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A cure for junior anxiety: get those tests out of the way this Spring

The process doesn’t begin in earnest for another six months. But the tension is already building for high school juniors and their parents. Where to apply? What will it cost? Early decision, early action, or regular? What tests to take and when? Plan school visits or wait for acceptance letters first? The college admission process is often the most stressful experience in a teen’s life. And parents can either ramp it up, or take appropriate action to ease it.

What can parents do right now? Help your student determine which tests to take when, and then find a prep resource that meets his or her learning style and your budget. The timing is perfect: there are two more school breaks on the horizon (uninterrupted weeks for study!), PSAT scores to mine for performance data, and plenty of test dates to choose from.

Independent learners may prefer to purchase and work through a study guide look no further than the College Board's SAT Study Guide and the Real ACT); those who are motivated in group settings or want a more holistic or strategy-driven approach might want to take a prep class; and self-motivated students with hectic schedules could benefit from one of the many online prep programs available. Most students take either or both tests at least twice, which is doable in the next four months. It makes sense to get this admissions necessity off the to-do list before senior year, when the focus will be on on choosing schools and completing applications.

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