In my last post on early college planning I talked about the importance of taking rigorous classes in each of the 5 core subjects. Today we will be talking about standardized testing.
There are a variety of tests to consider. The PLAN test is the pre-ACT test and is typically given in the sophomore year of high school. It can be helpful to take the PLAN test to get an estimate or where you might score on the ACT but this is not typically something I advise preparing for.
If your school offers the PLAN test without cost, take it. If they don’t offer it, then I would not worry about this test. Instead, just start preparing for the ACT itself.
The PSAT is the preliminary SAT exam. This test is taken in the junior year and is the qualifying test for National Merit scholarships. Students may take the test before junior year although their score on the PSAT taken before junior year does not count toward National Merit competition.
The PSAT, like the SAT, is a test that is subject to coaching. Therefore, studying for the SAT to improve your score will have the same benefit on the PSAT. If you want to take the PSAT before junior year, then go ahead and do so. But don’t feel that you have to take this test early.
Finally, there are SAT subject tests. Subject tests, as the name implies, are one hour, subject specific tests. These tests should be taken immediately after you complete the most advanced class offered by your school in that subject. For instance, if you take advanced biology as a sophomore, and that is the highest biology course offered by your school, you should take the SAT subject test in June after your sophomore year.
During your freshman and sophomore years you should also be taking practice SAT and ACT tests. This will help you familiarize yourself with the directions on these exams as well as get you used to the types of questions asked. I have previously discussed ways to prepare for standardized tests.
The college board also offers an SAT question of the day that you should subscribe to.
Next, early planning for extra curricular activities. Stay tuned.