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Articles / Applying to College / SATs for Sophomores?

Sept. 5, 2003

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.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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