Three dreaded letters that do not even stand for anything. Stand for nothing you say, then why is so much emphasis placed on standardized tests? The SATs (or ACTs if you prefer) are certainly one of life’s larger enigmas, but nonetheless significant. Granted, they are becoming less and less important with some colleges not even looking at the writing section, but they are still necessary.
My best advice: study. Take the time to do practice standardized tests, learn vocab, and try to understand what the testers are asking you. The SATs are sometimes more of a mind game than a knowledge game, so be prepared for the tricks and its marathon length. More importantly, be aware that they are not everything. Colleges know that three numbers do not define you and three numbers will not get you in or kick you out.
Although weighty, SATs, classes and academics are not everything. Activities outside the classroom should also be an intricate part of your life. Participate in things that make you happy and from which you learn. You do not need to do everything, but the things that you choose to do should be things that you put time into and in which you find success. Instead of playing three sports in high school, I dedicated a number of seasons of the year to only swimming. I made it a huge part of my life, and I made sure that I excelled at it because it was my chosen pastime. This is not the philosophy for everyone, but finding something that you love and giving yourself to it is always a fabulous way to show off your dedication, abilities and passions.
It is so easy to get sucked into the belief that you have to do things just because you need to fill space on your resume. Colleges can easily spot someone who does things for their resume and someone who does things for themselves. Participate in activities because you love them and they will become so much more meaningful. Colleges will see how much you care and will understand the personality and depth you bring to the table.