COLLEGE ADMISSION TESTS - A REALITY
As much as we wish standardized testing did not exist - the SAT I, SAT II and ACT are here to stay. It is a myth that colleges do not look at standardized test scores. They do. However, some colleges give more weight to them than others. One of the advantages of starting the college search early is to know which tests the colleges require. It is important to develop a plan for scheduling tests so that students take the necessary ones, have time to prepare and meet the deadlines. Although practically all colleges require the SAT I, there are some colleges that require the ACT or will at least consider it when reviewing an application. Since some students do better on the ACT than the SAT I, it should always be considered when planning your testing schedule. Not all colleges require the SAT II, but if they are recommended then a student should take them. If you think that there is even a remote possibility that you will apply to a college that requires SAT II than it is strongly recommended that you take them your junior year.
A good manageable schedule would be for sophomores to take the PLAN test, juniors take the PSAT in the fall, the SAT I in the spring and the SAT II tests in June of their junior year. If you score well enough, than you do not have to take the test again. What constitutes 'scoring well enough' depends on how your score compares with the scores of the colleges you are considering. If a senior needs/wants to take the SAT I again or more SAT II tests than he/she can do so in the fall of senior year. However, it is recommended that you not make it your plan to take all these tests senior year - talk about stress! Although most students do take the SAT I more than once, it is usually suggested that taking it more than twice or three times is of little benefit. Remember all scores are reported - the good, the bad and the ugly!
AP tests should be taken at the end of the course and the IB tests should be taken as scheduled. There can be conflict between the scheduling dates and times of these tests since both occur in May. It may take some planning to manage the schedule. Although these tests are voluntary, they do have some benefits. One, they are an excellent way to experience taking inclusive tests that give a really good indication of your understanding the subject. Second, some colleges and universities, particularly in the east, may consider these scores in place of or in addition to the standardized tests. Third, if you score well on the AP or IB tests some schools will give you credit so that you do not have to take entry- level courses. This can save you money and/or it can give you time to take more colleges courses - maybe even some outside your major.
What are my recommendations for preparing for standardized testing?
Practice, practice, practice and practice some more. Practice particularly those areas in which you did not do well in the PLAN and/or PSAT.
Read, read, read and read some more. Read newspapers, periodicals, books, news magazines, and even 'Golf', and 'Hot Rod' - ideally with a dictionary at your elbow.
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