With today’s weather, it may not seem like it, but spring is just around the corner. Spring is when testing season kicks into high gear for many students. With so many tests offered – SAT/ACT, AP exams, and Subject Tests, not to mention school finals – it is crucial to make a coherent plan about which tests to take on which dates.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you plan your spring test dates:
May SAT: Remember that AP exams occur primarily during the first two weeks of May. For students taking one or more AP exams, the May SAT might fall at a bad time, and the June exam may be a better date. But…
May/June Subject Tests: Students who take Subject Tests usually take them in June, at the conclusions of the courses on which they are based. But, that means that students taking Subject Tests cannot take the June SAT.
The truth is, though, that Subject Tests are becoming less and less important, and may disappear entirely within the next few years. As a result, you should research carefully whether the schools to which you are applying require Subject Tests at all. Many don’t. So, many students won’t need to worry about Subject Tests.
For those that have to take Subject Tests, two tests are usually what is required. In theory, these tests could be taken in May to open up the June SAT I date. For students taking AP exams, May Subject Tests could be a good option. The studying required for some of these tests (e.g. Biology, U.S. History) will overlap well with studying for the corresponding Subject Tests.
June ACT: June can be an excellent time to take the ACT, particularly for private school students who have recently finished with school. Such students have likely had a few days off, but they also remember all of their course material from their finals; much of this material is also tested on the ACT.
For public school students, however, the June ACT can be tough: the test often occurs the weekend before final exams, a weekend students need for studying. In this case, April may be a better date, or a date in the fall.
Summer and Beyond: For the first time, the SAT is offering an August administration. Summer can be a great time to do test preparation, since students have no homework from school. We think August is a great testing date for students who can study over the summer.
During junior year, most students dread having to test in the fall, but the fact is that many students do test in the fall, anyway. In fact, many students achieve their best scores in the fall. The more school you’ve had, the better you’ll do on either test, so there is a lot to be said for re-testing in the fall.
Be sure to know which test dates can be used for early decision applications: The August SAT, September ACT, and October SAT work for ED applications at all schools. The October ACT works at most schools, but you should check with your college counselor about the particulars at each school.
As always, let us know if you have questions about planning your test dates or anything else related to the testing process.