If you’re in 11th grade, you have a lot going on. That’s just a fact. And we totally get it. Not only are you probably ramping up your coursework including AP® classes, but you’re also more involved in your extracurricular activities, maybe have a part-time job, and are responsible for other commitments among your family and friends. We can hear you now, “Please don’t add one more thing to my list of to-dos!”

    Why You Should Finish Testing in The 11th Grade

Here’s a secret: We think you should finish testing in 11th grade, but not because we want you to be an overachiever. And we don’t want you to stay way too busy to get the sleep or fun you need. We want you to be able to do your best, achieve your goals, and still live with balance. To do that, you need to plan ahead. Then you can finish what you need to do, feel proud of your work, and still have room to breathe. Here’s how we think finishing all your SAT® and ACT® testing in 11th grade can help.

    It takes stress out of choosing colleges.

How much time do you have to prepare for and take the SAT® and ACT® test now? Be realistic, but plan for two attempts. If you have to move some extracurricular commitments, or readjust a part-time job, it will be worth it just for the reduction of your stress level next year. If you have taken the national tests a few times by the end of 11th grade, you will already have a good idea where your scores stand and can get a head start on the work of deciding where to apply for college.

Think about it: Why make one of the most exciting years of your life a big, stressful rush? By looking at college requirements and statistics compared with your scores now, you can go ahead and make a list of dream schools (wildest heart’s desire), match schools (your most logical matches), and safety schools (where you’d still be happy to study should all else fail). In other words, you will already know where you can apply, and in 12th grade, you can concentrate your energy on finishing well and applying to college.

    You can apply for schools early.

“Early Action” and “Early Decision” could be a good option to consider, but you may not be ready, and they’re not for everyone. But whether or not that’s the path for you, it still benefits you to apply early. Beat the rush. College admission reps are reading fewer applications and will be able to give you a more thorough review. If you already have a solid college list, you can work on applications and essays as soon as they open in July or August and submit them by October 1. This process takes lots of time and effort (as you have probably seen from siblings or older friends), and you’ll need the time and space to focus on completing them. In all of our experience at KD College Prep, no one has ever regretted finishing testing early. We hear a lot of people saying how glad they are they did it, but never that it wasn’t 100 percent worth it come senior year.

    You can apply for scholarships.

This is really going to help you out, and your parents are really going to appreciate it. Scholarships at some colleges are awarded automatically based on grades and test scores. Having your testing completed means you know what you already qualify for and if you should test again for more scholarship money. You can also get help from your school and online resources to do research on scholarships you might never hear of if you don’t have the time to look. Some require essays and applications, for which you’ll now have more time to complete. And if you get this whole process rolling early, as you hear back from people about whether you’ve gotten the scholarships you hoped for, you’re not stuck with the dilemma of running out of time if you need to reapply or improve your scores.

    You’ll have more time for other things.

If you finish testing early, the 12th grade will be less stressful, plain and simple. Maybe you can even pick back up on some of those other commitments you had to drop. 12th grade might be the time to try out for a lead role in the spring musical or get your grade up in economics.

Then again, research shows that one of the best things you can do for your health during these years is to sleep and enjoy non-screen free time (backyard pool party, anyone?). Life can feel like a crazy rush and it can be addictive. But it’s better to give yourself as much room as you can to enjoy each phase of life and to learn the other “extracurricular” stuff: character, relationships, decision-making… and maybe even how to cook or do your own laundry! Planning ahead and giving yourself extra time in the senior year will pay off through college and beyond. We guarantee it.