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Getting Down to Business – College Prep in Your Junior Year

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Everyone knows that junior year is the toughest year of high school. Not only do you have your regular classes to worry about, but now you also have to begin knuckling down and doing the hard work of researching and actively preparing for college. Now you’ve got homework, band practice, football, choir, art, likely eight other extracurricular commitments, along with figuring out not only what colleges you’d like to apply to, but what you’d actually want to do in college, what you’d want to study for some of the most important and expensive years of your life.

Of course, on top of all of this, your junior year is also haunted by the great specters of the PSATs, SATs, and ACTs. For some, these tests might actually be a welcome reprieve from the wildness of picking out colleges and majors, but for others, junior year as a whole is dreaded because of these tests.

But regardless of how confident, nervous, busy, or bewildered you are, Tutoring 101 is here to help!

So, just to get you started, here is the basic breakdown of everything you need to know to get ready for your college test preparations during junior year:

  1. Begin studying for your PSATs the summer before junior year begins. The PSAT, as further explained by College Board, is an important and terrific way to kickoff your year of SAT and ACT exams. Not only can the PSATs help you figure out what areas to focus your studies on when preparing for the SATs, but they can also  help familiarize you with the format and style of the SAT while providing you the opportunity to enter the National Merit Scholarship program.
  2. Take a prep class! The summer between your sophomore and junior year is the perfect time to take some extra college prep courses. These courses can give you a real jump start on studying and on learning how to study for your PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
  3. Take the PSAT in October of your junior year.
  4. After you’ve completed the PSAT, you can take the SAT at any point during your junior year. Of course, it’s better to give yourself the best cushion possible between your PSATs and your ACTs, in order to avoid burning out. Given this, a December/January SAT date is recommended.
  5. Take your ACT in the spring of your junior year. While you have plenty of opportunities during the spring to get your ACT exam out of the way, the earlier you manage to get it over with, the better. This not only helps alleviate stress but will also give you more time to study and retake any exams on which you think you can do better (after all, we all have bad days where our best doesn’t always shine through). So it’s best if you can get your first round (and hopefully last round!) of SATs and ACTs over with by March.
  6. During the summer between your junior and senior year… RELAX, take a breath, congratulate yourself, and start visiting colleges!

Getting ready and making decisions about college can be some of the most stressful parts of high school — but you don’t have to do these things alone and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You have a world of resources at your feet to help you prepare for these exams, so don’t let it slip through your fingers and don’t let nerves stop you from getting that head start you need.

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