When Should You Take the SAT or ACT?


How to come up with a balanced plan of action and timeline for when to take the SAT or ACT while in high school. Planning out your tests is critical to testing preparation. 

By: Isabel Sipkema, Biology and Educational Studies at Rhodes College 


It is important to understand the timeline for SAT and ACT testing when you enter your junior year of high school. Typically, high school students should expect to take their SAT or ACT sometime between the spring of their junior year and the fall of their senior year. The SAT and ACT are both offered 7 times a year. The SAT is offered in March, May, June,  August, October, November, and December. In comparison, the ACT is offered in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. However, not every state or school offers testing on all these dates, making it extra important to start planning when you want to take your standardized tests early on. Ask your school advisor or counselor for the dates that your school or area offers the SAT or ACT early on in your junior year so that you can plan out your testing schedule and start preparing for them. Using these testing months as a reference, it is important to keep in mind that it is typically favored for students to take their standardized testing in the spring of their junior year because they will be working on college applications in the fall of their senior year. 

That being said, you are allowed to take these tests as often as you would like, although it is typically recommended to limit it to three testing or less. This is because some universities and schools require you to send all of your tests while others only want your top score. In the case that schools want only your top score, you are typically allowed to send them your super scored test score. If you take your SAT or ACT more than once and receive a better score in one section in one session and a better score in another section on another session, you are allowed to combine the two higher scores in a super score. This is why it is advantageous to take your first test early on in the spring semester of your junior year: so that it is possible to take it a second or third time later on in the semester or in the fall of your senior year to improve your overall score. 

Plan to take your SAT or ACT early on in your junior year for the first time and take it again later on in the semester or in the fall of your senior year if you believe that you could improve your score. Plan your testing date around your own schedule and allow yourself time to prepare and take practice tests in the weeks leading up to your testing date to feel prepared. Ask your school counselor or advisor early in your junior year how to register for these tests, as the registration deadlines are typically a few weeks ahead of the testing date at the minimum.  

Leave a Comment