SAT/ACT Testing: Planning Your Timing

Welcome back! I hope everyone has successfully reintegrated into school as we look forward to another beautiful fall season in New England.

As junior year begins, it is important to plan out a testing timeline so that the SAT/ACT testing process can be as stress-free as possible. Here we will look at the test date options for SAT and ACT, and we will discuss who would likely use which dates.

The SAT is given in the following months: August, October, November, December, March, May, and June.

The August, October, and November dates are mostly for seniors and junior athletic recruits. August and October scores can be used for all early decision applications; November scores can be used for ED II and regular decision applications (December can also be used for regular decision). For most juniors, these dates are too early in the cycle, as most students will not have learned quite enough in school yet to maximize their scores. High-achieving juniors may choose to test on one of these dates, however.

For most students, the best options for a first SAT are December or March. Based on that, the best options for a second SAT are in March or May. The June date is used by many student for Subject Tests, and students cannot take the regular SAT and the Subject Tests on the same date.

So, most juniors should be looking at a December/March or March/May timeline, with fall dates available as backups.

The ACT, on the other hand, is offered in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July (the July date is new this year).

For the ACT, the September and October dates are mostly for seniors and junior athletic recruits. Most juniors should likely test for the first time in December or February. That said, the ACT is heavily curriculum-based, especially in math and science, so most students will do better on the test as they progress further into junior year. Thus, the best dates to maximize one’s score are probably April or June, with the fall dates again available as a backup.

A final thing to consider is the TIR (Test Information Release) options offered by each test. TIR allows students to order a copy of the test they took, along with their answers, so that they can review the exact problems that they got wrong. For the SAT, this service is offered in October, March, and May; for the ACT, the service is offered in December, April, and June. TIR is a great resource, so you will want to sign up for at least one test that offers this service.

As always, let us know if you have any questions; we’re happy to help!

-Ben

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