Do I need to take the SAT or ACT?
Ultimately, each student needs to take either the ACT or the SAT for college admission purposes. A related question has to do with whether students should take both. Honestly, that is entirely up to the student. More anecdotally than anything else, some students seem to perform better on one than the other. But over time, most students tend to score similarly on both tests. Again, we encourage the student to make that final decision.
When should I take the test for the first time?
Students should never take the official test for practice purposes. Given that several highly selective colleges require students to submit all test scores, it is not in any student’s best interest to take the test prematurely. Our strong suggestion is to take the SAT I for the first time in March of the student’s junior year. That leaves multiple future dates for the student to take both the SAT I and the SAT II Subject Tests. Keep in mind, too, that students tend to do better on standardized testing the more mature they are. By March of a student’s junior year, they are usually at a place in both their mathematics and English courses to do well on the test. Students tend to take the SAT I for the second time in October of their senior year. If a student feels like he or she needs to take it for a third time, the test is offered again in November. Similarly, if a student decides to take the ACT, February or April of junior year is a good time to try the official test.
What happens if my testing never results in scores I am happy with?
Not every school requires the SAT or ACT. Some schools accept alternative testing requirements, or no testing all together. Consult Fairtesting.org for more information.
I am applying to university abroad-do I still need to take standardized tests?
Yes! In fact, students who are interested in going to college overseas, especially in the UK, should plan on sitting for as many standardized tests (SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, and AP exams) as possible.
Should I take test prep, and if so, when?
Here is what we suggest: wait until the results of the PSAT come out. We realize this will take some patience, both for the student and the parents of that student. After receiving the results, the student can determine which area(s) need some attention. At this point, students might choose to enroll in a test prep course. If a student does, remember what was mentioned earlier regarding timing of the first sitting of the SAT. Essentially, the student has three months to prepare for the SAT I after receiving the PSAT results. We believe that provides students plenty of time to prepare for the test. Many students benefit from taking timed tests on their own. Not every student needs to take a test prep course.
Athletes hoping to be recruited should plan on taking the SAT in January or March or ACT in February.