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With classes and final exams wrapping up for the year, rising juniors and seniors should begin to map out a plan for standardized testing.

For students taking the SAT, August 26 is the next available testing date (registration is due by July 28; students receive exam scores by September 15). For rising seniors, this test date can be crucial (especially for student aiming to apply Early Decision). Remember that the September SAT can still be taken, but scores aren’t received until the end of October. That can put students in an unfriendly time crunch.

To help your child put their best foot forward, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Does your child plan on taking any SAT Subject Tests? Remember that Subject Tests are offered on the same date as the SAT. Students can take up to 3 Subject Tests in one sitting. They are each 1 hour and all multiple choice. You can find a full list of subjects here.
  • Don’t forget about the PSAT! Not only will it help you prepare for the SAT, but it can also be used for National Merit Scholarship consideration.
  • Get to know the exam structure. It may sound obvious, but many students go into exam day with a lack of knowledge when it comes to the length, timing and layout of the SAT.
  • Know when and how to use your calculator. No, you can not use a calculator for the entire SAT Math section. 20 questions can be answered with a calculator, 38 must be answered without it.
  • Practice Student-Produced Responses (SPR). As the name suggests, students must solve the question and produce an answer. This can be a bit more time intensive than multiple choice.
  • Have your child take as many timed, full-length practice tests as possible. Try to replicate the testing environment and stick to the time limits. This will help make testing day less stressful.
About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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