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  • Writer's pictureKate-Jen Barker-Schlegel

When to take the SAT/ACT: Timing is Everything!!!!

Standardized Testing: for most high school students these two words spark fear and anxiety. What few people realize is that timing when you take the test can significantly influence your score. Below are a few things to consider before you decide when you will take your standardized tests.

1. The math section of both the SAT and ACT cover Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. Don't even think about testing until you have completed, or almost completed, these classes. Load of high school students take Algebra II during 11th grade so testing in April, May or June of that year is a great choice.

2. Leave time to bone up on your grammar. Most high school English classes no longer teach grammar. Both tests over about 15 different grammatical topics but few kids have actually studied these in school. When was the last time you looked at a test on all the different ways a comma can be used? How many of you know what a misplaced modifier is? Right. That's my point. The easiest way to prep for testing is to link your PSAT scores with Khan Academy - which is free - and review grammatical topics covered on the test.

3. Practice Makes Perfect. Ahh...such an old adage but still relevant today! A HUGE factor in your final score will be how familiar you are with the test. There are definite patterns to the way that test questions are written on each test. Sure you need to practice test sections so that you can work on your reading comprehension and essay writing skills but more importantly, you need to become familiar with how the test works. Knowing how and when information is presented will reduce your anxiety, enable you to work faster and results in fewer wrong answers

4. Everyone knows that getting into college is not the only thing going on in your life. Games, proms, bake sales, regattas, school plays......your calendar might be pretty full. Think head. Check out the dates that the SAT and ACT are offered. Consider these dates in relation to the other important things you have going on. It's not a good idea to take the SAT the morning after your prom nor is it wise to prep for your ACT during the one season of the year that you are playing on three different basketball teams. Preparing for tests and taking tests takes time. Choose testing dates that work with your schedule.

5. Finish by September of Senior year. While you can take the SAT or ACT well into the late fall of 12th grade, it is best to finish testing by the beginning of September. This will give you time to view your scores before you send out applications for early, regular and rolling deadlines. The best case scenario is to finish testing before the end of Junior year. This will allow you to apply to schools in August before school starts.

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