act-or-satWhen Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

By: Tyler Mathena

The SAT and ACT are daunting for many students. The scores on these two tests (or just one) can determine what colleges you can attend, what scholarships you can apply for, and whether or not you get into the honors program. All of these have the potential to impact your life, for better or worse, so it is best to be well-informed and prepared.

Everyone knows the magnitude of these tests, and a Google search for test taking tips returns over 18 million results. Most people know how, why, and where to take the test, but it is rarely discussed WHEN students should take it.

The reading and grammar concepts on both tests are mostly covered before high school, it is just a matter of recalling all of the rules and vocabulary. The math section, on the other hand, contains information that students learn in high school classes. After taking Geometry and Algebra, you should have learned most of the content, but do not be discouraged if there are questions you can not figure out! Some of these questions require a different approach or way of thinking, which is often where the strategy comes into play.

Even if you have not done all of the math courses to get a perfect score on the math section of the tests, you should still take it. I would recommend taking both tests at least once, starting towards the end of your sophomore year. This way, there is plenty of time to improve if you do not get the score you want the first time. After getting your score back, look over what your weak spots are and do whatever it takes to strengthen those areas. If you take the test again after studying from your previous results and do not improve, it may be wise to start working with a tutor once or twice a week to get to your preferred score.

For most college applications, you should take the ACT and SAT for the last time in September or October of your senior year. Most colleges have an option to submit your application early so that you know if you are accepted or not sooner. Early decision also automatically makes you eligible for certain scholarships at some colleges. The deadlines typically fall in mid-October to early November.

The SAT and ACT are important. These tests can determine what colleges you get into and how much you pay. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to take them. The best time to take the SAT or ACT is now. You can always retake it, as lower scores do not affect you at all, so get ahead of the game; you won’t regret it.