Tyler.High School Students Taking the ACT2A critical part of the college planning process is deciding when and how often you should take either the SAT or ACT.

Both tests are offered seven times each school year, beginning in late August for the SAT and early September for the ACT. To determine which test is right for you, take some practice SAT and ACT tests to see whether you score better on one or the other.

Getting your best score on either test will ultimately depend on two factors: whether you give yourself enough time to take the test at least twice, and whether you commit yourself to prepare.

Plan Ahead for Junior Year

As a junior, it’s a good idea to register for the PSAT, which is offered every October. Doing well on the PSAT is a good indicator that you might do better on the SAT so you should sign up for the test in the spring of junior year.

Whether you choose the SAT or ACT, you should aim to take each test twice, preferably in the winter and spring of your junior year. On average, most students will see their scores rise on the second sitting.

Here are several reasons why you should take either test at least twice:
  • You may have a fluke test day, when you’re sick, tired, or stuck on a particular question, which could lower your score.
  • You may not test well in the fall of senior year, because many students lose their test-taking ability over the summer and become too busy with college applications.
  • You can use score choice, which lets you decide which scores from the SAT to send to schools.
  • You will be able to superscore the SAT, a process in which schools use your highest scores across multiple test dates. The ACT is less fequently superscored.
For most students, it is not advisable to take either the SAT or ACT more than three times because it is unlikely that your test scores will rise after three sittings.

Test Prep is Essential

Preparing for the SAT or ACT is a must, if you want to get the best score that you can. You should allow yourself a minimum of six to eight weeks to study for the test, by either working with a tutor or taking an online class.

The best online tutoring is offered by the companies that give the tests: the College Board for the SAT, and act.org for the ACT. Both companies also publish manuals that offer samples questions for the tests.

Another critical step in your test prep is to take a timed practice test so you can see how to pace yourself when you take the actual test. 

Subject Tests

If you are applying to a highly selective school, you will most likely need to take an SAT subject test. While schools have different requirements on how many you should take, most selective schools require two SAT subject tests.

When you take the subject tests should align with your high school coursework. If you are taking chemistry junior year, for example, consider taking the chemistry subject test at the end of the school year, when the subject is fresh in your mind.

Because of the length of the subject tests, you can't take them on the same day that you take the SAT. This is another reason why you need a thoughtful testing schedule planned months ahead of time, so you can meet all the requirements of the schools on your targeted list.

College Admissions Counseling

Need help finding schools that fit your interests
and learning style? Lucia Tyler can help you find
and get into the colleges that meet your needs.

Contact Lucia