Students scoring in the lower percentile should aim to complete their testing by the beginning or middle of senior year. For these students, test preparation typically begins in the middle of junior year or in the summer before senior year.
All juniors will take the October PSAT, but students scoring in this percentile range should view the PSAT as practice for the SAT, since their scores won’t be high enough to qualify for National Merit recognition. Their PSAT scores won’t “count” for college applications and are not reported as part of the application process.
Students in this lower range typically need more time in class during the junior year to practice writing skills and to learn math concepts that will appear on the exam. They’ll likely take their first diagnostic or practice test over the winter break in their junior year, or in early to mid-January.
These students typically do not take Subject Tests, so they have more flexibility to take the SAT at the end of their junior year. SAT takers will usually focus on taking their first real exams in May or June. ACT takers typically shoot for June or July. The April ACT is a possibility for those feeling prepared early or who want to take the exam just to practice testing in a real setting.
The summer is a great time to refresh on content and take practice tests. It’s also a great time to focus on test preparation, since students do not have as many distractions with school and extracurriculars. Any Fall exam has great potential for a student’s second attempt.
Students have the opportunity to take either exam a third time in November or December.
You can also access suggested testing calendars for those in the middle percentile and top percentile. Please be sure to customize your approach based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.
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