Think Ahead!

This is a busy time of year for most students, but it tends to be a frantic period for high school juniors. May and June mark the height of testing for many college-bound juniors. Aside from preparing for end-of-the-year school exams, some are facing standardized tests like Advanced Placement exams. These tests can help students and their families save on college tuition costs or even reduce the time the students spend in college. Rated on a 1-5 scale, they require extensive preparation during an academic year. However, the rewards can be substantial. Many colleges award credit for scores of 3 or above. Diligent, capable students can enroll in AP courses throughout high school. If they perform well, they have a number of options. They can enter college with a semester or more of college credits; they can re-take the college course with a solid background in the material; they may choose to skip entry level courses and move into more advanced levels. However, colleges and universities differ in their AP policies, so students and parents should do some research prior to applying.

Unfortunately many students are aware of yet another set of tests that some colleges require. Aside from SAT’s and ACT’s selective colleges and universities expect to receive scores from at least two SAT Subject Tests. Students should check the admission requirements of universities they are considering. The Common Application lists the tests required for the colleges that accept that form. Students can also research admission requirements on each university’s website.

These tests include specific history, science, math, language and English topics. The earlier students know about these tests, the easier it will be for them to decide which ones to take. The best time to sit for one of these exams is immediately following completion of the course. Thus, thinking about college should begin as early as freshman year. While most students haven’t selected college choices at that point, taking these exams allows them more options. A ninth grader enrolled in a physics course can take the Physics SAT at the end of that school year. Taking one or two tests per year provides opportunity and reduces stress. The tests are an hour long, so students can take two or three at one sitting. But waiting until the end of junior year puts a great deal of pressure on students who may face the prospect of taking subject tests for which they are not prepared. Or they already be overburdened with other exams. Think ahead for maximum results

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