SAT & ACT – Selecting the Best Test Dates

When are the best test dates?

Few people know that you can order a copy of the SAT and ACT test you took along with your answers.  These are:

SAT Question and Answer Service (QAS), available on the October, January, and May tests.

ACT Test Information Release (TIR), available on the December, April, and June tests.

These, of course, become the optimal test dates because you can get a copy of the test and you answers, and these are the best training material to prepare for subsequent tests.

We recommend student start taking the test early – optimally in the 9th grade.  Here are the recommended test dates by year:

9th & 10th Grade

SAT: October and May and order the QAS.  The PSAT is also administered in October, so sign up for it at the local school.

ACT: December and June and order the TIR.

Junior year is the big year because we need to get our “apply to college” score this year.

The October PSAT is the test for National Merit Scholarship competition and that should be important if your SAT scores from sophomore year have been in the 80%.  If they are, you need to spend most of the summer prepping for it.

We recommend you take the August SAT and September ACT so you can get a “sounding” of which test you should focus on.

The SAT-ACT Concordance provides the alignment between SAT and ACT scores, so you can gauge which test you tend to do better on.  You may need to take both tests again to see if there is a significant variance.

I tend to favor the ACT because it is generally easier to beat and raise your score than the new SAT, especially with the Grid-ins (where you have to calculate and code the numerical answer in).

However, you need to go with the test that favors you.  If you are relatively balanced on you score based on the concordance, I recommend you take both tests at least one more time, preferably with a QAS or TIR.  I recommend this because many college scholarship test cutoffs don’t parallel the concordance, so a lower relative score on one test might qualify for the scholarship than a higher score on the other.

You keep taking the test and prepping in between until you reach the score you need for admissions or scholarship.

If you don’t get the score by June, then you will need to dedicate the summer to prep for the August SAT and/or the September ACT.  You might be able to get in the October SAT and ACT if the colleges you are considering will take scores from those tests.

Always check with the prospective colleges on the last date they will accept test scores for scholarship consideration.

Oh, by the way, when you get your TIR/QAS back, Reverse Engineer your incorrect answers so you can learn from your mistakes.

It’s simple enough.  Grade your test.  Take the ones you got wrong, find the correct answer, and figure out how to get that answer.

To take this to the next level, mark the questions you guessed at and do the same. Lastly, I advise you to look into a formalized test prep if you are struggling with raising your scores. These suggestions can help you but if you are really looking for massive score jumps, a test prep program is your best bet.

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