By: Belinda Gonzalez-Leon, Ed. D., MBA
High School Juniors just took the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) in October and they should now take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) in March! Juniors should take the SAT in May, June, and August if needed.
When testing is completed, they need to focus on college applications. Wait, what? You thought the SAT was for Senior year? Sure, you could do that- but you are going to have one chaotic Senior year.
The math questions on the SAT are mostly high school math topics up through Algebra II. Algebra II is typically taken in grade 11. Therefore, by March of your Junior year, you will have completed at least 7 months of Algebra II. With the material still fresh in your mind, you are ready to give the SAT a try. Granted, very few students reach their goal score on the first try.
Usually, by the second or third attempt, students hit their highest scores and obtain the scores needed for college entry and/or scholarship qualification.
A high school junior who takes the SAT in March has a second opportunity in May and a third SAT opportunity in June. Before first or second SAT attempts, the student should know the SAT score needed to be accepted at their colleges of choice.
Students should also keep in mind that to qualify for the Bright Futures Scholarship at 100% tuition, the minimum score is 1330 or 1210 for the 75% tuition rate (in addition to GPA and volunteer hour requirements).
If the student still doesn’t hit their goal score by the third attempt in June, try a fourth time (after appropriate studying) in August. The August test date allows for studying and preparation over the summer without too much academic overload since school has just started. If you must take it in the following months after the August test date- so be it. But, keep a few things in mind.
The Common Application opens on August 1st. As soon as it opens, you should start working on your college applications and required essays. The applications open before you start your senior year of high school. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens on October 1st. And then you have your college application deadlines.
This year the University of Florida and Florida State University required college applications be in by November 1st. I had several students with November 15th deadlines for other colleges too. If you decide to apply Early Decision or Early Application- that’s a December deadline. However, if you want to impress colleges- have all applications in weeks before their deadline.
If you want to be considered for a college’s Honors Program or special scholarships, you will be asked to submit applications early. If you plan to apply for private scholarships, that’s more essays and applications on top of the college ones. Imagine trying to fit into that schedule several rounds of SAT test-taking and studying while also enjoying the benefits of being a senior in high school such as Homecoming in September or October.
Basically, you are cramming everything you need to do for college between August – December. Do yourself a favor and get the SAT out of the way before you start your Senior year.
One more thing to remember. You can take the SAT between March-August in order to earn the score you need to be accepted at your college of choice. However, if you need to keep taking the SAT in order to qualify for Bright Futures or other scholarships- you can still do that. Bright Futures allows you to submit SAT scores up until almost the end of your senior year.
Dr. Belinda Leon is available for presentations on the step by step process for applying to college: high school coursework, choosing the right college, the application, how financial aid works- the entire process. Individual consultations too! Dr. Leon can also assist with pre-school, elementary, middle and high school questions as well as graduate school, international students and foreign credential validation issues.
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