Road Map for December: Sophomores

Thanksgiving break is always followed by a college-related event: the release of PSAT scores. As I mentioned in my October message, this test is strictly diagnostic for 10th graders. However, it offers an opportunity to start thinking ahead. The Class of 2025 should consider the following in making a testing plan:

  • Are you better at the SAT or ACT, or are your scores comparable? Take diagnostic tests in May or June to help you identify your best option.
  • Would a paper and pencil test be better for you, or a digital exam? Keep in mind that the SAT will be digital ONLY starting in March 2024. It will be shorter than the paper version, and will allow calculators on all math problems. The ACT is a paper test and is not changing.
  • What times of year would be better or worse for you to prep and sit for your exams? Currently the SAT is offered in March, May, June, August, October, November and December. The ACT is offered in February, April, June, July, September, October and December. Consider what other commitments you will have at different times of year, and plan to work around them.
  • If your SAT score is stronger than your ACT, here are your options, along with potential pros and cons:
    • Take the new digital version, with a first sitting in March 2024. There’s no rush for prep, and you should be able to complete testing by August 2024, which is what I recommend for your class. You won’t have quite as much prep material available, but the College Board has released some already, and additional materials will become available from other sources in the coming months.
    • Take the current paper and pencil version, with a last sitting by December 2023. This is an option students might consider if they are not comfortable with a computer test, or with something new, or with having limited materials. This option will require focused prep this summer to ensure you get your best score by the time the last paper test is offered.
    • Do test prep this summer and test in the fall, but keep open the option of additional sittings in the spring with the digital version. It appears many colleges will allow students to superscore by combining both paper and digital versions. However, colleges are not yet publishing policies on this, so we don’t know for sure.

While there’s a lot to think about here, I do have a couple pieces of advice that apply to everyone. First, I do NOT recommend taking both the SAT and ACT, and I do NOT recommend continuing testing into the 2024-25 school year if at all possible. I also don’t like to see students taking their exams more than three times; after that, I’m concerned that students are focusing on testing at the expense of more important priorities, or in a way that’s just not healthy.

As we get close to the holidays most colleges reduce their campus tour schedules, since student tour guides will have exams and then go on break. Since I advise 10th graders to fit in at least a couple of college tours this school year, now is a good time to plan for campus visits in the spring semester. Look at dates that you might be able to visit a local college on a day that’s not a holiday so you can see what a typical day on campus looks like. In the next few weeks, I will be working with Class of ’25 students on college visits, junior year course selection and plans for summer 2023. For support on specific topics or to enroll in a comprehensive advising plan, please get in touch.