Okay, I’m a junior, now what?

Okay, you’re a junior, now what? Junior year is the absolute best time to begin the test-preparation process. Almost all college-bound juniors will take the PSAT in October of their junior year. If you get a good score on the PSAT, we highly recommend taking your first SAT in November or December of that same year. If not, plan to take your first SAT in January or March after you have prepped a little.

Look at the schools where you’d like to apply. If your scores put you in the 75% + score band, in the top quartile of students, then you have achieved a competitive score, and your scores will be an asset to your application. If your GPA is marginally weaker than the college’s average applicant, you may want to push the scores beyond the 75% threshold to compensate. But if your GPA is competitive and you are in the upper quartile with your SAT score, you have effectively checked off the box for SAT scores. You could take it again, if you feel so inclined, but your best course of action will likely be to concentrate your efforts on the other parts of your college applications—maintaining your grades, taking SAT Subject Tests (if necessary), writing your admissions essays.

If your scores do not put you in the 75% + score band, plan to take the test again in March, May or June of your junior year. Our data indicate that most students will get a bump on the 2nd and 3rd iterations of the test. Generally the most significant increase will occur on the 2nd real test, followed by an additional bump on the 3rd real test. There is clearly a “testing” effect, in which familiarity and increased comfort with the test lead to enhanced performance. This is the logic behind the mock tests and also factors in when you take multiple iterations of the actual assessments.

Keep in mind that competitive applicants will also have a few AP tests and SAT subject tests to take in May and June, so don’t spread yourself too “test” thin.

Below is a schedule for your junior and senior years:

Junior Year

August through June—Get or stay involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges want consistency and depth in your non-academic activities—colleges are looking for a well-rounded classes rather than well-rounded students.

August—Challenge yourself with your schedule. Add as many AP courses as you can handle. Keep up with your grades.

October—Take the PSAT. Only take a PSAT prep course if you are a potential National Merit Scholar or if you want to start your SAT preparation early.

November through January—Take your first SAT or ACT. However you prepare, you should start your preparation 10 to 15 weeks prior to your scheduled test date.

January through February—register to take the spring AP exams. You may consider taking prep courses to make sure you are prepared.

December through May—Learn more about financial aid.

May through June—Take any SAT subject tests that were relevant to your junior-year classes. You may consider taking prep courses to make sure you are prepared.

June through August—Make a college list and collect applications. Begin filling out the applications over the summer.

June through August—Set up interviews and college visits with colleges you would like to learn more about.

Senior Year

August through June—Stay involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges want consistency and depth in your non-academic activities—colleges are looking for a well-rounded classes rather than well-rounded students.

August—Challenge yourself with your schedule. Add as many AP courses as you can handle. Keep up with your grades.

October through November—Retake the SAT one last time if you did not get your target score.

November—Meet with your guidance counselor for application advice.

November through December—Try to complete your college applications now.

March through April—Watch your mail for your acceptance letters and choose the school that is best for you.

June—Graduate and send your final transcript to your school of choice!


Applerouth is a trusted test prep and tutoring resource. We combine the science of learning with a thoughtful, student-focused approach to help our clients succeed. Call or email us today at 202-558-5644 or info@applerouth.com.


  • John

    Great tips. Thanks for the schedule. Will share.
    http://www.collegeandgraduatetestprep.com

  • Anonymous

    Hi — This information seems a bit garbled (it’s repeated under the senior year section, as well). Is this what you mean to say? August through June— . . . colleges are looking for a well-rounded classes rather than well-rounded students.