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How to Pick Between a Summer or Fall ACT, SAT Test Date

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,893 Senior Member
"Both the ACT and the SAT are offered in the summer, but students should carefully consider when they think they'll do their best." ...

https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-admissions-playbook/articles/2018-05-21/how-to-choose-between-a-summer-or-fall-act-sat-test-date
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Replies to: How to Pick Between a Summer or Fall ACT, SAT Test Date

  • My CupcakeMy Cupcake Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    You anticipate retaking either exam. If you plan to sit for the ACT or SAT again, take your first test in the summer. This way, you will have adequate time to plan your next period of revision and to improve before your next exam date.
  • suraydavusuraydavu Registered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    very well said My Cupcake
  • c0llegenerdc0llegenerd Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    When you are booking your exam dates, make sure to do it early! Especially if you plan to take it in the summer! During the summer incoming high school Seniors will be trying to get one last ACT/SAT in and incoming Juniors will be trying to take their first exam--leads to a lot of people wanting a spot with limited test centers and seats available.
  • c0llegenerdc0llegenerd Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    Whenever you decide to book, make sure that you will have enough time to take 2 or 3 more tests after that (as a precaution). For example, take the October ACT, so that you have time to take the December and February ACTs, to be able to hopefully finish Standardized testing before the end of your Junior Year.
    It is tough (and nerve-racking) to take the last available ACT when you are applying to college's and want to send in your test scores.
  • beautifulchaosbeautifulchaos Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    Definitely take one summer before junior year or fall of junior year, and be prepared to retake later in the spring if necessary. I made the mistake of not thinking I was "ready" enough for an earlier date and am taking my first ACT in February and first SAT in March. I don't feel prepared at all since I have midterms and am prone to procrastinate; the point is, you will never be truly "ready" to take these tests, so just take it early to get an indicator of where you need to improve/what your score range could be. Good luck!
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,804 Senior Member
    The best time to take a test is when you're ready for it, pretty simple.
  • dummy101dummy101 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    never knew there was a difference.
  • QuantumechQuantumech Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    The SAT offered by schools (April?) seems to have a better curve compared to others.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 9,107 Senior Member
    My perspective as a test prep tutor and a parent of college-bound and in-college kids is that it depends on many factors. October/November test dates are pretty popular, but Feb-April test dates are by far the busiest time of year, for me at least.

    It might be easier to think about when a student shouldn't take it. And this isn't definitive. Every individual has different circumstances, there will be exceptions, etc...

    Serious athletes should avoid taking it during their sports season.
    Kids doing a lot of AP/IB classes should avoid taking it in April and May.
    Rising seniors should avoid taking it in the summer, or Sept-Dec of their senior year.
    Kids who are not great studiers should avoid taking it without adequate prep, which to me means beginning prep at least 3 months out, to be on the safe side.
    If you haven't prepped, DO NOT take an official test as a "trial run." I strongly do not feel anyone needs to pay to take a test that can go on their permanent record unless he/she is prepared for it.
    There are plenty of test dates, but avoid taking the test for the first time in the summer before senior year, or Sep-Dec of senior year.



    So, if a parent wants to pay me to work with their child on test prep, and asks me when the child should take the test, I try to find out what impediments there will be to proper test prep. Is the student taking driver's ed, involved in the school play, working, taking a really heavy courseload, struggling with any learning disabilities, etc...?

    Bottom line, I think the best time for ANY student to take the test is when they have the right amount of time to properly prepare for it. That can be different for everyone. To any parents or students reading this, realize that you or your child is going to get the best out of himself and the test if he is PREPARED. Kids who are not prepared are stressed about the test, and don't do as well as they could. Kids who are prepared are not as stressed out. They know they are ready, and they will do the best they can do on the day.

    Using my own two kids as examples, my daughter got the equivalent of 1530 on the old SAT. She did not take it again, and she didn't do the ACT. I did not tutor her at all. She had a study guide and did a couple of practice tests, and she saw a math tutor about four times. That's what worked for her.

    My son, on the other hand, has LD's, so I began prepping him a year out for the verbal sections,but it was very spread out and not consistent until about a month before the March SAT. He saw a math tutor about eight times. He got 1480. He was already signed up for the ACT in April and got 34. Did I make him do stuff? Yep. But he needed it.

    I believe the primary reason they did so well is because they were ready.
  • RichInPittRichInPitt Registered User Posts: 366 Member
    No such thing as a "better curve". The correlation between questions correct/wrong and score is adjusted for every exam, but it's adjusted to have a student of the same capability score the same every time.

    If you got 5 questions wrong and 700 on one test then 9 questions wrong and 700 on a second test, it wasn't a "better curve". It was a harder test and was calibrated to you being a 700-scoring student. Yes, 5 wrong on the second would be a better score, but there's no reason to think someone is a "5 questions wrong" test taker regardless of how hard the test is.

    https://blog.****/sat-curve covers it pretty well.

    The article is correct in saying that you should take the test when you have the time and focus to be best prepared
  • shfloridashflorida Registered User Posts: 18 Junior Member
    Are all tests normalized to have a normal bell curve?
  • astronomy21astronomy21 Registered User Posts: 18 Junior Member
    Yes, they are standardized tests, so your score is created based on how well you do compared to others who also took it
  • careerhelpcareerhelp Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    I also agree with taking the summer exam, however, the curve really shouldn't affect when you take the test.
  • BmacNJBmacNJ Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    D is entering junior year in the Fall, so I guess I'll look for summer test for her to take. How far out in advance does one need to register for tests? Any advice on which test to take first ACT or SAT? Appreciate any feedback/advice
  • aila1029aila1029 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    @shflorida all standardized tests have a bell curve. But tests that are NOT standarized will not have a bell curve. So the word standardized is key here :)
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