Standardized Testing For College – CHAMPS Recommended Plan
Standardized testing for college admissions is a very important component of your college planning, and is not to be taken lightly! Simply stated, while GPA and curriculum choice are the most important aspects of any college application, submission of SAT and/or ACT test scores is almost always required, and it can easily make or break your best-laid plans. That said, the following testing plan is one that the College Advising office at CHAMPS strongly advocates, and encourages you to consider adopting.
We believe it's best (in most cases) for students to take standardized testing for college admissions no earlier than January of the junior year, as they're still developing in terms of academic skills and achievement.
JUNIORS! (and Seniors, see info below, but it’s recommended that you also continue reading here) –
1. Later in the fall semester (start checking after Thanksgiving), it will become possible to start registering for test dates in your spring semester. First, please go to www.collegeboard.com and sign up for an account (students and parents may have their own accounts). This website is Control Central for many college admission-related activities, but for now, know that it’s where you sign up for the SAT exams. Please sign up for an early spring sitting of the SAT Reasoning Test (formerly known as the SAT I, and also referred to as just the “SAT.”). Choose either the January or March testing date at the school site of your choice. We recommend taking the test at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City/North Hollywood, as it’s always one site that is particularly well organized and expertly run on any given test day.
2. Next, go to www.actstudent.org. (The ACT is administered by a different company – ETS.) Sign up for the February or April test date of the ACT PLUS WRITING (and not just the ACT!). After you receive your scores from both your first SAT and ACT sittings, we will compare them and decide which one of these two roads you will take. Some students do better on the ACT than the SAT and vice versa. Colleges don’t care which one you submit to them. The SAT has been heavily marketed on both coasts, yet the ACT is better known within the middle states. Once again, the vast majority of colleges really do have no preference.
3. Sometime around late February, go back to the www.collegeboard.com website and sign up for the May or June sitting of at least two (three are max in a single sitting) SAT Subject Tests (formerly called the SAT II Tests). While they are no longer required for admission to any one of the nine University of California campuses (including UCLA), they are still highly recommended (meaning to us that you’ll be more competitive if you take them and do well). Also, they are still required by a handful of very selective colleges and universities, such as those in the Ivy League. You can skip this step if you do not plan to apply to the U.C. or the very highest-end colleges in terms of selectivity.The (SAT) Subject Tests are not required by the 23-campus California State University system (including CSU Northridge) or the majority of other colleges and universities. Note that you can’t take the SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject Tests on the same day, so plan accordingly.
4. After deciding which test you are best suited to taking (based on earlier results), sign up for the June 2014 sittings of either the SAT Reasoning or the ACT Plus Writing. Statistics show that most students produce better results on repeated sittings. After those scores are obtained, you will make the decision as to whether you’re happy with them, or will elect to engage in test prep over the summer months. If you do wish to retake any of the above-referenced tests – SAT Reasoning, SAT Subject Tests, ACT Plus Writing – you will sign up for the remaining qualifying dates, which will occur in September, October, November and/or December. ACT and SAT tests never fall on the same day. By the way, one great-and-free test prep site is www.number2.com.
SENIORS! Don't despair if you've not followed the above-outlined plan. It would be a lot less harrowing for you if you'd followed the juniors' plan when you were at that stage, but don’t worry, you're still on the game board. Just go right now to the two sites as instructed above, and sign up for the next available test date. Be advised that the December sitting is the very last one you can take in order to be considered for admission at most colleges and universities. We recommend that you take any date but the December ones, because there are a very few schools (such as CSU-East Bay) who won't accept scores any later than the November sitting. That said, we're estimating that about 98% of the colleges will accept December sittings.