The Best Time to Take the SAT or ACT

I drove past an ACT test site this morning and saw a parking lot full of cars.  I understand that many students wait until their senior year to test but this is not the best option. So when is the best time for students to take one of the standardized tests?

I generally recommend to the students with whom I work that they start official testing at the January SAT or the February ACT. The March SAT or April ACT are also acceptable first test dates.  The student can then use the May or June test date for their second test. Rarely do I recommend that they test for a third time if they have adequately prepared before starting to take the tests.

By using a test schedule where all of the testing is done before senior year, the student has more time to  identify which schools are most appropriate for their needs and at which they meet the basic admissions  criteria. Having identified which colleges they wish to apply to, the student has time to start working on their essays during the summer before senior year. This schedule also allows a student that wishes to apply early decision sufficient time to have all parts of their application ready by the early deadline.

And best of all, by getting the SAT or ACT out of the way in the junior year, students no longer have to worry about what to do if they get a bad score their senior year, with little time to re-take a test.

You can trust us to help you find the best college for your needs. We offer a FREE 1/2 hour consultation to discuss your needs for college admissions counseling. Give us a call now at 952-449-5245 or drop us an email.


  1. says

    As an experienced SAT tutor, I agree fully that students should take the SAT for the 1st time in January or March & a 2nd time in May or June before their final year at school begins. This way they leave a “just in case” third time and have more time to practice their college essays.

  2. Leila says

    I would like to know what is meant by “an experienced SAT tutor.” Are these teachers who are lacking the proper degrees to teach in American high schools, and are only out to make extra money off these poor students (and parents)? Isn’t the purpose of the SAT to asses what students have learned in high school? So, why would students NEED “an experienced SAT tutor”? Just wondering!

    Concerned parent,

  3. says

    Some of us “experienced SAT tutors” may be lacking certification and work because they want money (unlike everyone else in the world!), but others, hard as it may seem, actually have a passion for what they do. That is to help our children get into college. You say the SAT SHOULD asess what students already know from highschool; that is true. But knowing is one thing and preparing for a test is another. Any student should and does prepare before any test. Some students are capable of preparing well on their own, and some need help. If your son or daughter needed help preparing for a test that could very well determine his or her future (the SAT)…I’m sure you would rather seek the help of ” an experienced SAT tutor” than that of “a certified highschool teacher” who doesn’t know how to TAKE the SAT but definitely knows the subject matter.I hope this clears the definition.

    An experienced SAT tutor who answers SAT questions for FREE on his website.

  4. Todd Johnson says


    A 30 ACT is about a 1,340 on the SAT critical reading and math. I would need to know the writing score on the SAT to say for sure but they are similar scores with the ACT probably a little higher.

    There are other factors to consider in which test to retake, such as which test was most comfortable for you and the test prep you might be doing but in general terms I don’t think it makes much difference since they are similar scores.


Leave a Comment