By Johnny Jackson
High school upperclassmen will fill area classrooms Saturday, hoping to test well on college-entrance exams.
Spring is an optimal time for high school pupils to begin preparing for their post-secondary careers, according to Joan Prisk, lead counselor at Locust Grove High School.
Students and parents, she said, should begin planning for post-secondary education early in high school, in order to give students the best opportunities to reach their post-secondary goals.
"We encourage our juniors to take the SAT and ACT exams in April or May of their junior years," Prisk said.
She noted that the two exams measure student abilities differently. She said the SAT measures a student's potential success in college, while the ACT tests what students already have learned.
"So, we encourage the students to take both the SAT and the ACT, because there is no indicator that says the students would do better on one test versus the other," she said. "And one student may score better on one exam, compared to the other."
Students may be best served on the college-entrance exams by simply taking the available practice exams, she added.
"As counselors, we go into the students' classroom periodically throughout the year and tell students about the resources that are available to them," Prisk said. "We always recommend practice tests available at the web sites."
The College Board administers the SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, and provides online practice exams on its web site. ACT, Inc., or American College Testing, also posts interactive practice exams for the ACT on its web site.
Sophomores in the Henry County school system are allowed to take the PSAT and the PLAN, preliminary exams to the SAT and ACT, respectively. Prisk said the state pays for the first administration of the PSAT, and the county pays for the first administration of the PLAN.
How students score on the college-entrance exams may weigh heavily on the college admissions process, depending on the schools to which students apply, said Betty Momayezi, recruitment and admissions director at Clayton State University in Morrow.
"Some institutions place a heavy emphasis on these exams," Momayezi said. "Some institutions place equal emphasis on high school grades and the SAT or ACT, and some look at many factors, including class rank and extracurricular involvement as well as the exams.
"It's really important when students and their parents, or guardians, are getting information about college admissions, to make sure they understand each university's specific application process and requirements," she continued.
"At Clayton State University, we look at the high school GPA [grade-point average] in college prep classes and the verbal and math scores on either the SAT or ACT when evaluating a student's application for admission."
There are four basic impressions students should make in the application process, and the first starts in the classroom, said Momayezi.
"Work as hard as you can in high school," she said. "Grades are not given by teachers, they are earned by students. When students earn higher grades that tells us in the admissions office that you have the academic foundation to be successful in college."
Momayezi advises students not to wait to take the SAT or ACT college-entrance exam until their senior year in high school.
"Taking the test in your junior year will [allow] time to re-test, if you don't actually demonstrate your capabilities the first time," she said. "And it's important to actually study for the exam. Don't think, 'let me just see what it is like.'"
Researching the top five to 10 institutions of interest early in a student's high school career will afford them time to get familiar with, and prepared to meet, admissions requirements. Then, when the time comes, she added, students should apply early and by the deadlines.
On the net:
College Board: www.CollegeBoard.com
USA Test Prep: www.USATestPrep.com
Georgia College 411: www.GACollege411.org