Eleventh grade is very important in the college planning process, with standardized testing, defining your college list, connecting with teachers for strong letter of recommendation, and keeping your grades high.
This Fall – This year the college search process really gets going.
Do some early research
Look at these articles Finding a College that you Love and Researching a College to see what is important. Then use Scoir to look at colleges that might be of interest. The website provides good college entrance information, as well as information about what schools offer. Find time for you to check out some of the websites and pick colleges that you are interested in exploring. Reach out to the admissions office and ask them to send you information. Most colleges track all contact that you have with them to determine how interested you are in the school.
Focus on getting the best grades that you can, and getting help where needed
Monitor your grades throughout the year and find ways to keep them high. Talk to teaches when you don’t understand a concept, and ask for extra work at the end of a semester when you grade is a on the edge of a higher one. Showing an interest and communicating with your teacher can make a difference in your grade.
Organize your college information
Set up a filing system on your computer or use file folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials. This will make it easier to locate the specific information you’re looking for.
Try to find time to visit colleges on your days off
Seeing colleges in session is more useful than during the summer. It gives you a chance to see the students and the vibe of the campus.See my article Visiting Colleges. There may be Options for College Visits so check on them. Take a tour and attend the information session. You may also be able to talk to students or sit in on a class which interests you.
Be an active participant
Go to college fairs at your school or other venues, speak with college representatives who visit your high school, like colleges’ Facebook pages after you have enhanced yours, see Colleges Look at your Social Media. Be open-minded as many students change their criteria significantly during this process.
Be prepared by practicing
Please register for them and mark those dates on your calendar. You will need to prepare by taking practice tests and getting comfortable with the material.
This Winter – Stay involved and prepare for standardized tests
Make a difference with your extracurricular activities
Colleges look for consistency and depth in the activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles or starting a new venture and making a commitment is significantly more important than just being a member of an activity. I will be sending out an article on this shortly.
Discuss colleges with family and friends
Have discussions about the colleges you’re interested in and learn more about them. Talk to students about what college life is like, especially if they attend a school you’re interested in. Although it’s important to hear what the admissions staff has to say about a school, it’s also important to get the students’ perspective. Your family and friends can learn about what you want to pursue and you can hear any concerns or suggestions they might have. Also feel free to e-mail me with any questions or information that you need.
Use your summer wisely, plan ahead
Summer employment and internships in fields you’re interested in is ideal and powerful on a college application or resume, but there are many other options, Summer Activities that Give you and Edge, and Summer Activities part 2. Be involved in something that interests you. One needs to start looking into this in the winter as some programs and opportunities have early deadlines.
Next Spring – Take the standardized test at least twice and keep your grades high
Continue to prepare for standardized tests.
Practice makes testing easier, less stressful, and you more successful. Take either the SAT or the ACT at least twice in junior year. If you need SAT subject tests schedule them for June. Know that you can take the ACT or SAT again in the fall of your senior year if you’re unhappy with your scores.
Pick classes for senior year.
Touch base with me before you pick your classes, don’t load up on easy electives. Colleges do review your senior year courses and grades, so challenge yourself and take classes that are in your areas of interest. See this article for more information, How Many AP’s to Take.
Some high schools want you to ask teachers for letters of recommendation before the summer
Teachers and guidance counselors are often asked to write recommendations for lots of students. Consider whom you want to ask now and let them know so they’ll have time to prepare before the fall. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say. Please read this article to get the best letter possible, How to get a Great Recommendation. If you have a coach, activity leader, or a boss who knows you well outside of school and can speak to your accomplishments and character that is also valuable.
Plan campus visits during Spring break
You should plan ahead and sign up for the tours when visiting colleges. Spring break can be a very busy time for colleges, so make sure there is room. You can sign up on-line or call the admissions office. There may be Options for College Visits so check on them.
Make your time productive
Students should be participating in constructive activities during the year, colleges care. If your child has a career goal in mind, see if you can help arrange a day where he or she can “shadow” someone who works in that field.
College consultants are seeing the more popular colleges’ test scores rising each year. This means that the test score that would have gotten you in the previous year may not be enough next year. Also the new SAT test scores are higher than the old SAT scores (inflation).
Please take whichever test you are better at twice during this school year. This will give us a good indication of which colleges sould be on your list. If you are not satisfied with the scores you will be able to retake the test in the fall before early decision and early action dates.
Below are the dates and links to register early so that you can go to the testing center of your choice.
ACT DATES 2019 – 2020
Register at www.ACT.org
Here are the anticipated test dates, registration deadlines, and score release dates for 2019-2020.
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||(Late Fee Required)|
|September 14, 2019||August 16, 2019||August 17-30, 2019|
|October 26, 2019||September 20, 2019||September 21-October 4, 2019|
|December 14, 2019||November 8, 2019||November 9-22, 2019|
|February 8, 2020||January 10, 2020||January 11-17, 2020|
|April 4, 2020||February 28, 2020||February 29-March 13, 2020|
|June 13, 2020||May 8, 2020||May 9-22, 2020|
|July 18, 2020*||June 19, 2020||June 20-26, 2020|
*No test centers are scheduled in California or New York for the July test date.
SAT Test Dates 2019 – 2020 (US)*= Refers to online score release. The first date is when multiple choice scores come out, and the second one is when complete scores are available.
|SAT Date||SAT Subject Tests Available||Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline||Deadline for Changes|
|August 24, 2019||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||July 26, 2019||August 6, 2019 (for mailed registrations)
August 13, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|August 13, 2019|
|October 5, 2019||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||September 6, 2019||September 17, 2019 (for mailed registrations)
September 24, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|September 24, 2019|
|November 2, 2019||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||October 3, 2019||October 15, 2019 (for mailed registrations)
October 22, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|October 22, 2019|
|December 7, 2019||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||November 8, 2019||November 19, 2019 (for mailed registrations)
November 26, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|November 26, 2019|
|March 14, 2020||SAT Subject Tests not offered on this date||February 14, 2020||February 25, 2020 (for mailed registrations)
March 3, 2020 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|March 3, 2020|
|May 2, 2020||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||April 3, 2020||April 14, 2020 (for mailed registrations)
April 21, 2020 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|April 21, 2020|
|June 6, 2020||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||May 8, 2020||May 19, 2020 (for mailed registrations)
May 27, 2020 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|May 27, 2020|
Score Release Dates
Most SAT scores are released about two weeks after test day. June scores take longer, up to six weeks. Find out when scores will be released.
*The late registration deadline is about one week earlier if you are registering by mail.
**Regular SAT only.
Not all Subject Tests are offered on a given date! For example, Languages with Listening are offered only in November. Please be sure to check with the College Board as to what Subject Tests are offered on which dates.
Studies have shown that preparing early for these tests improves your ultimate scores.
Why? Well, preparing early allows for more distributed learning sessions, more contact time, exposure to the material, and more time to take official tests. To understand a concept you need to be able to apply it to other problems that you will be tested on in the future. If you are cramming for an exam you are using memorization. After the test the information may leave your brain. To truly learn you must study at a deeper level. Here are some techniques:
- Pick a Prep Method and Make a Study Plan. Follow through.
- Stay on Schedule. As I outlined, waiting until the last minute means that you are no longer studying – you are memorizing.
- Actively Learn. Studies have shown this to be the most effective way to study. As you read your notes and your text, create exercises for yourself to ensure you are learning the material. Apply it, or discuss it, or try to teach a friend the information.
Testing companies suggest that you prepare for 6 – 8 weeks before taking your first sanctioned test. This makes you more confident, relaxed and capable. Here is information on preparing effectively.
Experts agree that students should take the test three times between junior year and the beginning of senior year. Multiple testing periods may allow for some colleges to Superscore your test. Through repeated testing, there is also a gain in mastery and exposure. You get a different effect from a live sitting vs. a practice test. When you’re in a live test, each time you take it work for a higher score. This reinforces a feeling of accomplishment.
All testing should be finished by October of senior year so that you can take advantage of Early Action and Early Decision application deadlines, which in the admissions process can give you an enormous advantage.
For these reasons I want you to take a timed and scored practice test for both the SAT & ACT this summer. From those we will determine which is the better test for you. Here is the conversion table. If you are better at one test, stick with that exam. If you are the same or close, it is the student’s preference.
If you are taking Algebra 2 in junior year, you should not take your standardized tests until May or June since this material is part of either test. Otherwise, depending on your test scores, we will put together a plan of when to take the tests.
May and June are the best time to take SAT subject tests so that they correlate with your AP classes. Only top-tier colleges are using these scores, however.
In summary, testing is a journey which is best to start early so your results will be positive.
Published by The Chesapeake Family Magazine
By Katie Riley
Last year more than 1.6 million high school students took the SAT, and many hope tutoring will boost their score. But the question is, what type of tutoring is best and is it affordable?
“I’ve had mixed results with SAT prep courses because it really depends on the motivation of the student and which type of tutoring program they choose,” says Cori Dykman, owner of Annapolis College Counseling, a service that helps prepare and guide students through the college process.
Traditional classes like Princeton Review and Kaplan offer several multi-week courses at dozens of area locations, but the class doesn’t come cheap. Course fees start at around $500.
In an effort to make test preparation available to everyone, the College Board recently partnered with Khan Academy to provide free, targeted test prep for students online. The Khan Academy program provides detailed assessments and dozens of sample tests and exercises. It also directs students to an extensive library of video tutorials based on a student’s test results and weaknesses.
“Khan Academy is excellent,” Dykman says. “It’s free and offers great resources. I always tell my students to start there and then maybe consider a private tutoring option after that.”
Private online tutoring is an option that is gaining popularity due to its convenience and personalized service. Companies like Applerouth match students with one-on-one online tutors based on interviews, academic strengths and weaknesses, and test results.
Julia Drooff, a senior at Broadneck High School, began using Applerouth during her junior year after a disappointing score on her SAT subject test.
“I knew that if the SATs were anything like [the subject test], then I would not do well,” Drooff says. Her older sister had already used Applerouth and experienced considerable improvements.
“They matched me up with an amazing tutor who helped me get to the root of my testing anxiety,” Drooff says. She worked with the tutor monthly for a year and half, taking practice tests and attending online tutoring sessions.
“I developed a personal relationship with my tutor, and we would text regularly. Her encouragement did wonders for my confidence,” Drooff says, noting that she saw a significant increase in her scores and was recently accepted by her first choice college.
Whether students choose Khan Academy, traditional courses or private tutoring, experts agree that the best way to prepare is simply through practice.
“The most helpful method out there is to take practice tests,” Dykman says. “Sitting and focusing for three to four hours is exhausting for any student, and practice tests can help with timing, directions and knowing what questions to expect. I tell students to never go into an exam blind. The practice is invaluable.”
What do Colleges Want to See?
The rigor of your schedule and your grades are the most important factors during the review. Colleges take into account what was available to you, how much you challenged yourself by taking challenging courses like AP, honors and IB coursework, and your performance in your curriculum. Colleges want to see the best grades in the hardest classes you can manage. For the other factors please see https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/5-important-elements-colleges-look-for/.
Is an A Grade in a regular class better than a B in an Honors/AP/IB class?
Colleges want confirmation that you’ve challenged yourself. They don’t reward unmotivated or lazy students. Take the harder class and do your best, even if your best is a B. But make use of the resources around you. Stay after school for extra help, find a tutor, use free online study guides, form study groups, talk with your college counseling office – whatever you can do to go for the A! See https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/how-many-aps-to-take-next-year/ .
Do Colleges want Well-Rounded Students?
Most colleges (especially highly selective ones) are not looking for well-rounded students anymore, they’re looking for well-angled ones. Colleges are looking for a well-rounded class, full of unique, especially talented people. Show admissions counselors what you enjoy, have tried, and the impact you have made. Prove that you have depth and consistency in your activities. Don’t join a new group senior year just to pad your resume and “look good” for college. https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/summer-activities-that-give-you-an-edge/ and https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/summer-activities-that-give-you-an-edge-2/
Which Standardized Test do Colleges Prefer, the SAT or the ACT?
Colleges don’t care whether you take the SAT or the ACT. Even Ivy League schools don’t have a preference. As of 2012, the ACT was more popular than the SAT for the first time in history. I will help you find the standardized test that suits you best, then take practice tests and study for it. Don’t waste precious time wavering between the SAT and ACT tests. If you take a standardized test multiple times over multiple sittings, be aware that many schools will super-score the SAT, fewer super-score the ACT. See https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/preparation-for-standardized-tests/ and https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/overcoming-test-anxiety/.
How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?
During our educational consulting sessions we will build a solid college list. Research and visit as many campuses as you can. Every school on your list should be one that you want to attend: fitting your academic, financial, professional and social needs. Most of my students apply to an average of six to eight schools. Your list should include a range of selectivity: 2 – 3 solid schools to which you will most likely be offered admission, 2 – 3 schools that are target schools, and 2 – 3 schools that are a reach for you. Do yourself and your family a favor; don’t get hung up on prestige or a name. Focus on fit and finding the place that will allow for college success. See https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/finding-a-college-that-you-love/.
Will colleges check my social media accounts?
More and more colleges are looking for you online and checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Clean up your social media accounts – especially pictures! No profanity, evidence of drugs or alcohol, cyber-bullying, or unsavory links. Make sure that there isn’t anything on your social networks that is embarrassing. Check all of your accounts! See https://annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/colleges-watch-your-social-media/ .