Preparing for College

SATs for Sophomores?

Question: When should students begin taking SAT's? I am in 10th grade, and many of my friends are taking the SAT's this year, but what's the use? Will the scores go onto my college applications? Shouldn't I just wait until I'm a junior?

Should a soph sit for SATs? Typically, a student's first brush with admission testing begins with the PSAT in the fall of junior year, and most don't tackle the SAT I until that spring. However, a growing number of students are now taking the SAT I's for the first time as sophomores. They want to get a ballpark idea of how they are going to perform on this test and to discover their weak spots while there's still time to improve them.

Colleges will eventually see all of your SAT results, but most count only your highest tests and will recognize that some scores may early ones. If you take the tests in grade 10 and then improve significantly in grade 11 or 12, then the soph scores will be largely disregarded.

You may feel ready to try the SAT I as a sophomore, but--if you're not--that's fine. Nonetheless, you still might want to consider taking a SAT II test this spring. The SAT II's are the subject tests--hour-long exams in areas that range from English and writing to varied foreign languages, history, and sciences. If you are enrolled in any classes this year (e.g., biology or chemistry) that you won't be taking at a higher level before you graduate, you might want to try the SAT II in that subject in the spring. Again, while colleges will see all of your SAT II tests, they usually pay the greatest attention to the three highest scores, so if you don't do well on 10th grade tests, you'll have plenty of time to do better.