Here at Signet Education, we recommend that you get your standardized testing done before the start of your senior year. If you do, you’ll have more energy to focus on your applications during senior year. You’ll also have a concrete, numerical basis for your safety and reach schools. (And, if you absolutely need to retake the tests senior year, it gives you that option.)
Here’s how to get started on test prep in your junior year...
First, learn about the test options out there
Many students rush straight into the rSAT or the ACT without considering which one may be better for them. You can use either of them for college admissions, so you should choose the one you would likely perform better on.
Do diagnostic testing
For rSAT and ACT, it’s better to do a full rSAT or ACT rather than just rely on the rPSAT or pre-ACT tests to get an idea of the areas you need to work on. Signet Education offers full diagnostic testing services—let us know if you need more information about this.
Compare diagnostic test results
Check it out. Which test did you do better on? Which was easier for you? If you do diagnostic testing with us, we’ll help you think through these issues.
Decide which test to take
You might think about prepping for both tests, but this is not what we advise. It’s too much work and won’t allow you to prepare adequately for either one. When you prep, only work from official rSAT or ACT guides. We recommend working with a one-on-one tutor who can guide you through your trouble spots.
Establish a target score
Be realistic—you don’t have to get a perfect score on these tests. Base your goal score on what the scores the colleges you’re planning to apply to are looking for. Google search the school’s name and average tests scores. Use the information listed on the school’s website for the most accurate information.
After you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to create a formal test prep plan. Here’s what we recommend:
- How much should you practice? We recommend 2-5 hours of prep per week. 30-45 minutes per day is ideal, if possible.
- When should you expect to see improvement? Usually around 6 months of prep/practice. You should prepare at least 203 months before your first test.
- How many time should you take the test? Plan for two test dates. The majority of students take the test twice.
- When should you take the test? As early as possible. We recommend March or April for your first test, and May or June for your second.
- What testing materials should you use? Only use official testing materials for practice. They’re the most accurate materials out there.
Before you begin any of this, make a concrete plan for yourself and write down your goals. “This week I’ll focus on SAT vocabulary and spend 2-3 hours practicing flashcards. Next week I’ll move on to writing practice, and I’ll spend 4-5 hours on that…” etc. Write this plan down and stick to it.