When Should Students Take the ACT and SAT tests?
As with most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when students should take the ACT and SAT tests. In another blog, I highlighted the test differences for ACT and SAT, but in the question of when students should test, the answers vary greatly.
As a nationally sought-after test prep coach and certified English teacher, I have seen many, different situations in my 22 years in education. I will discuss some of the scenarios and suggest a path for your child.
Late Sophomore for ACT and SAT, 5 Reasons
For most students, I suggest taking both ACT and SAT tests late in the student’s Sophomore year in school. Why this? There are five simple reasons.
- Taking both allows your child to see which he/she prefers.
- The April and June ACT tests offer the TIR (Test Information Release) so your child can see exactly which questions are missed.
- The May SAT test offers the chance to order the test booklet and answers.
- Most students have had the math covered by both tests, so this is a good time to get a baseline score.
- Summer test prep means no competing school work and more hours in the day to devote to studying.
- Recruited athletes will need a score to share with coaches. Saying, “I haven’t tested yet” could raise a red flag with a coach, especially senior year.
Once you have a baseline score, you can create a test prep plan to maximize those scores for scholarships, merit monies, and possible out of state tuition waivers.
Early ACT and SAT Testing
What are some special circumstances that would create the need for an earlier ACT and SAT testing? Ask yourself these questions to see if any apply.
- Is your child a recruited athlete in a sport that recruits early (softball, volleyball, e.g.)? If so, you would want your child to test in the 9th-grade year (out of season) so that you have scores to share with coaches.
- Does your child have test anxiety?
- Will your child need accommodations for the test due to an IEP or 504 Plan?
- Will outside of school activities keep your child from having a lot of test dates that work?
- Does your student have the potential to be a National Merit Finalist? Taking the SAT is great prep for the PSAT test.
You can visit Jennifer Henson at her ACT test prep website, The Goal Digger.
She’s taught 21 years and coached ACT prep for over 7 years– and has an army of teachers trained to assist her requests for tutorials. Her former ACT students now attend notable higher learning institutions, including Notre Dame, The Ohio State University, Texas A&M, The Naval Academy, and Dartmouth—among others.