Guide for Rising Juniors and Their Parents 

May 20, 2022

Junior year is a notoriously challenging one. Course work tends to intensify significantly and now that academic rigor has taken on even more weight in the college application process, students cannot afford to lighten their loads. Because junior year is the last full year of grades that college admissions officers will see on students’ college applications, many students see this year as a great opportunity to boost or solidify their academic transcripts. Factor in students’ standardized testing and their extracurricular activities, and there’s a lot to balance.

Summit is here to help. In this guide, we’ll discuss what to expect in your junior year, and we’ll share our recommended timelines for approaching each critical task.

Over the summer:

The summer before junior year is the perfect time to get started on a standardized testing plan. We recommend fitting your diagnostic tests in now. This will give you a chance to determine which test—SAT or ACT—is right for you. Once you take a free diagnostic SAT and ACT, a Summit Program Director will contact you to review your detailed score report. They can help you gauge preparedness and make a recommendation as to how long you need to prep to reach your score goals.

When the school year starts:

Remember that junior year grades are important! Keep a close eye on schoolwork from the very beginning of the year, and if you start to feel that you could use some help, don’t hesitate to reach out. Summit’s expert tutors provide highly customized academic support through a customized program that will work for you.

During the fall:

It can be tempting to want to dedicate all of your time to academics at the start of the school year, but don’t wait too long to get going on your standardized test prep. Sitting for the SAT or ACT is hard enough without feeling like you absolutely have to nail it on your first try. If you start thinking about your testing plan earlier, knowing that you have plenty of time ahead to re-test really helps take the pressure off, and lets you give each testing attempt your very best shot. If you have not already started work with a Summit SAT or ACT tutor, now is a good time to do so.

In October:

Taking the PSAT is a great way to get more practice with taking standardized tests. Your PSAT scores won’t affect your college application as college admissions officers do not see these scores, but students who score high enough on the PSAT may become eligible for a National Merit Scholarship. However, even if you are not aiming to become a National Merit semifinalist or finalist, the PSAT still provides a great opportunity for standardized testing practice. In addition, the PSAT score report that comes back in early December provides useful information about your areas of strength and weaknesses.

Later in the fall:

Check in on your standardized test prep progress. Consider taking a proctored practice test—offered for free as part of your Summit tutoring programs—to try out your new knowledge of test content and strategy in a test-like environment. Feeling pretty good about your preparedness? Sign up for your first test!

At the end of the first semester:

Whether your school does mid-terms or finals in December, make sure you’re dedicating sufficient time to studying. Summit’s academic tutoring is a great option if you need some extra support to be in tip-top shape for exams. 

Over winter break:

Finalize your plans for college visits, and don’t forget to take time to relax! You’ve earned it. Get some rest and make sure you’re refreshed and ready to give it your all in the spring semester. 

At the start of the spring semester:

If you’re taking AP classes, check the exam schedule. Be sure you’re leaving yourself plenty of time to study so you are fully prepared for the May AP exams, because unlike the SAT and the ACT, you only get one shot at them. Also plan a time to take one of Summit’s AP practice exams. Our AP practice tests are a great way to get a better feel for the AP testing experience and the type of questions you will see on the official AP tests in May.

A typical Summit AP exam prep program consists of four to six sessions. Work backward from your AP test date to figure out when you’d need to start meeting with your tutor, if that’s something you plan to do, and contact Summit to get matched with a great tutor and get on their schedule now.

Finalize your SAT and ACT testing and test prep plans. Sit down with your calendar and figure out which spring testing dates work for you. Consider your midterms and finals, extracurricular commitments like games or concerts, and events you want to attend, like prom. Book the test dates that suit your schedule now so you don’t miss out if they fill up.

As the spring semester continues:

If you are planning on taking the SAT or ACT tests this spring, make sure that you have registered for the tests and continue with your test prep plans.  Keep working hard in your classes to maintain your grades.

In May/June:

For students who are enrolled in AP courses, May is exam time! Make sure you know what to expect before test day. If you’ve worked with a Summit tutor to prepare, you will have already worked through practice tests. Review your strategies, and enjoy the confidence that comes with knowing there will be no surprises!

May and June are also popular testing dates for the SAT and ACT. Review the content and strategies that you have been working on to give you confidence that you will hit your potential on these tests.

At the end of the semester:

You’ve worked hard all year—don’t slack off now! Make the time to study thoroughly for your final exams, and plan something fun to celebrate when that final push is behind you. Congratulations on a successful junior year! Only one more year of high school to go!

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