Students scoring in the top percentile should aim to complete their testing by the end of junior year, so the summer leading into senior year can be devoted to preparation for college applications. For these students, test preparation typically begins the summer before junior year.
For juniors with potential to achieve National Merit, the summer before junior year likely includes preparation for the October PSAT.
Students taking the SAT will move naturally from the October PSAT to the November SAT. Students taking the ACT frequently choose the December ACT as their first test. The December ACT also offers the Test Information Release service, so students can order a copy of their real exam and use it to review for Spring tests (it usually arrives by late January or early February).
Students use their Fall test performance to guide future test dates. SAT students will focus on retaking in March, while ACT students will retake in February and/or April.
APs and Subject Tests:
Students scoring in the top percentile in the country are likely enrolled in AP courses at their high schools. These students will spend considerable effort from mid-April through mid-May to study and take AP tests. Depending on students’ AP schedules (the tests run for the first two weeks of May), it makes sense to take the SAT Subject Tests in May or June.
Students disappointed in their Subject Test scores will focus on retaking for the August SAT. Please note that doing so requires staying sharp about history or biology over the entire summer.
Students who take their chosen test a third time will likely take the ACT in June or July. Those who prefer the SAT will take that again in June (if they’re not taking subject tests) or in August. Either way, students applying for early decision or early action for college will want to be done with their testing by October of their senior year.
You can also access suggested testing calendars for those in the middle percentile and bottom percentile. Please be sure to customize your approach based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.
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