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It’s early, but not too early. During the summer after freshman year, rising high school sophomores who are considering college should begin to consider whether they will take the SAT test, ACT test, or both.

In Delaware, that decision is partially made for you. Students are required to take the PSAT and SAT as part of their high school experience. While many high schools in Pennsylvania offer the PSAT, neither the PSAT nor SAT is required for high school graduation in the Keystone State. [UPDATE: This might be changing]

The Pre-ACT and the ACT tests are not required in either state, but is offered optionally at many high schools in both states. Even if you’re going to take the SAT as part of your curriculum in a Delaware high school, you still may also want to investigate whether the ACT test is a good fit for your strengths.

We know that no student wants to spend all summer preparing for standardized tests. But these four small steps taken during the summer after your first year of high school will set you up for success.

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Get an overview.

Come on— these tests are a legendary part of high school. You have to at least be curious! Visit the websites for both the SAT and the ACT. Explore the sample questions and learn about the format, timing, and content of each test.

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Hit the books and try some practice.

College Board offers up to eight full-length practice tests free of charge, and ACT offers ACT Academy for free. Or go old-school and check out two books from the library: one with SAT practice tests and one with ACT practice tests. Or come take a practice test with us—we offer these year-round. The tests are different—for instance, the ACT includes a science section, but the SAT does not. Take one full-length practice exam for each test, and see how each one feels.

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Learn from experience.

Talk with older students or college counselors who have experience with the tests, and learn from their advice. But ignore the myths. Practice matters more than any other strategy, so start to form your practice routines early.

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Partner with parents.

Families should discuss some strategies that will help with test preparation in the future. How about identifying a quiet place to study, or discussing how to build practice time into the household schedule? If you want to get out of the house to focus on study habits, our summer sessions can help.

Each summer of high school will have increasing levels of activities and responsibilities. Why not take some time during your freshman summer—when the load may be a bit lighter—and prepare for what comes next?

Let us know what you’re doing to prepare this summer— and how we can help.

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