When should you take the SAT/ACT?

Written by Michael Ionescu

About a decade ago, there used to be a pretty universal time to take the SAT/ACT, and that was the spring of a student’s junior high school year. Now, as college admissions and sports recruiting have become more competitive, recommended times to take the test have been all over the board.

In order to help clarify the many different messages being sent by college counselors, coaches, and the sources on the internet I thought I’d break down my own assessment of when students should be taking the test.

Remember, these are just my recommendations and can vary based on each student’s specific circumstances. Feel free to contact me with any specific questions.

Division I college athlete hopeful:

These students typically want to get their SAT scores in as soon as possible to give coaches an idea of where they stand academically. Taking the SAT/ACT in August/September of a student’s junior year is a good first time, which should give the student plenty of time to make time to improve and get their score up to their required level. These students have the most flexibility as well. I once taught a D-I basketball player to take the SAT in June of their senior year, and the student still found a college, full scholarship and all.

Division II-III college athlete:

College sports is so competitive now that even the lower tier divisions still demand a lot from their athletes. Most do not need to take the SAT/ACT too early, but fall or winter of junior year gives them a good head start to balance their sports schedules and any kind of extra prep they might need.

General Admission Academic student:

These students typically want to take the test by the middle to end of their junior year. It gives them plenty of time over the summer and fall of their senior year to seek prep services to improve their score. In most cases, the last time a student who is applying early action and early decision will be November of their senior year, and in some cases October.

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