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4 Factors to Consider when Choosing an ACT or SAT Test Date

CCadmin_LydiaCCadmin_Lydia 8 replies24 postsVerified Member Junior Member
"A test date in the fall can allow students to capitalize on summer study time, but may not be a good option for those with busy work or family schedules."

There is more to standardized testing than just getting a good score. Planning your test dates can be just as important as the time you spend studying. Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure you pick a test date that will maximize your chance for success.

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Replies to: 4 Factors to Consider when Choosing an ACT or SAT Test Date

  • DiscipulusBonusDiscipulusBonus 820 replies181 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @enigmaticescape: Interesting theory. Any stats to support it?
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  • enigmaticescapeenigmaticescape 158 replies6 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @DiscipulusBonus‌: Afraid not, it's just conjecture by kids at my school and their personal experiences. I'm sure if you look it up, most would probably disprove that theory.
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  • lanflanlanflan 119 replies14 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @enigmaticescape‌ @DiscipulusBonus‌ Interesting theory, but I thought the SAT was graded according to the experimental section? Like I was under the impression that they had this advanced scoring process that meant that your performance was independent from other students', and the curve wasn't affected by the performance of those testing on your date
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  • JuvenisJuvenis 638 replies215 postsRegistered User Member
    An old SAT tutor of mine told us that, for the Math section, the May/June tests are more difficult.
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  • SmargentSmargent 237 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    The way their curve works is not a traditional curve. It is an equalizing curve, so scores are equal between each test date. That means that no matter when you take your test, it will reflect your SAT score, independent of others.
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  • long2181998long2181998 155 replies98 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Holy crap, I just learn the SAT is a curve test. I always thought it is base on % of total questions you get right.
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  • bamboo17bamboo17 191 replies15 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Actually, I think there is a little bit of validity to the theory that tests can be more difficult on certain dates. I took took the ACT in September, February, and April. February was brutal in my opinion, and my score showed it. April was a breeze. Most kids take it in April. A lot of people at my school agreed that February was much more difficult than April. Although, the tests are all curved accordingly.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77214 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Winter test dates may be "harder" because the students are less advanced in their studies.

    September: mostly early seniors
    February: mostly midyear juniors
    April: mostly late juniors

    However, in terms of getting test scores, here is a strategy to consider:

    Late junior year: take both the SAT reasoning and ACT
    Last SAT test date of junior year: take any SAT subject tests that you may need on courses you just finished
    Early senior year: if the higher of SAT reasoning and ACT is still not satisfactory, retake it after additional preparation
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  • dadinatordadinator 1326 replies113 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    What @smargent said. When you take the exam doesn't matter.
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  • Bartleby007Bartleby007 493 replies1 postsRegistered User Member
    edited July 2014
    People at my school say:

    5. When everyone else is taking it: This everyone includes kids who intend on going to not as selective colleges and kids who are underachievers. The curve tends to be more generous during these months, and more people tend to take tests during the months of May and June. With this logic, kids who take tests during March and January will have a tougher time because these are the months when mostly "bright" kids are taking it.
    The people that say this don't have a firm grasp of how the College Board equates the SAT.

    Take the test whenever you feel ready for it. It does not matter which test date you pick -- tweaking of the score scales compensates for any variance in difficulty level from test to test.
    edited July 2014
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  • rhandcorhandco 4240 replies55 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2014
    I would love to see some spreads of what you need for an 800 for any particular month/year. I was shocked that of my son's friends, some who took in May and others in June, he was the only one who got an 800 on Math. When we looked up his exact result, it was perfect. So IMHO, either it is easier and more people therefore get perfect, but also more people "do well enough" to get into an average college, and those who are in the 700s have to be right on the mark to get an 800.

    Are there always the same number of 2400 for example, for every test sitting?

    My son took the SAT once in November, and once in June, junior year. November felt more stressed because it was end of first quarter, June felt like in a lull after the APs, but before the final exam studying was in full swing. His testing schedule was purely about what fit into his schedule, and he is not planning to retake senior year because of the 800 and little improvement in CR and W from the previous take.

    He did like taking the subject tests in May, which is always before the AP tests. It seemed to be good prep, though his subject test SAT scores and AP scores did not mesh except for one subject.
    edited July 2014
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  • helpme12helpme12 38 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks a lot!!!
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  • CheerLara99CheerLara99 9 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member

    I am just beginning to study and learn about the SAT. Why does it matter the age of the takers? Juniors vs Seniors?

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  • puzzled123puzzled123 548 replies18 postsRegistered User Member
    Another tip- take it as early as possible! Gives you more flexibility to retake if needed.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9026 replies490 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Interesting thread, as I have just been wondering about this very thing. Can I clarify something, still learning about this. I thought there is the standard SAT comprising three sections, and separate subject SATs. Yet I see some people have written about retaking the reasoning section. Don't you have to retake the whole test? And do more selective colleges prefer that students are presenting good SAT scores the first time around?
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  • NurseonthelakeNurseonthelake 6 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    One suggestion : don't take your test at the same testing site as your classmates/friends. You'll be more focused.
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  • OrchidBloomOrchidBloom 896 replies14 postsRegistered User Member
    @Lindagaf‌ The SAT reasoning test refers to the general test, or SAT I, which includes Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. Many competitive schools also require you to take SAT Subject Tests (or SAT IIs).

    As for choosing test dates, I would go with whenever you are ready. Personally though, I'd recommend taking the SAT I for the first time by October of junior year (since you can prepare during the summer, and school is less busy at the beginning of the year), and aim to get testing done by the end of junior year.
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  • UpnorthAKUpnorthAK 1 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    I'm not sure October of Junior year is best, as that is when you're supposed to take the PSAT!
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  • OrchidBloomOrchidBloom 896 replies14 postsRegistered User Member
    Oops, I didn't realize since I'm international!

    In any case, I'd still recommend getting testing done by the end of junior year.
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