What should my child’s SAT/ACT testing timeline look like?

Parents often ask me the best time for their child to take the SAT. I usually counter by advising them to sign their child up for a mock SAT and a mock ACT before deciding which test to move forward with. When a student takes a mock test depends (mostly) on what math class the student is taking that year. If a student takes algebra 2 or pre-calc sophomore year AND is super-high-achieving, I may advise that student to take the SAT as early as August before Junior year, or, if taking the ACT, July before junior year. In that case, the student should take the mock tests in mid-April to see which test is a better fit. If ACT, prep should start immediately after. If SAT, prep should start in June. I’ve had student who took my class score as high as 1550 on the SAT in August before junior year. What a relief it must have been for him to have been finished with testing when most of his peers had not even started to prep!

What if a student’s math is on-grade level, taking algebra 2 as a junior? Since there is quite a bit of algebra 2 on both tests, and even some pre-calc, the earliest I usually recommend these students take the SAT is March of junior year, and ACT April of junior year. In this case, the student should take a mock test of each in November and start prep in December for SAT or January for ACT. This schedule will still allow ample time for students to apply early decision or early action while taking their chosen test 3 times with ample time between tests to prepare.

A student who takes a first SAT in August can take the test again in October and November. A student who takes the ACT in April, can take the test again in June and July. Taking the test multiple times is an advantage because most universities will look at the highest score of each section. These tests are each offered 7 times per year. The SAT is offered in October, November, December, March, May, June, and August. The ACT is offered in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July.

Overall, parents should take advantage of all the different test dates offered and should have their child take the test when the student has a solid 3 months to prepare leading up to the test. So, when is the best time for your child to take it?

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