Junior year is ACT crunch time. This is the year you’ll do the most studying for the ACT and finally take the test. To start the year in a good place, set some time aside for test prep the summer before your junior year. We recommend you take the ACT your junior year, with the latest and last time you take it being late summer or early fall of your senior year.
It’s Go Time: Creating a Study Plan for the ACT
Since you’ve been looking ahead to the ACT during your freshman and sophomore years, you should have a good idea of how you perform as a test-taker and of your baseline score on the ACT. Armed with this knowledge, you can create an effective study plan that will get you to your goal ACT score.
A good analogy for preparing for the ACT is preparing for a race. Everyone needs to prepare – but some may need to prepare more than others. Let’s say you are fairly fit, or a pretty good student. If this is you, then completing a prep course like The Olive Book should “train” you enough to give you a significant score increase.
However, if you are looking for a score increase analogous to going from running one mile to running 26.2 miles, then you probably have some content deficits that you will need to address. This will take additional time and attention, and you will need to train quite a bit harder. You need to complete a course like The Olive Book, as well as take a few practice tests and address the specific gaps in your knowledge.
Everyone should take one full-length practice test before you take the real ACT. Would you do some interval training but never run the full distance before the race? Probably not! You would want to see how your training is going and see if you are hitting your goals. Similarly, you should take a practice test either halfway or two-thirds of the way through your ACT prep to see if you are getting closer to your goal ACT score.
When to Take the ACT
You will still have to do some practice during the year, but, by laying the foundation and working through the concepts you struggle with the most during the summer, you should be in good shape to take the test for the first time in the winter of your junior year. Then you can take it again in April, if you need to. This saves the June, July, and fall tests your senior year as back up exam dates if you do not earn your goal score on the first two test dates.
Start Your College Research
While you are preparing for the ACT over the summer, during the year, and in between taking the tests, you also want to start researching universities. Looking at schools and finding some that you are interested in attending is a great way to stay motivated through the test prep process. This will also help you get a sense of what goal you should set for your scores, as you take note of higher and lower median ACT scores of schools you are interested in.
Starting your college research junior year will help you when the college application cycle rolls around your senior year. You’ll have a leg-up knowing what schools you want to apply to and what you need to get in!
Next up: How to Study for the ACT Senior Year