SAT & ACT tests: When’s the best time to take them?

The SAT & ACT tests are offered several times a year as indicated below:


  • January 23, 2016 (Register by December 28)
  • March 5, 2016 (Register by February 5)
  • May 7, 2016 (Register by April 8)
  • June 4, 2016 (Register by May 5)
  • October 1, 2016 (anticipated)
  • November 5, 2016 (anticipated)
  • December 3, 2016 (anticipated)


  • February 6, 2016 (Register by January 8)
  • April 9, 2016 (Register by March 4)
  • June 11, 2016 (Register by May 6)
  • September 10, 2016
  • October 22, 2016
  • December 10, 2016

Junior year: Take 2

We recommend taking the test twice in your student’s junior year and once senior year. Taking the first test in the fall/winter of  your child’s junior year is a great option since it leaves him or her the time to take it again that same year with time to get scores back and do some prep.

The next opportune time to take the test is the spring of junior year. It’s important to take a break from such a long test so that your child can properly reflect on his/her experience. Just try to balance any other tests (i.e. finals, AP exams or SAT Subject Tests) that might be scheduled for around the same time. June is a great time to take the SAT Subject Tests in subjects currently being studied.

Senior year: Third time’s a charm

The final test should be taken during the fall of senior year. This is your child’s last chance to get the scores sent out to colleges. If your child needs to take SAT Subject Tests, figure out when they are offered and schedule accordingly. Remember, balance is key; while the tests are important, there are other things that require focus and effort as well.

Prep early … prep smart

Regardless which test date your child chooses, Testive recommends prepping 3-4 months prior to the test for the best possible outcome. The advantage of prepping for such an extended period of time is that it allows the student to “pace themselves” in their studies. They can work on 5-10 questions a day over this period rather than cram for the test 1-2 months prior.  The goal is to prep for 100 hours prior to the test.

Things to keep in mind when deciding on your child’s test prep/test date schedule:

  • Make sure they’ve completed all of the material that will be asked on the test.
  • Avoid times when your child is exceptionally busy with other activities.
  • The summer before a child’s junior year is a great time to prep without all of the school distractions.

Remember that during your child’s junior and senior year, you’ll also be busy with college visits and applications, so the sooner you can get the SAT & ACT tests out of the way, the better to leave room to really engage in the college search/application process.

Hopefully, this has clarified the “when” of test prep and taking the test. To learn more about how to do well on the test, check out Achieving Mastery on the SAT/ACT. 

Ready to get started prepping with Testive? Schedule a call with one of our student success advisors to discuss your options or enroll in a plan today!   

4 thoughts on “SAT & ACT tests: When’s the best time to take them?

    1. Amy, I would be happy to sign you up for our parenting emails. In fact, I’ll do that right now! Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

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