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When During the Year Should I Take Standardized Tests?

Most students take standardized tests around the same time in their high school journey. Here's a quick rundown of when to take it to plan ahead with studying.

CX experts generic image David Recine
Test Prep Expert

When you schedule your ACT and/or SAT, you need to balance three main things: available test dates, your own test prep schedule, and application timelines for universities. The availability of the ACT and SAT is probably the easiest factor to research. Test dates for both exams are publicly available. Make a list of your “target” colleges, the schools you’re planning to apply to. Then look carefully at their application deadlines. Bear in mind that your scores report won’t even be generated until three to five weeks after you take your test. And from there, it will take another two weeks to send scores to your target schools. You should also give yourself enough time to retake your exam if need be. Ideally, you should take your first (and hopefully only) ACT or SAT at least four months before your earliest application deadline. Most successful test takers give themselves between one and three months to study. So take the ACT or SAT on a date that allows you that much prep time—or more prep time, depending on your schedule and your baseline abilities.

Check out our SAT and ACT Date Wheel—which we keep updated with upcoming test and score release dates—to find a test date that works for you!


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