Chesterfield Learning Center-Reading tutoring, math tutoring, reading comprehension, SAT Prep, ACT Prep, homework help

The College Prep Timeline

9th GRADE

October
Some schools give the PSAT (practice SAT) and/or PLAN (practice ACT) to students in ninth grade. There is no preparation (other than working with a tutor or consistently doing schoolwork) necessary for these tests.

May and June
Possibly take SAT Subject Tests (for students in grades 9-12 at the end of a history or science course), required by many competitive colleges.

Summer Before 10th Grade
Have enriching camp, travel, or community service experiences, read, keep a journal of summer experiences (this can come in handy when planning college application essays two summers later) and learn some new vocabulary word–close any academic gaps.

 

10th GRADE

October
Most schools give the PSAT (practice SAT) and/or PLAN (practice ACT) to students in tenth grade. There is no preparation (other than working with a tutor or consistently doing schoolwork) necessary for these tests.

December/January
PSAT and PLAN scores are reported to schools, which give each student his/her score reports.

May and June
Possibly take SAT Subject Tests (for students in grades 9-12 at the end of a history or science course), required by many competitive colleges. Same dates as SAT.

Summer Before 11th Grade 
More enriching experiences such as reading, keeping a summer experiences journal and closing academic gaps.

Begin SAT and/or ACT prep.

If tenth-grade PSAT scores were at least 60 or above on each section—that is, high enough to approach National Merit Scholar level—consider preparing for the eleventh-grade PSAT, which is used as the National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test.

11th GRADE

Fall Semester

SAT and/or ACT prep.
SATs in September, October, and December are occasionally taken by juniors (but mostly by seniors).
ACTs in October and December are occasionally taken by juniors (but mostly by seniors). 

October
PSAT (used as both practice for the SAT and as the National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test).

December
PSAT scores are reported to schools, which give each student his/her score reports. A score in the 99th percentile makes students eligible for National Merit Scholar finalist, semifinalist, or commended status. (See http://www.nationalmerit.org/student_guide.pdf for more information.)

Chesterfield County Juniors may take the ACT and/or SAT. Some college counselors recommend this because it gives children a clear baseline score and a lot of time to prepare in depth for the spring tests. Others believe that since there are many seniors taking this test, it may not be the best time for juniors because they will be scored against students who are a full year older than they are.

Spring Semester
Students should take the SAT and/or ACT (most opt for once or twice during this semester).

SAT offered in January, March, May, and June.
ACT offered in February, April, and June.

May and June

Possibly take SAT Subject Tests (for students in grades 9-12 at the end of a history or science course), required by many competitive colleges. Same dates as SAT.

Summer Before 12th Grade
Students are strongly urged to write a college application essay during the summer before their senior year and to seek the help of an expert editor.

The college essay is a critical part of the application process: it’s an opportunity for the university to get to know your child personally as well as intellectually, a way for your child to differentiate him/herself from other applicants.

If possible, students should use the valuable time afforded by the summer to complete an essay (or, if summer is impossible, they should plan to get started as soon as fall semester begins). Planning in advance ensures that each student produces a thoughtful piece that accurately reflects his or her character, beliefs, interests, and abilities.

We generally suggest that students work on one essay that will become the central narrative work of their many applications. A good piece can be modified here and there to fit more specific essay questions, if necessary; students seldom need to write more than one central essay if they write a strong, finely tuned piece. Many competitive colleges ask for one or several additional, brief essays specific to the individual school.  (Dr. Martin has helped many students at Chesterfield Learning Center to develop such essays.)

Every summer and fall we offer tutoring to help Midlothian students craft vivid, thoughtful, finely wrought portraits that reveal their unique qualities and insights.

 

Some things to know about the college essay process:

 

Many (but not all) colleges require students to write an essay.

Colleges that ask for essays usually require a single 1-2 page essay (of approximately 500 words); some also ask for several paragraph-length answers. A very few colleges require more than one full-length essay.

The single essay—what one might call the central essay of a student’s application—is most often a brief, highly focused narrative piece on either an assigned topic or “student’s choice.”

These days, many colleges are moving towards asking open-ended questions about students’ experiences and understandings that can be answered in a single essay that fits many different assigned topics—which means students can write their essays before even looking at an application to a specific college. For example, here’s the Common Application essay assignment (see www:commonapp.org), which has remained pretty much the same for the past several years.

12th GRADE

September/October

  • Fill out college applications.
  • Write college essay(s) if not finished over the summer.
  • Ask teachers to fill out recommendation forms.
  • File early decision or early action applications according to school deadlines and procedures.
  • Possibly retake the SAT and/or ACT once or twice (still early enough for most early action/early decision applications).
  • SAT and SAT Subject Tests in October.
  • ACT in September and October.

November/December 

  • Fill out college applications.
  • Write college essay(s) if not finished over the summer.
  • Ask teachers to fill out recommendation forms.
  • File early decision or early action applications according to school deadlines and procedures.
  •  Possibly retake the SAT and/or ACT once or twice (still early enough for most early action/early decision applications).
  •  SAT and SAT Subject Tests in October.
  • ACT in September and October.

 

 

Write college essay(s) if not finished over the summer and have them evaluated by an expert editor.

File regular-decision applications (if necessary).

Possibly retake the SAT and/or ACT once or twice.

 

SAT and SAT Subject Tests in November and December.
ACT in December.