As we near the end of the 2020-21 school year, the chaos surrounding testing access has largely subsided. Test cancellations are fewer and announced farther in advance. Test seats are open to those who want them. Students no longer need to trek to out-of-state sites for testing opportunities. And, many schools have begun to offer in-school testing to their own students to ease access and safety issues. All-in-all, while the role of testing in college admissions may still be changing, access to testing has stabilized. Availability should only continue to expand over the coming months.
With opportunities for testing opening up, two groups of students are starting their testing processes. On the one hand, eager sophomores are wondering how to start their preparation processes, much like they have been any other year at this time. But on the other hand are a group of juniors who may not have considered testing and SAT/ACT preparation until now. It’s only fair: the fall was overwhelming as it was and the availability of testing was still very spotty. But, as we emerge from the depths of pandemic, a number juniors are curious to see if their scores could benefit their applications.
Class of 2023:
Our traditional advice to sophomores has been to plan to take diagnostic tests – for SAT, ACT, or both – during the summer before junior year. Then, tutoring programs begin between June, on the most aggressive side, and September or October, which is the more standard approach.
Test timing varies for students in different score ranges. High scorers in advanced classes may want to start early to pursue earlier test dates, like October/December pairings for SAT and ACT. For most students, though, December is a better test get a baseline, for SAT or ACT, and students may follow up with the February ACT or March SAT.
All students should plan your preparation ahead of time while keeping major commitments in mind – don’t schedule your heavy testing and preparation during your busiest season for extracurriculars, for instance, or during the heart of AP exams if you’re taking APs.Try to find a block of time, ideally 12-16 weeks, when other commitments are average or even lighter (if there ever is such a time during junior year!). A spring timeline with test dates in March/May for SAT or April/June for SAT is completely viable if it’s best for a student’s schedule.
Class of 2022:
For current juniors, you have a very different situation on your hands, but you still have a lot of options. To your advantage is that you are testing at the end of the junior year curriculum, when you have maximized your content learning.
For the SAT, you have June, August, and October dates available.
For the ACT, you have June, July, September, and even October.
In either case, you have enough runway for two test dates and the same recommended 12-16 weeks of preparation. Or, if you’re just curious about your scores, you could take our shorter, 6-hour workshop just to get familiar with the essentials of the test. Workshops are also great for juniors who may have tested earlier in the year and want to brush up for a June test date. In short, starting now, you still have the time and flexibility to run whatever type of preparation program you like.
If you need advice on when to begin and how to structure your preparation program, send us an email or call. Good test scores remain assets to college applications and pathways to sometimes substantial scholarships, and we would love to help you achieve them.