One of our main goals at TKG is to make the process of applying to college less stressful. We don’t like it when things are left unclear, and SAT 2 requirements often fall under that category.
Some background information on SAT II’s: it’s true that many colleges are weeding these out of the application process, but not ALL colleges are weeding them out. TKG students take at least two SAT2s. Generally speaking, throughout the course of your high school career you should take 1-2 in the STEM field and 1-2 in the humanities. We always say that it’s better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them.
A lot of kids think of the SAT IIs as the ‘chill’ test, the one they can put off until senior year when they’re over the hump with everything else. We’re sorry to say, but we advise against putting off the SAT IIs. Or putting off anything. It was Ben Franklin who said, “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” and I walked by that quotation etched in stone too many times at Penn to not take his advice. So now we're passing his wisdom to you: get the SAT IIs out of the way.
It’s April of your junior year. The sun has come out. Your classmates are planning the next all-school walkout, and you are probably using all of your strength to focus in history class for just a few more weeks so you don’t totally bomb the question about the Teapot Dome Scandal on your final exam. April also means that if you haven’t started thinking about the college process, you’re late to the game.
There are certain tests that are required in order to apply to some colleges. You may know these as your ACT and SAT. In addition to these more general tests that test your understanding of reading, writing, and math, there are SAT Subject Tests that are offered in specific topics. Not all schools require them in the application process. So, should you take the SAT II Subject Tests?
Imagine you are a little kid again and your parents tell you that if you took out the trash every day for a week, you can get a new toy. You’re probably going to want to demonstrate your compliance by alerting them, somehow, to your success every time you complete the chore. Perhaps you have a chart with gold stars, or you walk them over to the newly-emptied trash can each day, or maybe you just yell across the house as the door slams behind you, “IT’S WEDNESDAY AND I’M TAKING OUT THE TRASH AGAIN.” What you don’t do is take out every piece of trash, put each one on your parents’ desk so they can see, put the trash back in the bag, and then take the bag outside.
We know--you have dozens of deadlines that you’re struggling to balance during this process. You have to get all of your forms in on time, write your essays, and on top of everything, you have to continue to exceed in school. One deadline that trips most people up is when to submit standardized test scores. We know you’re short on time, so here we are:
It’s the beginning of second semester junior year and it’s starting to seem real. The deadlines are in sight, test prep is getting revved up to high gear, you’re finalizing the details for school visits over spring break, and the thought of writing your college essay gives you anxiety. It’s completely understandable that by this time of the year you’re feeling exhausted, and as a parent you might be inclined to give your child breaks from the intense studying and preparation. It’s important to remember that this process is a marathon, not a sprint, which means you need to pace yourself but not fully stop. We want to simplify one of the most important college application items by giving you a testing schedule.
We know freshmen year sounds too early to begin the college process. You (or your child) just finished middle school, you’ve just started high school, and already it’s overwhelming. There’s no time for adjusting because you’re thrown right in and the prospect of taking on more than you’re already doing seems unreasonable. We hear you. But, there are small things you can (and should!) do during 9th grade. Remember that the college process is a marathon, not a sprint, and colleges will look at what you did 9th grade, even if it’s not weighted as heavily as what you do your junior year. This doesn’t mean you have to cure cancer or start a sustainable agriculture program, but you do have to fill your time with something.
There are a few ways to answer this question. The general advice we give is that you should take as many tests as you can in the subjects you excel in. If you feel comfortable you should take at least one humanities SAT II and one STEM SAT II. Of course there are always students who take two humanities or two STEM tests and still gain admission to top tier schools, but generally it’s a good idea to have one of each.
It was her summer going into senior year and Jillian was making her college list. She considered location, school spirit, which programs best fit her intended major, and whether or not they were on the common app, but it never crossed her mind to see if they required SAT subject tests, or SAT IIs. Jillian started filling out her apps and decided to apply to Cornell early decision. Jillian loved the idea of being in Ithaca and really pictured herself going to Cornell. When she was perusing the requirements, Jillian realized that she needed to send two SAT II scores to the admissions office. This seemed like it would be an easy task, but Jillian realized that the subjects she would have wanted to take exams for were on topics she had covered years ago.
We recommend taking the SAT/ACT early so that you feel less stress during the college application process. If you find yourself needing to take a last minute exam, it can be hard to figure out which test dates will still be accepted by specific universities for regular decision.
As we mentioned last week, many colleges are moving towards becoming test optional. Liberal arts schools are definitely leading this trend, but some top universities have hopped on board. Here is a list of the top test optional national universities.
Over the past few years, standardized testing has become a heavily contested subject. Although some argue that it is an important data point and equalizer, more and more schools are moving towards becoming test optional. Test optional means students can choose to submit their test scores, and a lack of submissions won’t affect their chances. Here is a list of the top test optional liberal arts schools.
Early decision school applications are due in the beginning in November on either November 1st or November 15th. Early decision has increased in popularity over the past few years as many people believe that there is a significant advantage to applying early. While there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to applying ED, we always want to make sure our students know about the different testing deadlines. Can they take a November SAT and have it count? Do they have to send the scores directly?
The end of junior year can be one of the most stressful times of the college process. Everything begins to pile up at once and friends start to get competitive. You have to stay focused, organized, and do everything you can to alleviate your stress. To that end, here’s a list of the six things you should be doing at the end of the Second Semester to maximize your time and be efficient: