Debating when you should  take the SAT or ACT? Your perfect test date comes down to scheduling and planning. Consider how much time you’ll need to prep, how packed your schedule is, and how many times you plan to take the test.

when to take sat or act

What's Important about ACT Test Dates

If you haven’t already, check out the upcoming ACT test and registration dates. Here are some tips and ACT facts to help you make your decision.

  • In the United States, the ACT is given 6 times a year: September, October, December, February, April, and June.
  • Internationally, the September test date is not offered, and the February administration is not available in New York.
  • Many states also offer an additional ACT as part of their state testing. Check with your high school to see if and when your state offers a special ACT.
  • Your school will register you automatically for a state ACT (if offered). You must register yourself for all other administrations.
  • Many high schools still recommend taking the ACT the spring of your junior year because the content of the Math test includes topics some curricula do not cover before then. However, these topics appear in only a handful of questions, and many juniors take their first ACT in the fall or winter.
  • Learn exactly how to register for the ACT.

What's Important about SAT Test Dates

Check out the upcoming SAT test and registration dates and then read these SAT facts:

  • In the United States, the SAT is given 7 times a year: October, November, December, March (or April), May, June, and August.* 
  • Although you may take the SAT any time starting freshman year, most students take it for the first time in the spring of their junior year and possibly retake it in the fall of their senior year.
  • You may also need to take SAT Subject Tests (many competitive colleges require them), so don’t leave everything to the last minute. You can’t take SAT and SAT Subject Tests on the same day.
  • Not all SAT Subject Tests are offered on each test date, so plan accordingly.
  • Learn exactly how to register for the SAT.

*The August SAT is NEW in 2017 and replaces the January test date.

Choosing Your Best Test Dates

Consider your own schedule and plan ahead when picking your test dates. Do you act in the spring musical and plan to take several AP exams? Have you been dreaming of attending Big State University since you were a toddler and already plan to apply early decision? We recommend taking your first SAT or ACT test as early as your schedule allows. Comprehensive prep courses can start as many as 8 to 10 weeks before the test!

How Many Times Should You Take the ACT or SAT?

For security reasons, ACT will not let you take the exam more than twelve times, and technically the SAT is unlimited. But we don't believe colleges will accept “taking standardized tests” as an extracurricular activity!

We recommend that you plan to take the ACT or SAT 1–3 times. Once you get the score you want, there’s no reason to take it again.


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