It’s your senior year of high school. Everyone is talking about where they want to go to college, and asking you what you want to major in… but you haven’t applied anywhere yet. You still need to take your standardized test. At Student-Tutor, we get this question all the time. When do you take the SAT?
When can you take the ACT or SAT?
According to ACT.ORG, here are the ACT test dates and registration period:
|ACT Test Date||Regular Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline|
|September 12||August 31||None|
|September 13||August 31||None|
|September 19||August 31||None|
|October 10||September 25||None|
|October 17||September 25||None|
|October 24||September 25||None|
|October 25||September 25||None|
|December 12||November 6||November 20|
|February 26||January 8||January 15|
Meanwhile, for the SAT, here are the test dates and registration:
|SAT Test Date||Regular Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline|
|September 26||August 26||September 15|
|October 3||September 4||September 22|
|November 7||October 7||October 27|
|December 5||November 5||November 24|
These are the registration and test dates for the SAT and ACT in 2020-2021, but getting in to take the test on time doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear for college. In fact, it doesn’t at all.
The whole reason you’re taking the ACT and/or SAT is so that you can submit your scores to your college of choice for admission.
So the idea is that you have to take these tests IN ADVANCE. Your checklist goes like this:
- Test Scores
- College and scholarship applications
Colleges will start evaluating applications before March. In March, most colleges will have decided who they are accepting, and you will most likely hear of their decisions around April 1st.
If I’m a senior, is it too late to take the SAT or ACT?
More than anything, you need to know what your college(s) of choice’s application deadlines are. Let’s say you’re a high school senior, and it’s January. In this case, you would have missed over 40 application deadlines to colleges including Cal Poly, UCLA, Berkeley, and UC Davis!
College Simply lists the deadline for every college admissions so you better check their page.
Now, if you haven’t taken the ACT or SAT, you’re going to need to take it before applying to any college and keep in mind that you’ll also have to wait to see your scores.
- SAT score release can be up to 2 or more weeks after the exam.
- ACT score release can be up to 8 weeks after the exam!
So, can you take the SAT senior year? Yeah, you probably can. Here’s a more specific timeline:
- October SAT: This is too late for early admissions.
- November SAT: This is too late for early admissions, but okay for the regular admissions.
- December SAT: You have to check with your college regarding their application deadline. This is too late for early admissions and very much cutting it close for regular admissions.
What about the ACT, you ask? Can you take the ACT senior year? Absolutely! Many seniors take the SAT during the fall and there is no problem with that.
If I'm a senior, is it too late to get scholarships?
It's never too late to get scholarships. There are plenty of scholarships that are monthly, weekly, and even daily. However, if you're looking to score big, the deadlines for larger scholarships are usually in January.
The trick is to have your test scores and GPA in order. You need to have taken your ACT/SAT before applying to scholarships that are concerned with these scores. There is a lot of money to be earned through Merit-Based Scholarships, for example.
When is the best time to take the SAT or ACT?
The BEST time to take the ACT and/or SAT is in your JUNIOR year of high school.
Your freshman and sophomore years should be reserved for building your GPA and learning the materials needed to excel at your standardized tests.
Ideally, you should register for your standardized tests in your junior year of high school. The reason being that you can get a head start on both your scholarship and college applications.
In your senior year, you can focus on re-taking the exams to get higher scores. You'll also be plenty busy with - you guessed it - more scholarship applications, and of course, your college applications!
How many times can you take the SAT and ACT?
You can take the SAT as long as you want to, but we would suggest that you take it at least twice because you might get a higher score during the second time.
As for the ACT, you can take it up to 12 times since a number of colleges are neutral when it comes to scores. We recommend that you take the ACT two to three times.
College prep is proactive, not reactive
The absolute BEST way to get big money is scholarships and accepted to college is to plan ahead.
- Know your dates and deadlines ahead of time and write them down.
- Plug them into the calendar on your phone, write them in a calendar in your room, or both!
You should also speak to experts and get their opinions and advice on what the best approaches will be for your college and scholarship desires.
Experts you can talk to:
- Your college counselor
- College admissions officers
- An academic/test prep tutor or consultant
I’ve missed all my deadlines, and my GPA is lower than average. What are my options?
If this is the case, it’s time to look at community college.
You may have heard the phrase “community college route”. Many students will go to community college in order to increase their GPA and credits, and then transfer to a traditional university.
If you ARE going the community college route, this doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. You’ll still need to do some strategic planning in order to make that transfer to another school.
So there you have it. The ideal time to take your standardized test is in your junior year of high school. But you also have to choice to take them senior year if you don't have any choice.
Just to review, here is the optimal timeline we discussed:
- Freshman & Sophomores = Build your GPA
- Juniors = Take the ACT/SAT and begin applying to scholarships
- Seniors = Re-take the ACT/SAT for higher scores, apply to more scholarships, and start college applications
If you haven't followed this timeline, you'll need to consider other options!
Do you have any more questions about deadlines for the ACT, SAT, scholarships, or college admissions? Let us know in the comments below!