Two items that caught my eye this week should provide a push to juniors who have yet to start thinking about college.

From time to time we’ve posted blogs about early action and early decision.  They aren’t right for everyone, but a recent article in Inside Higher Ed says that EA and ED are growing.  More students are applying EA or ED and schools that haven’t had such a program are setting it up.  Why?  Students who know they want to attend certain schools can have a decision early senior year.  They can enjoy their senior year with no stress about college acceptance.

But the increase in Early Admissions/Early Action is interesting news just as high school juniors are getting a look at their PSAT-NMSQT test scores, released last week according to the College Board.

If looking at those scores gives you your first thoughts about taking a college entrance exam, it’s time to seriously start thinking about college.  Plan to invest time second semester junior year and over the summer, and you’ll be set to apply early senior year—whether for ED/EA, or to your school of choice with rolling admissions.

Action Steps for Juniors

Review Your PSAT Scores

Review your PSAT scores closely and analyze your results.  What are your areas of strength and weakness?  What can you do to improve your skills in those areas?  Formulate a plan.

Which test will you take?  The PSAT-NMSQT test is quite similar to the SAT.  There is no science section, but science-related questions are incorporated in the Writing and Evidence-Based Reading sections.  Science is also worked into the Math test.  The SAT Writing portion is fairly similar to the ACT English test.  However, the SAT Evidence-Based Reading section is longer, and the readings are far more varied than on the ACT.  If you’ve taken the PSAT, you’ll have a feel for the SAT.

Students in Wisconsin are often given the Explore or other tests in middle and high school which are more like the ACT.  All Wisconsin juniors take an ACT test in February which can be used for college admissions.  (It is also used by the State of Wisconsin).

Sign Up for Your Test of Choice and Start to Prepare

Making the decision about which test to take should be done by Christmas.  Then, sign up for the February 10 ACT or the March 10 SAT and start preparing.  You will still have time to take either test again if you test early rather than later junior year.  The ACT is also offered April 14 and June 9; the SAT will be May 5 and June 2.  Those later dates are busy times, near AP tests and end of the school year activities, which is another reason to start early.

In addition, both the ACT and SAT will offer tests in the summer of 2018—the SAT is August 25 and the ACT is July 14.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting until then to test for the first time.  As noted early in this article, schools that are accepting applications for Early Decision and Early Action will have deadlines as early as November 1 and testing should be complete long before then!

As busy as junior year already seems, carve out the time to concentrate on test preparation during the winter.  Be sure your test, when you take it, shows your very best!  For more info on test preparation at Knowledge Edge, check out our website, or contact us at