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What is a good time frame to take the SAT or ACTs?

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Waleed’s Answer

I would suggest at least a month of test prep and taking it as soon as possible. Take the test a maximum of 3 times.
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Mike’s Answer

Hello Zemira!

Thanks for your question. The answer really depends on how much math you've learned; both the SAT and ACT cover topics from Algebra 2, so you might want to have completed that class before taking a stab at one of these tests.

I tutor kids in NYC, and many of my students aim to take the SAT for the first time in August before junior year. Yes, before junior year! The idea is to prep over the summer and get the test out of the way as soon as possible. That way, you can focus on improving your junior year grades and excelling at your extra curricular activities, both of which colleges will likely care more about than your SAT scores, especially now in the time of COVID when many colleges are test optional or test blind.

In terms of prep, the tests are similar, but I recommend starting with the SAT and focusing your energy there. Everything that's on the SAT is also covered on the ACT (grammar, reading comp, math, essay), but the ACT tests more stuff (including harder math, and a Science test). So if you decide later on that you want to take the ACT, you can learn the additional topics when you decide to make that shift. To help make that decision, it's a good idea to take a practice test for each of the exams. You can find practice SATs on Khan Academy (all free, of course) and ACT on the act.org website.

Keep in mind that you can take the SAT as many times as you want, and that it's offered 7 times per year. Almost every student I've ever worked with has taken it more than once, so don't feel bad/dumb if you need a retake; it's very, very common and normal. Just keep in mind that you will have other things to do besides the SAT. Junior year grades. AP exams. SAT subject tests, etc. You want to get as many things out of the way as quickly as possible, so you can focus more on the other things.

Best of luck to you!
Mike



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Patrick’s Answer

Take the actual SAT / ACT in the fall of your Junior year, that way you have subsequent opportunities to retake the exam if needed in order to maximize your score. That being said, while you should take the SAT / ACT in the fall of your Junior year, you should start studying for this exam in 8th grade because it requires a specific type of quick thinking. Go to Amazon, buy SAT / ACT books, and start taking timed practice exams as early as 8th grade. Despite what you read about college admissions, the SAT / ACT is the most important part of your college application, even more than GPA and SAT / ACT is also the most important part of scholarship applications as well. Lastly, many companies ask for SAT / ACT scores while recruiting from colleges so student must be diligent in preparing for these exams LONG before they apply to colleges in their senior year.
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Brenda’s Answer

As soon as possible. The sooner you become familiar with its concepts, the better. Don't wait until your senior year. Normally, you get better each time you take it. That is not always the case. Once or twice a year should be enough.

Thank you for your advice! Zemira M.

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Candice’s Answer

I recommend taking the tests in the fall or winter of Junior Year if you have completed math level of Algebra 2 by then. If you are able to prepare in the summer, then I highly recommend doing it in the fall. If you have not completed some algebra 2, then waiting for spring of junior year is best. I do not recommend waiting for the fall of senior year as applications will be due and you will need to spend time working on them as well as the required essays.
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Melody’s Answer

You should take a practice set of these exams in your junior year with time and an eye for improvement in your senior year.

Okay, thank you! Zemira M.

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Estelle’s Answer

My kids all took the SAT in the fall of their junior year, and this proved to be ideal timing.
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Richard’s Answer

The latest you should do it is October or November of your senior year. Since you can take each of them more than once, you should start taking them either the Summer after your Sophomore year or during your Junior year. That way, you have plenty of time to improve your score and practice before your last attempt. Then you can get the highest score you can before your college applications are due.
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Will’s Answer

I took them both in Spring of Junior year (to experience the test) and then Fall of Senior year after a summer of studying.
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Andrew’s Answer

I would definitely recommend starting to take them your junior year of high school and then in the beginning of your senior year if need be to get one final score before applying to colleges
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