Every year the ACT (September, October, December, February, April, June, July) and SAT (August, October, November, December, March, May, June) are offered seven times each. All colleges will accept either.
Some students may find one test easier and thus score higher—so trying both one time during Junior Year makes sense. Then choose your preferred test, and take it three or more times to achieve your best possible results. Generally we encourage taking your preferred test twice in Junior Spring (including a mandated test, if offered) and twice Senior Fall, but what’s best for you depends on your personal circumstances. Consider these factors:
What’s your college application timeline?
December Senior Year is typically the final score colleges will consider for scholarships. But many colleges (Nebraska colleges, for example) consider February ACT scores from seniors for scholarships.
If you’re applying for an athletic scholarship or to a military academy, you probably want to start and finish your testing earlier because those decisions are often made by coaches and academies well before the spring of Senior year.
If you’re applying Early Action or Early Decision, your college will consider October ACT and November SAT score, but none achieved later.
Many schools begin considering applications (and scholarships!) July 1 or August 1, so you may prefer to test earlier than your friends, primarily during your junior year and the summer afterwards (though save at least one try for the fall of senior year). ACT score results and SAT score results can take 2-8 weeks to receive, so be sure your test dates will give you scores in time to meet your application deadlines. If you choose to wait to receive scores before sending to colleges, add another two weeks.
What’s your academic load?
Are you taking one or more honors or AP classes (all AP exams are during the first two weeks of May)?
Will your high school classes be harder in the spring or fall semester?
Are you taking summer school?
When are your athletics and extracurriculars schedules?
Do you play JV/varsity or a club sport or both? Think which test time best fits your schedule.
Are you in a performance group, band, debate, or other activity with a busy season?
Though summer test dates typically are the ones when students have the most time to prepare hard and score higher, do you work seasonal hours or full-time in the summer?
Will you have any individual or team camps, clinics or tournaments to avoid?
Have any personal or family commitments?
Any weddings, family reunions or other big events to schedule around?
Will you have a mission trip, study abroad, college visits or family vacations this summer?
Do you have any medical procedures (wisdom teeth, etc.) planned?
Whatever you do, plan ahead! And give yourself a cushion in case of sudden illness, accident or other unforeseen event that might affect your test preparation and performance. Give yourself the best chance for the best results to maximize those scholarship dollars!