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A Couple of Questions re SATs


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I have been looking up stuff but I just need a couple of specific answers.  Is it necessary (or highly recommended) to take the SATs your junior year as well as your senior year?  Do you have to do SAT prep or can you take it cold like I did way back in the day?  From my research, I saw something that said that you can't take a subject test and the regular SAT on the same date?  Anyone know anything about that?  

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I have been looking up stuff but I just need a couple of specific answers.  Is it necessary (or highly recommended) to take the SATs your junior year as well as your senior year?  Do you have to do SAT prep or can you take it cold like I did way back in the day?  From my research, I saw something that said that you can't take a subject test and the regular SAT on the same date?  Anyone know anything about that?  

 

Junior year is better because it gives you a chance to retake it in senior year. Some colleges have application deadlines as early as November; only the September test date in senior year would get results back early enough. You should not plan on taking the SAT senior year only. If the test goes well Jr year, you don't need to retake it.

 

You should do prep. the student needs to be at least familiar with the format and have practiced coding the free response answers - seeing this for the first time on the test will cause the student to lose too much time. he should not need to read any directions but be familiar with them already.

 

The SAT takes 4+ hours. The SAT2s take 1 hour each. you cannot take both on the same day. you can take either the SAT or up to 3 SAT2s on one test date.

 

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I'm not sure it is absolutely necessary to take the SATs the junior year, but I can't think of a reason not to.  If a student waits until senior year, then it may make it difficult to get scores in time for early action deadlines.  If applying regular admission, the student may only get one shot - what if the student is sick or has a bad day?   Since the SAT is a 3+ hour test, you cannot take a subject test on the same date - the times would conflict.  You can either take the SAT or 1 or more subject tests. 

 

I personally would do some prep - it doesn't have to be a ton, but taking it cold can put you at a disadvantage since so many kids are doing extensive prep.  I wouldn't spend big bucks on a class.  I would do an official practice exam, then go over every single question (right answers and wrong answers) to make sure you understand why the answer is right or wrong.  I would probably do a couple more practice exams (not necessarily a whole exam in one sitting) to get a feel for the amount of time you have to spend on each question as well as to identify any weak areas.  Make sure to use the blue book put out by the College Board - not the other test prep companies.

 

I guess it would depend on your goals.  I know that we needed every penny of merit money available in order for college to be doable for us, so getting good scores was very important to us.  My middle son had a bad day for one of his exams - he had a headache he could not shake.  If we had not had him take it again, he would not have benefited from an over 200 point jump from his previous score. 

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I can tell you where we are living now, many dc start taking the SAT their freshman year.  It is not unusual for them to take the SAT multiple times a year beginning in 9th.  All that I know personally IRL use some sort of SAT prep. 

 

We moved where we live now the summer between oldest's 10th and 11th grade years.  Where lived prior to this move, it was customary for dc to take the PSAT 10th grade, SAT 11th grade, and ACT 12th grade.  When we plugged into this new area, we were considered "behind" because dd had not take the SAT at least once before.  And we had her take the SAT the fall of her junior year without any prep.  I wanted a baseline.  We did use an online prep program before she tested again and she retook the SAT the spring of her junior year. 

 

So, IMHO, timing and number of tests depends upon your dc and what his/her goals are for higher education.  Do you need an early score for early admission?  Do you need to overcome test anxiety? Do you want to work on an area of weakness?  Every family and every student is different.  Colleges vary in what they want.  Last college night we attended, more than a couple college admissions people said they don't like to see multiple SAT scores.  Some said it didn't matter how often you take the tests, but they want recent scores. 

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We did the SAT in the junior year following prep in the areas that were weaker on the PSAT.  I can also use the SAT as an achievement test for 11th grade that goes to the county, and I can use it as a placement exam for dual enrollment classes at the community college.  So I paid once, and used it for three purposes in 11th grade.  No brainer.

 

We'll do three SAT II's in June, and then another SAT in October just before the November application deadlines.  I sent the 11th grade scores on (they were excellent, we need to work on the essay part though), and will decide afterwards whether or not to do the October ones.

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How do SAT2 scores work?  Can a student take a subject test more than once? And, if he does, do both scores get reported to the college? Only the most recent? Only the best?

Thanks!

I took the SAT biology subject test twice. Once after freshman year Honors Biology and the second time after taking AP Biology (which was a fairly new course and hadn't existed when I took the first subject test). The colleges saw both scores but I presume they only really cared about the second, higher score. If I had known that I would be taking a higher-level bio course, I wouldn't have bothered taking the test my freshman year. But my teacher's argument (which made sense at the time) was students should take the subject test immediately after finishing the course while the material was still fresh rather than going back later on and having to re-learn the material.

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How do SAT2 scores work?  Can a student take a subject test more than once? And, if he does, do both scores get reported to the college? Only the most recent? Only the best?

Thanks!

 

Some colleges have different policies for SAT score choice as opposed to SAT2 score choice.

 

Off the top of my head, Stanford has a "send all scores" policy for SATs (as per Margaret's link above), but they do allow score choice on SAT2 exams.  So you really need to investigate individual colleges.

 

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It's normal in our area to do the PSAT in 10th and 11th grades (it's only offered in Oct, so schedule carefully), then the SAT at the end of Junior year + beginning of Senior year if not happy with scores.  Some kids prep and others don't.

 

For my guys, I opted to also have them take the ACT in Oct of sophomore and junior year so we could see which test they were likely to do better on.  Two of mine did better on the ACT.  Youngest did equal on both, then chose the SAT as his "favorite."

 

Spring of junior year they took their best test.

 

Fall of senior year oldest retook the ACT as he needed one more point for more scholarship $$.  He got it, so it was worth his time.  Neither of my others took tests senior year.  It was nice not having to with college apps, etc, taking up a bit of time.

 

I also feel prep is worth it.  Mine did it totally on their own.  Many college scholarships will be based upon those scores.  It can pay off well.

 

If doing SAT Subject tests, it's definitely best to do them right after finishing a course - and again - pick up a prep book to be certain all topics were covered decently.

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FWIW-Most of the colleges/universities we've been researching recommend an SAT/ACT in both spring of Junior Year and Fall of Senior year.  With the new attitude toward super scoring there seems to be little down side.

 

Subject tests and SAT cannot be taken on the same day.  They happen at the same time.  Also be sure to check the CB web site, some SAT Subject tests are only given on select testing dates.

 

I think that prep can be useful.  Especially if the student isn't used to taking standardized tests.  Do note that Khan Academy has solutions videos for the official prep guide.

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If a student is applying to a competitive summer program and would benefit from a set of scores then it would be good to have them in hand before those apps open. So for example for students who want to go to service academy summer seminars having scores by Dec of Junior year can help.

 

Another scheduling thought is that SAT subject tests might be best for right after concluding the class. So June might be a target month. However some of the foreign language tests are offered only a few times each year or offer listening only once. You can only do SAT reasoning OR subject tests not both on any given test day.

 

Finally I've heard of folks who don't want to use the Late spring dates because the students are focused on AP review and testing.

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I think we did it differently each time, and each scenario seemed to work out fine for us.  However, I think TYPICALLY in our area, students would take it once in their junior year with the option of taking it again later in the year, or early in their senior year.

 

My son took the SAT four times starting in his junior year and completing them in his senior year (with a private tutor over the summer) because he was shooting for a certain score.  A couple daughters took one SAT and one ACT (I think one at the end of their junior year and the other at the beginning of their senior year), and sent the scores of whichever they did the best in.  (Interestingly, they got equivalent scores on both tests.)  They both worked through a book on their own.

 

My last daughter took the SAT in the spring of her senior year and the ACT a week after high school graduation.  She only prepared for the math section (what she figured she'd need the most help in).  She scored quite a bit better on the ACT so she used that score.

 

Keep in mind that all of my children took a gap year, so taking the test in their senior year wasn't such a big deal.  Also, they didn't do any subject tests.

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