If you’ve got senior students starting this year—congratulations! It’s an accomplishment for everyone, whether it’s your first graduate or your last. And while there’s a palpable sense of relief, there’s often an underlying stress as the realities of college applications, SATs, ACTs, campus visits, choosing a major and transcript compilation begins.
The first deadline most seniors encounter is the fall ACT & SAT dates: The SAT is held on Oct. 10th this year, and your registration must be postmarked or submitted by September 9th. The first ACT deadline is even earlier: registration must be completed by August 7th, and the test date is September 12th.
While some colleges don’t require test scores any more, and despite the anti-test emphasis that surfaces in the HS community, it’s still more than a good idea to take it, especially as a homeschooler. While the whole process has certainly become friendlier, test scores provide that nice objective measure of success that no one can argue with. You should be looking for what your college requires for SAT II tests; really look at the fine print–some colleges don’t require any SAT IIs except from homeschoolers! If you’re at all unclear, call them up and check—when it’s too late, it’s too late.
When it comes to the often-unpleasant topic of studying for the SATs; the advice offered within the multitudes of guides is sound, and pretty much the same: you can’t cram for the SAT, eat breakfast, get your ID/calculator/etc. ready before the day of the exam, etc. etc. etc. No surprises there.
However, when dealing with testing strategy, it pays to find, lend or buy an up-to-date guide; things can change, and with something as important as test scores/college/rest-of-your-life, this is probably not the area to skimp in. Have your student look through its pages somewhat first; the style, structure, and organization will appeal differently to everyone, even if the information is in itself similar. I was a huge Princeton Review fan–others love The College Board books. Whatever works. There is also a good amount of practice material online at the College Board and ACT websites—a natural starting point.
Try to get a guide with a practice exam CD, or at least take some of the available practice tests online; they’ll give you a chance to get a picture of how well your studying is going, can identify weak spots, and provide a chance to practice all that new strategy.
But above all, get the dates on the calendar (and early enough so that you can take it again if you want), and study early, if you haven’t started already. Study, Study, and don’t just stick to the prep-books; if you’re weak in algebra, go through some review books; if your writing lacks necessary elements, work on that!