College Prep Checklists For High Schoolers


This blog includes free college prep checklists to help your child stay on track each year of high school.

Since colleges look at grades and accomplishments from every year of high school, students shouldn’t wait until junior or senior year to start thinking about college admissions.

That doesn’t mean freshmen need to start studying for the SAT or ACT right away! So what should students be doing each year of high school to make sure they’re ready when the time comes to submit their college applications?

Grab your Free College Prep Checklists

We’re making it easy to help your high school student stay on track during their freshman through senior years.

Just let us know which grade your child is in and we’ll send you a handy one-page college prep checklist that lists suggestions and goals for each year of high school.

Download Free College Prep Checklists

Keep your child’s college prep checklist handy and be sure to bookmark this page to come back next year for their next checklist!

College Prep FAQs

How should I know if my child should take the SAT or ACT?

One of the biggest questions parents have about test prep is which test their students should take and when they should begin preparing.

One of the best ways to start prepping for the SAT or ACT is to take a practice test. Did you know Educational Connections offers virtual, proctored mock tests on Saturday mornings? Click here to learn more about our mock tests and to register.

A mock test will provide a baseline score to help your child discover their strengths and weaknesses and determine which test they should focus on (SAT or ACT).

When should my child take the test?

Research shows that most students achieve their best score in the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. We suspect it’s because they’re older, they’re more mature, and they have more curriculum under their belt. 

With that in mind, it really is okay to take a fall test. But you want to consider if your child will have the capacity to test again in the late winter or spring.

If you’re not sure which dates are best for your child, we can help! Click here to schedule a chat with our test prep manager.

How many times should my child take the test?

We recommend pairing test dates, which means planning for two test dates.  After the first test, the student can identify areas of weakness. Then, they can practice improving their score in those areas on the second attempt. This also allows for “superscoring.”

What is the best way to prepare for the SAT or ACT?

There are three main ways to prepare for the SAT or ACT; self-study, group classes, and one-to-one prep.

Students who are highly disciplined (and close to their desired score) may find success studying independently with workbooks or free prep materials, like Khan Academy.

Group ACT or SAT classes can be a good, more economical option for students who score fairly average and evenly on the test.

One-to-one test prep offers customized private sessions. We feel this approach produces the best results and is, therefore, all that we offer. We are so confident in our one-to-one sessions that our test prep packages come with a score increase guarantee.

Should my child take both the SAT and ACT, or should they focus on one test?

To optimize scores, we recommend that students should prepare for and take either the ACT or SAT, not both. Every college in America now accepts both tests.

We can help your child decide which test is best for them by looking at their PSAT score report or mock test results.

Watch our parent workshop here: SAT or ACT? Navigating the New Roadmap to College.

When will the SAT and ACT tests be held in 2022?

Click here to learn more about the ACT and SAT, including the differences between the tests, when the tests will be held this year, and when your child should start preparing.

With so many colleges going test-optional, should my child still plan to take college entrance exams?

At the start of the pandemic, many colleges joined the test-optional movement and stopped requiring SAT and ACT test scores with applications. It’s a trend that continues. But just because a school is test-optional doesn’t mean your child should skip taking the tests.

Click here to read more about why submitting a test score to a test-optional school could increase your child’s chances of admission.

Since many colleges are now seeing a record number of applicants, how can my child stand out?

Getting into college has become more competitive during Covid and the test-optional movement, as many admissions offices report getting more applications than ever before.

In this competitive environment, the best way for your child to stand out is to keep their grades up in high school and prepare for and take the SAT or ACT.

At Educational Connections, we have an expert team of subject tutors, test prep tutors, and college admission coaches ready to help your child on their journey to college.

Let’s discuss all the ways your child will thrive through individualized tutoring or coaching: