I know, I know; you're thinking you just got finished with sophomore year and you just started enjoying summer vacation. Who's thinking about standardized tests now? Not you, right? If you know College Driven, you know the love/hate relationship I have with standardized testing. I've spouted the words, "The best thing that came out of COVID-19 is test-optional." I still feel that way, but there's a new reality. Colleges are basically coming to the conclusion that the pandemic is over. Although there are some schools that decided to remain test optional for several more years (hallelujah!), several highly selective colleges have reinstated the requirement, and that list is growing faster than the shade of red on that summer sunburn.
So, why am I suggesting you put more money into the coffers of ACT.org? It could set you up for better test results for Senior year when you do apply to colleges! It's all about strategy and figuring out how you could benefit from the options before you.
Benefits of Taking the ACT the Summer Before Junior Year
Taking the ACT, even if it's your first time, and even with no prep, will provide you with baseline results that will act as an indicator to future planning. Taking practice ACTs just aren't the same. The environment is different, many take the test and don't even clock themselves, the time of day when students take the practice tests usually varies from the actual ACT where you are going in half asleep. But, taking it in the summer, July 15 this year, is a great precursor because it is the real thing. And, I'm not even asking that you study for it! I'd familiarize yourself with the basic format of the test, and understand the time allotted for each section, but that's it. How dare I suggest such a thing? Easy! It's just to get your baseline, and nobody but you will see the results (if you follow my advice on registration).
Take the ACT the summer before your Junior year begins if:
You've completed math courses Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry - if you're going into AP Calculus your Junior Year, each day you are in that class is a step farther away from the majority of math questions on the ACT. There are only a couple of questions on the ACT that have anything to do with Calculus. Best to take the ACT when that level of math is still fresh in your head. Advanced mathematics will NOT help you on the ACT.
If you are a person that gets stressed about these tests, taking the ACT during the summer will have fewer people in the room. It'll be less intimidating.
The next ACT test date is in September when school is well underway. Do you really want to "fit in" a 3-hour test when school is in session? Get it over with so you can concentrate on more important things.
Speaking of concentrating on more important things; do you think you could be a serious contender for National Merit Scholarship? If so, it's better to devote time to studying for the PSAT that is usually administered by your school in October. That test could earn you money, but really it's more about earning you the recognition. If you become a Finalist, that's a feather in your cap in the admissions pool. Highly selective colleges love to announce how many National Merits they have attending their school - could you be one of them? Dedicate your time to studying where it counts the most! You technically only get one shot at the PSAT, and that's during 11th grade.
When you get your results, use it to determine where you'll be focusing your attention in improving on future tests. It'll act as your guide of concentration. Not all, but most colleges accept SuperScores! So, solidify test results by area. For example, let's say you take the ACT in July and get a solid 34 subscore in the Math and Science sections, but bomb English and Reading. The next time you take the ACT, concentrate on improving efforts only in the areas where you bombed. You already have that Math and Science sitting at a 34, and no one can take that away from you. Once you begin to combine scores between tests, taking your best subscores and recalculating your composite score, you'll be sitting pretty!
When registering to take ANY ACT, never ever, ever designate any colleges to receive ACT's free score report! If you are confused by this statement, read this blog post NOW before registering. If taking the summer ACT, you may find that you might have to travel a bit farther out to find a test center location for the July test. More than likely, your school won't be a test center for the July test date. Find another nearby location. Trust me, it's worth it! The deadline to register for the summer ACT without a late fee penalty is this Friday, June 16. Start seeing college admissions as a series of strategic moves on your part. The better your strategy, the better your results. Considering taking the summer ACT is the right move for most. Is it yours?