This is the first in a series of monthly blog posts designed for members of the high school class of 2012. It highlights planning steps that you can take now to make your college application process easier.
Take a look at the calendar. In one year, your college applications will be submitted and you’ll be waiting for admissions committees to pore over your accomplishments, and carefully read your essays before rendering a decision. There is a lot to do between now and then.
This month, create a long range plan for your standardized testing. If you took the PSAT in October, reflect on your scores. Are they at the level you hoped they would be? If not, consider how you are going to improve your scores: a tutor, test prep course, or the old fashioned book and computer program route?
Some parts of the US administer a college reportable version of the ACT as part of their statewide standardized testing. If you attend public school in Colorado, Michigan, or Illinois, your high school has already planned an ACT date for you. Otherwise, consider taking both the SAT and the ACT test during one of the available testing dates between now and June. Register early in order to commit your time to the test and to ensure access to the testing center of your choice.
For students considering application to the more selective colleges in the United States, SAT II scores are often required as well. These subject oriented tests are given on most the same dates as the SAT I exam, although you cannot take both the SAT I and the SAT II on the same test date. Colleges that require the SAT II exams generally ask for two subject tests. If you are considering studying engineering in college, consider choosing to take one of the two math exams, many engineering schools specifically request such a score.
By this time, you may have allocated three Saturdays in the next 6 months to your number 2 pencils and a desk at the local high school. Look ahead to the fall and pencil in a chance to do it all again. Research has shown that many students increase their test scores with familiarity. You might find that your scores on the SAT or ACT are substantially higher than the other test, and choose to concentrate a second round of testing on only one exam. That’s fine, but give your self ample opportunity to achieve your best scores prior to the first application deadlines you are trying to meet next fall.