There are a couple of good news items to share with you this month. While 2020-2021 may be a bit different than a typical school year, given our remote and masked classrooms, I have heard some good things about what is opening up for students this fall that I want to share with you.
For juniors, the fall is an important time to dig into activities and develop a plan for taking the SAT or ACT. October is a great month for both charting your standardized testing timeline and jumping into extracurricular activities.
Just the other day, I heard a story about a local high school’s overwhelming support for virtual extracurricular engagement — that is, online clubs. It seems that this school’s Club Coordinator created a video ad that asked students to continue with their clubs via Zoom and to regularly gather together virtually. With a back-to-business attitude and creative flair, the Club Coordinator asked students to continue with their diverse and imaginative extracurricular pursuits.
Well, her video ad hit the jackpot, and emails flooded her inbox. She fielded dozens and dozens of messages and then scheduled individual meetings with each student who had reached out to her. Within days, she had found faculty sponsors and incorporated over thirty new clubs. They spanned all sorts of activities new to the school, including computer programming, gaming, wellness, online tutoring, and even a Save the Coral Reef club. Congratulations to the students for their spirit and to the Club Coordinator for her dedication and hard work. So if you are looking for ways to persevere or to test out a new idea, try reaching out to other students for a brainstorming session.
Another piece of good news is the fact that test centers are opening up, with testing dates occurring with greater regularity and reliability. The College Board is offering administrations of the PSAT in both October and January, with additional spring dates possible. So stay up to date with your school’s plan; your school counselor will have the dates and details related to your junior year PSAT/NMSQT. (Remember that the junior year PSAT is a practice test but is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.)
Fall is a great time to start your prep for the SAT or the ACT. Have you decided which test to take? You’ll want to investigate the differences in the two tests and identify which test is best for you. A tutor can help you make this decision and can continue with the rest of your testing plan: review skills and strategy, take plenty of practice tests, and choose the date of your first official test.
Although we expect many colleges to again be test-optional for the Class of 2022, it’s a good idea to explore taking the test. First, hundreds of colleges are test-optional, yet only a few are test-blind (meaning they will not look at your scores even if you ace the ACT or SAT). So, it’s a good idea to take advantage of any options that can help you — including standardized tests. If you believe that your scores will never match your grades, you’ll likely be able to confidently apply without submitting scores. However, it makes sense to keep your options open and look to take the ACT or SAT at least once this year.
Remember: do not take an official test until you are confident that you are ready. Questions? As always, we are here to help.