this as a sign of interest and may use scores to qualify you for special campus visits programs, information sessions in your hometown or for scholarships.
- Take the SAT again?
- If you plan on taking the SAT again, the beginning of senior year is the best time. Research shows that students who take the SAT a second time usually improve their score.
- Improve your performance. Use My SAT Online Score Report to review your strengths and areas for improvement.
- Visit SAT Skills Insight to understand the skills needed to take you to the next level
- Visit the SAT Practice section and be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day @SAT Question on Twitter for daily practice.
- Take SAT Subject Tests™
- SAT Subject Tests measure your knowledge of a particular subject. If you continue to study the subject and take the test again, your score should reflect your increased knowledge.
- Send scores to colleges and scholarship programs
- Many colleges and universities have application deadlines in December or January of your senior year. If you haven’t sent your scores to any institutions or if you would like to send more score reports, now is the time.
ACT/SAT Prep Resources
The ACT website offers the following assistance:
ACT Online Prep™ (Software) The only test preparation program designed exclusively by ACT test development professionals! http://www.actstudent.org/onlineprep/
The Real ACT Prep Guide (Book) The official ACT prep guide—the only one that includes five actual retired ACT tests—each with an optional Writing Test. http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/book.htm
ACT Question of the Day Each day we post a new ACT Test practice question. http://www.act.org/qotd/
Preparing for the ACT
A free student preparation booklet available from most high schools and colleges—includes test information, complete practice tests with scoring keys, and a writing prompt.
http://www.act.org/aap/pdf/Preparing-for-the-ACT.pdf (PDF; 64 pages, 2MB)
http://www.act.org/aap/pdf/Preparing-for-the-ACT-Spanish.pdf (PDF; 72 pages, 2.1MB)
Practice Test Questions
The SAT website recommends the following options:
The SAT provides free practice opportunities, including The Official SAT Question of the Day™, Sample Practice Questions, and Practice Test and tutorials from Khan Academy, which allows students to take an official full-length SAT test or watch video tutorials.
There are also two paid options to choose from: The Official SAT Study Guide with DVD™ with 11 official tests and exclusive practice tools created by the test maker, and The Official SAT Online Course™, a software package that features 10 online tests, 18 interactive lessons, and personalized essay scoring. (http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/)
There are, of course, local and nationwide businesses that offer PSAT, SAT, and ACT prep, as well as paid classes made available by local school districts and community colleges. For independent preparation, books, flash cards, and DVDs by The Princeton Review, Barron’s and others, may be purchased at book stores or online.
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