First of all, let me congratulate you on making it to junior year! Take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Everything will be alright. Don’t let standardized tests or the ever-impending doom of college applications scare you. You can do this.
When planning out your testing schedule, there are many different things to consider. I’ve made a testing schedule (for the SAT, ACT and SAT IIs), based on a number of factors:
- Time – Studying for these tests takes months. You don’t want to start studying the week before.
- Focus – By this, I mean you want to give 100% of your focus to studying. Thus, I recommend only taking one test a month. By following my schedule, you will still be able to take each test two or three times.
- Availability – You can’t take a test if it’s not being offered (duh).
There is one factor, however, that I didn’t take into account: easiness. It’s said that certain tests, such as the January SAT, is easier than other ones. That is not true. This article shows the average score and difficulty of every SAT math section for January, May and October since 2006 (’05 for October). For some individuals, January just happened to be an easier month; this one individual does not represent every student who took the test, so be wary when asking your friends what they thought.
Onto the schedule. (DISCLAIMER: You may find that this schedule doesn’t work for you, and you obviously don’t have to take any test two or three times. That’s fine. This is merely a suggestion of where to place things.):
- November: SAT II, in either math or a language
- December and January: STUDY PERIOD
- February: ACT
- March: SAT
- April: STUDY PERIOD
- May: SAT II in any subject(s)
- June: ACT
- September: ACT
- October: SAT
As you can see, I started in November and took you all the way to October of the following year. I started in November with an SAT II because this is the test that most people forget about. November is good for math or language because these are two subjects that you work on for more than one school year. You wouldn’t take the US History SAT II in November of junior year if you haven’t completed the course yet. By your junior year, you will have completed most, if not all, of the skills required for either of these two tests.
I used December and January as study periods because you will have a lot going on in the later months of the school year, so you want to devote as much time as possible to getting ready early on in the game. Plus, imagine studying for the first time in January, when you also have midterms and your 1000 extracurricular activities on top of that. Yikes! I also chose April as a study period because you will have spring break and the holidays, so why not make the most out of them?
The other months have been covered by my three reasons at the beginning of the article. The only one that might seem weird is May. I chose SAT IIs for May because at that time, most students have either completed the full coursework at a regular or honors level, depending on where you go to school, or you will be studying for the AP exam. In high school, I took the US History SAT II a week before I took the APUSH exam. Studying for both at the same time ended up really benefiting me and I was happy with both of my scores. By doing this, you will be killing two birds with one stone.
Again, take a deep breath. Relax. YOU. GOT. THIS. Don’t let this year get the best of you. Study hard and utilize your time wisely, but don’t forget that you’re still a person and not an SAT score, and if you royally screw up, you can still save your ass with your essays, supplements, extracurricular activities and recommendations. Take some “me time” and enjoy yourself – you’re still a teenager, after all.