SAT and ACT Time: Tips for Surviving Junior Year

Tips for Surviving Junior Year

Junior year can seem scary if you don’t know what’s ahead. Use these tips to help navigate (and thrive) through this crucial year of high school!

1. Take practice SATs and ACTs.

The best advice I have for taking the SATs is practice. Becoming familiar with the test is the most important thing you can do to master it. Take practice tests over the summer or on weekends until you are comfortable with the process and timing.

2. Study every day.

I know how hard it is to force yourself to study for the SATs when you already have no free time. However, there are easy and quick ways to study that are not at all time consuming. I tried to force myself to study for at least 15 minutes every day—it isn’t a lot if you are motivated. I put a bowl of vocabulary words on the dinner table and my mom quizzed me 5-6 words while we ate. I also really liked doing WilsonDailyPrep because it didn’t take very long at all. Sometimes I would set a timer for 15 minutes and go through a practice test section. I didn’t worry about timing, even if I only got through three problems (and went over the solutions), it was still good practice.

3. Take advantage of your weekends.

It’s tempting to just veg on weekends, but it’s so important to use that time wisely. I always set aside Sunday as a major work day. I had practice on Saturday mornings and I would be exhausted for hours afterwards. I usually let Saturday be a day of nearly complete rest (sometimes I did something mundane or easy like reading or a worksheet) and then powered through my work on Sunday. Having that one day of relaxation worked for me; I recommend finding a routine that works with your athletic/extracurricular schedule. You don’t want to wear yourself out, but at the same time, you need to take advantage of the time you’re given.

4. Stay on top of your classes/homework.

Don’t let yourself fall behind on any classes—even if they’re supposed to be easy. Keep in touch with your teachers and classmates if you miss class. It sounds obvious, but staying on top of the material is much more important this year, especially if you’re taking APs. Every lesson in an AP class is a potential topic on the AP that you need to be prepared for.

5. Make a plan for standardized test taking.

Look at the test dates for the SAT and the ACT and figure out exactly when you will be taking your tests. Knowing ahead of time what your calendar looks like will help you stay focused. Also, it’s useful to look at the calendar early on in the year because you may have extracurricular activities that conflict with testing dates.

6. Study for APs early and often.

Start studying for APs early. There is no such thing as starting too early. I recommend doing some sort of review of the first semester over winter break, maybe even create a first semester study guide. You will forget topics very quickly and you’ll thank yourself when APs roll around that you already have something to go off of from first semester material. Organization is key; take good notes, make flashcards, and SAVE EVERYTHING. You’ll want those tests later to study off of.

7. Start looking at colleges.

Set some realistic goals. Do a little research and figure out what sorts of colleges you want to look at. You’ve got a lot of time still, so don’t stress out about it, but you want to start forming some ideas.

8. Hydrate!

The number one thing that allowed me to stay up late and keep working was a steady dose of H2O. I swear it works better than coffee. You’ll have more energy and you’ll feel healthier. If you take only one piece of advice from this article take this one. Drink water!

Junior year is only as stressful as you let it be. Take it from someone who took four AP/honors classes (and had more than one 3:00 am panic attack). Stay organized and focused, and you will survive this. Just remember, your senior year is right around the corner.

–Caroline Vexler, rising senior (class of ’13)

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