When To Take The SAT, ACT & PSAT?

Not sure when to take the SAT, PSAT or ACT or when to prepare? We've put together a timeline and some recommendations you can follow based on your class year.  Or give us a call at 800-2Review (800-273-8439) and we’ll help you figure out what testing schedule best suits your individual needs.

You've got plenty of time. Freshman year is about learning the ropes of high school. Focus on your studies, figure out what subjects interest you most, and get involved in sports and/or extracurricular activities. You don’t need to worry about test prep just yet, but you might want to think about your testing options. You may want to start thinking about taking the PSAT next fall. 9th Grade College Admissions Guide


Continue to focus on your academic curriculum. Start thinking about test preparation, and take a practice SAT or ACT. It's free, you can take it online, it won’t go on your record and your scores will not be sent to any schools.

If you're taking AP classes, sit for the corresponding SAT Subject Test immediately after your AP course so that the material is fresh in your mind. Students typically take the PSAT in October of their sophomore or junior year. The PSAT is an important test for a couple of reasons: it's great practice for the SAT and it's the qualifying test for a National Merit Scholarship. The PSAT is great practice for the SAT, and a high score could qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship. Start your prep in the summer, so you’ll be ready come test time in October.  Summer is a great time to prepare for the PSAT since the test is only administered in October.

See if the SAT or ACT is right for you by taking the Princeton Review Assessment (PRA). The PRA features a sampling of questions from the ACT and SAT, exposing you to both tests in a single exam.  10th Grade College Admissions Guide

Many students choose to prepare the summer before their junior year. It’s a great way to get the bulk of your SAT, ACT and PSAT prep done while you have more free time —and get ahead of the college admissions game.

Many juniors take the PSAT in October followed by the SAT or ACT in the winter or spring. Do you have to take the SAT or ACT in your junior year? No. But it’s generally a good idea because it leaves you plenty of time for a second try if you’re not happy with your score. You don’t want to put the test off until your senior year, while you’re also working on your college applications.

If you're taking AP classes, sit for the corresponding SAT Subject Test immediately after your AP course so that the material is fresh in your mind. Students typically take the these in May and June (and start prepping in March or April).  11th Grade College Admissions Guide

Senior year can be complicated because there are several factors that can affect your testing timeline. Answering the questions below can help you figure out your ideal testing plan.

  • Are you applying early decision?
  • Are you applying to highly competitive colleges?
  • Are your current scores far from your goal scores?
  • Do you plan to take both the SAT and the ACT?

If you’ve answered mostly “yes” to these questions, then October should be your last attempt. If you’ve answered mostly “no”, then you can take the exam up to December of your senior year.  There is still time to prep and get a great score, but the fall of your senior year is your last chance to ace the test. Make the choice for a less stressful September by prepping in the summer. It will free up more time later to work on a killer college application.  If you don’t have time in the summer, then begin your preparation as early as possible after the school year starts.

Did you know that 90% of Princeton Review students get admitted to one of their top-choice schools? Whether you’re taking the test for the first time or just want to boost your score, our courses can help you get the score you need. Guaranteed. Plus, all our summer students can brush up on test-taking techniques with our FREE online Wrap-Up and an additional practice test prior to the October test dates. 12th Grade College Admissions Guide

The SAT is offered nationally 7 times in October, November, December, January, March (or April), May and June.

SAT registration deadlines fall approximately 5 weeks before each test date. To register by mail, fill out the registration form in the College Board's Bulletin for the SAT Program. You can get a free copy of this publication from your school's guidance counselor. Or you can call ETS at 609-771-7600 and they'll send you one free of charge. You can also register online at www.collegeboard.com.

The ACT is offered nationally every year in October, December, February, April, and June. It is also given in September in select cities. Registration deadlines fall approximately five weeks before each test date. You can get registration materials from your school's guidance counselor, or call ACT, Inc. at 319-337-1270 and they'll send you a registration packet. You can also register online at ACT.org.The SAT Subject Tests are offered six times a year in October, November, December, January, May and June.  Students may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on a single test date.   Students cannot take the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT during the same test administration.   Register online at www.collegeboard.com.

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