When to Take the SAT/ACT

Standardized testing dates range a lot. I had friends who took their exams prior to junior year, and others who were still testing after they had submitted their applications. It is essential that the testing date be considered far in advance, to allow for the proper studying and practice time. In determining a date, the goal is to balance two factors: academic maturity and safety in terms of the application deadline.

Primarily, academic maturity refers to the advancement of the student’s intelligence. For example, a freshman likely has less experience thinking on his/her feet and less exposure to reading passages which he/she will study later in high school. On the other hand, an older test taker can leverage these learned abilities to perform better on exam day. While the material on the SAT or ACT may not seem like the traditional curriculum exactly, many of the skills are nonetheless transferable, in both the math and verbal sections. But obviously, nobody’s going to fringe between taking standardized tests in freshman year or second semester of senior year, so it may seem like the change in this respect is negligible. This is not the case. During junior year, perhaps because it’s one of the most rigorous periods of high school academically, students become much more proficient at working under pressure and understanding testing. Even the difference between first and second semester can lead to a notable shift in standardized test scores.

So how can academic maturity be measured?

One of the best ways is to take practice tests. Our experts will help gage how prepared you are using a variety of our custom practice material, gaging how prepared you are and whether you are early, late, or right on time to get your best score. Furthermore, we can also help to determine when you’re done testing, as it can often be difficult to maintain the balance between stopping at too low a score and continuing to pour in time and effort when the time may be better spent elsewhere.

Ultimately, there’s no time too early to get started. The material on the SAT and ACT include math covered by the traditional ninth grade math curriculum. While you may not be intellectually mature enough to actually take the test yet, there’s no harm to getting a head start, staying ahead of the curve, and preventing stress later on.

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