Students scoring in the middle percentile should aim to complete their testing by the end of junior year or beginning of senior year. For these students, test preparation typically begins at the beginning of or in the middle of junior 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 score range typically take their first SAT in March. However, if they don’t need to take Subject Tests, then they’ll sometimes wait to take their first SAT in May or June, especially if they’re in Algebra II math class as juniors and need more of the school year to get the content needed for the exams. ACT students typically choose April as their first exam. June is also a possibility for those who need more time with math content. February 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. With the introduction of the July ACT and the August SAT, these test dates may become the most popular times for second sittings of the tests.
APs and Subject Tests:
The end of the school year is the ideal time to take the SAT Subject Tests. It overlaps nicely with APs in May or final exams in late May or early June (depending on your school’s academic schedule). Depending on students’ AP schedules (the tests run for the first two weeks of May), students may want to take the SAT Subject Tests in May or June.
Students still hoping for a third chance at the test will likely take the ACT again in September or October, or take the SAT again in October or November. Either way, students wanting to apply for early decision or early action for college will want to be done with their testing by October of their senior year. Those applying regular decision should aim to be done by November of their senior year.
You can also access suggested testing calendars for those in the top percentile and bottom percentile. Please be sure to customize your approach based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.
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