Road Map for January: Juniors

By now you should have decided whether you’ll take the SAT or ACT, and it’s time to start prepping. Whether you’re using free resources, taking a class or working with a tutor, most students need to make a focused effort over at least a month to see a significant improvement in scores. If you’re looking for bigger score increases, you’ll need to invest serious time and take multiple practice tests along the way, so be sure to block out the hours you’ll need on your calendar over the coming months.

If you know which exam you’ll be taking you can register now for the March, May or June SAT, or the ACT in February, April, June or July. When choosing dates keep in mind your other commitments—do you have sports, a school play, or Model Congress? How about your family vacation or your aunt’s wedding?  Also consider your academic schedule.  For example, I don’t want students who are taking AP and IB exams to do any other testing in May, and ideally I aim for my students to complete their testing by August. It may not always be possible but if it works out, students love having testing off their plate once they get into application season.

Other than that, focus on your classes in the core academic subjects (English, math, history, science, and foreign language.) These are the most important criteria colleges will be looking at when you apply, with the possible exception for art students and elite athletes—and by elite I mean those who might realistically go pro in their sport. For everyone else, academics come first.