When Should I Take the SAT

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

If you are between 10th-12th grade, you most certainly have been prepping—or at least heard of—the SAT. The SAT or ACT test is one of the most important and challenging parts when it comes to college admissions, and requires a lot of time and preparation ahead of time. However, it could be very hectic if you have school work, basketball games, band practices, and other extracurricular commitments throughout the school year. Planning is key, and we’d like to make this process easier by helping you schedule your tests.

Test prep:

First thing to know about the SAT/ACT is that it is offered multiple (seven) times a year, and you have the power to choose which test dates suit you better. Many students wonder if they should take their first SAT/ACT without any practice to get a “feel” of the test. So here comes rule number 1—never take the test unless you’re fully prepared! With the help of multiple forums and officially released files by CollegeBoard, you can find plenty of mock tests and past exams online easily, without the final result on record. Use a timer (http://ivy-way.com/tests/timer.php) and find a quiet place to take the test on your own; it can save you some money and make your first official test count.

Also, scheduling your tests has a lot to do with your (math) classes at school and the schools you are applying to. For instance, if you have just finished algebra at school and haven’t learned geometry yet, SAT Math could be harder simply because you have never learned topics such as volumes or similar triangles. In addition, many colleges allow applicants to submit their applications early either through ED (early decision) or EA (early action), which is typically around October to mid-November. ED/EA applicants tend to have higher acceptance rate than RD (regular decision) applicants, so if you decide to apply early, you must first complete your SAT.

To current sophomores/juniors with test-prep experience:

Typically, you should take your first SAT in your junior year. As mentioned previously, don’t take it unless you’re prepared. Many students would use the summer before junior year to have intensive preparation for 2-3 months, and take the October SAT test. This is certainly feasible if you start early, as it gives you a flexibility to schedule your upcoming test. You can either schedule another one in March or May if you have time to prepare in the couple months prior. If needed, the August or October test can be your final test since you can use the summer before senior year for a final push.

To juniors with no test-prep experience:
However, if you are a junior now and is yet to begin test-prep, there’s no time to waste. Start now and familiarize yourself with the topics, and register for your first test by the end of your junior year. We’d recommend the March or May test because you’d have winter break and spring break to do intensive preparation. Your second test should be scheduled in either August, October, or November, as you could have summer to study and improve, especially if you wish to apply ED/EA with your dream schools.

Besides the SAT/ACT, most colleges also require SAT II. You might also be taking higher-level classes and have AP/IB exams at the end of school year. Therefore, make sure you leave time for every test, do multiple mock tests, and start early!

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

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