How early should I start standardized testing?

Rising High School Juniors and Seniors: As May comes to a close, the pressure to not only complete but excel on standardized testing becomes more tangible. Trust me, I remember the feeling quite clearly. It can be tempting to put it out of your mind during the summer months, thinking of college applications as an inevitable but distant event. However, getting started early on standardized testing is essential to lowering your stress levels and building a strong application.

Ideally, you should have finished testing before the start of your senior year. Any later than that and you are risking the chance that your scores may not be ready for schools for early applications. In addition, you won’t have to worry about studying for the ACT/SAT’s while you are also writing your personal essay(s), getting letters of recommendation, visiting any last-minute schools and keeping up with your schoolwork.

Based on this timeframe, it is recommended to start taking practice tests as early as the beginning of junior year. Starting practice tests early is important because taking diagnostic tests when there is minimal urgency can help you best assess where you stand and on what topics you need to improve.

If you start early enough, you should have time to prepare without feeling too rushed. In addition, by beginning earlier rather than later, you save yourself time to retake whichever test you choose. If after taking your exams you believe you could achieve a higher score, retaking your exams can be extremely helpful. Not only can it allow you to score higher overall but improving specific sections on retaken exams can boost your score at universities that super-score.

-Olivia Ferraro

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