College Plan Timeline:

When you receive your test scores, schedule a meeting with your counselor to talk about your strengths and weaknesses and to discuss test prep options for next year.

Become comfortable in testing environments and gauge your skills by taking the PSAT and PLAN.

Let’s break this down into parts that don’t involve acronym upon acronym:


The preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a test that readies students for the SAT and qualifies students for National Merit Scholarships. Students normally take the PSAT in October of their junior year but many 10th graders take it as well.


The PLAN is like the PSAT except it readies students for the ACT, has no scholarship affiliation and is usually taken by 10th graders.

Now that we have the definitions out of the way, let’s take a look at your options when it comes to taking these college prep tests. Discuss these options with your counselor and your parents before you carve anything in stone.

Option 1: Take them both

Many students decide to take both tests their sophomore year. While this is typical PLAN timing, taking the PSAT your sophomore year can serve as extra SAT practice and give you two chances to qualify for National Merit Scholarships.

Option 2: Take the PSAT only

If you know you aren’t going to take the ACT (fact: many students find the ACT to be easier than the SAT since it includes science sections), you can decide to take the PSAT to practice for next year’s PSAT and the SAT down the line. You can find free PSAT prep online or at your counselor’s office.

Option 3: Take the PLAN only

If you and your counselor decide you’re not ready for the PSAT just yet, you can take the PLAN in the fall (it doesn’t have a designated test date) as practice for the ACT. You’ll receive a detailed report on your strengths and weaknesses so you can be better prepared to demolish the ACT your junior year.

Unfortunately, since you’re a college prep all-star, taking no tests this year isn’t really an option. Sorry! Small price to pay for a chance to get into a great school.

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Related Tools and Checklists

High School Sophomore Timeline and Checklist
High School Junior Timeline and Checklist

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

SAT or ACT: Which Should You Take?
SAT Test Prep Courses: What Will They Do For Your Score?
SAT and ACT Test Dates and Deadlines: 2013-2014
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