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When should you start preparing for the SAT or ACT?

June 2017

Students often ask us when they should start thinking about their preparations for applying to US Colleges, and particularly when they should start practising for their SAT or ACT exams.

The application window for US colleges opens in the autumn (‘fall’) of the year before you want to go. So if you want to start university in September 2018, you have to apply in November or December 2017. This means that you should have your SAT or ACT scores before then!

There are SAT and ACT test dates in the UK from September to December, and then some more in March, April, May and June. But don’t forget that you might have to do SAT II Subject Tests, and you may have to retake some tests, so even starting in September might be too late. The absolute latest you could do your tests is in December of the year before you want to go, but this is pushing it.

There is a safer way: start early! If you want to start college in September 2019, aim to do your first test in December 2017, and then another one in the spring of 2018. You could, for example, do your ACT in December 2017 and then again in June 2018, and get it out of the way entirely. Then you could do your SAT Subject Tests in October 2018. Even if you need to retake in November, you will have plenty of time to get everything together, and you won’t be as stressed.

Remember also that in your final year of school you will have many other exams and coursework to contend with. Getting prepared early will help you manage all of that.

In general:
  • Start preparing in the summer after Year 11 (Grade 10)
  • If you're coming to the process later than, this, start preparing now!
  • Aim to take your first tests in Year 12 (Grade 11)
  • Finish taking your tests in the first term of Year 13 (Grade 12)
So the simple answer is: start preparing now! Beginning to practise and perhaps having tuition or courses as soon as possible will help make sure you're well on track to getting that place at a top US College.

Note: The SAT changed in early 2016, so it's very important that you make the right decision as to which test to take! Our SAT/ACT Diagnostic Test can help you.

Make sure you know when the international SAT dates and ACT dates are, and to decide whether you should take the SAT or the ACT, read this. If you have any other questions or want to get started with tutoring or courses for the SAT or ACT, get in touch and we’ll help you out immediately.
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