Selecting the optimal testing plan doesn’t have to be accidental. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
Many considerations contribute to choosing the right test dates—school activities, vacations, preparation level, and more.
In your student’s second semester of 11th grade, testing should be a priority, yet with seven national test dates falling from February to July, it can be challenging to know which test dates are best.
(It can feel like following a complicated flow chart of ifs and thens.)
We’re ready to help make it easier.
First question: Has your student tested previously?
If no, check out our analysis of test dates, complete with pros and cons in the sections below.
If yes, how close was your student to his or her goals?
For those who fall into the exciting category of being nearly there, we recommend that you talk to a Director to plan out the remainder of your test dates.
For those who haven’t reached their goals, read on.
SAT® Testing Recommendations
The SAT® test can be a great first testing experience because testers get slightly more time per question than on the ACT® test. Plus, there isn’t any math beyond Algebra II.
Good preparation can help students understand how to interpret what the test is asking and how to locate the answer quickly. But when is the SAT® test offered for the remainder of this school year?
The March testing date generally falls during most students’ Spring Break.
This may seem off-putting, but if at all humanly possible, 11th graders should sit for this test if they haven’t tested before. After March there are only two remaining test dates in 11th grade—May and June—and both are better approached as second test dates.
Students who want to be done with testing before senior year (which should be all students!) should take advantage of this somewhat earlier testing opportunity.
The May testing date nearly always falls during AP® test week. Gross.
If your student is taking AP® tests, don’t add extra stress during this time. It’s better to skip May and test in June.
If your student doesn’t have any AP® tests, this month is a great time for a second test. Imagine meeting your score goal now and having the whole summer to celebrate!
Many students applying to highly-competitive colleges will take SAT Subject Tests™ in May. Consult a Director if you’re uncertain if your student should take SAT Subject Tests™.
The June testing date usually occurs early in the month before some schools in the country let out for the summer.
This makes it a good second test date for students who take AP® tests or whose finals coincide with the May date.
Bottom line: The optimal testing plan for 11th graders who are starting now is March and May or March and June. This is not our recommendation for students we are talking to earlier in 11th grade, but it is the best plan for students now.
Visit www.collegeboard.org to register for the SAT® test.
ACT® Testing Recommendations
The ACT® test has a somewhat more robust math section than the SAT® test, which makes it both more beloved and more feared, depending on the student’s preferences.
The February test date is a good time for 11th graders who are in Pre-Calculus or Calculus to test for the first time. This date isn’t recommended for Algebra II students.
February has the advantages of being unlikely to conflict with school activities and having multiple options for retesting if your scores aren’t quite to your goal yet.
The April test date is a popular first time to test because it falls in the lull between Spring Break and AP® tests.
Though it can be difficult to manage for those in spring sports, it’s our recommended option for first testing for Algebra II students. It also offers two opportunities for retesting.
The June test date happens after many high schools are out for summer, which can allow for less stress. That makes it a great option for a second test for either Pre-Cal or Algebra II students.
The July test date falls smack in the middle of summer.
On the one hand, this late date allows time for focused preparation after school gets out. It’s good for students who have a whole lot going on during the school year and could squeeze in only one test date.
On the other hand, it can interfere with vacations or seem so distant that students get complacent about test prep during their break from school.
It can be a good second test date for those who have the stamina to put in the test prep during summer break.
Bottom line: Pre-Cal students should take the ACT® test for the first time in February or April and for the second time in April, June, or July. Algebra II students should test in April and June or April and July.
Visit actstudent.org to register.
Choosing a Testing Plan
Testing is complicated, and it takes a lot of effort to choose the perfect times to test.
If you prepare properly, you can belong to that amazing group of students who are finished testing before 12th grade. Some focused preparation now can make your entire life easier.
Still confused about timing? A KD College Prep Director can talk you through it and help you choose the best possible testing plan.