Seven Things You Need to Know About the SAT and ACT This Summer
For decades, anxious teenagers and their parents have complained about the inability to take the SAT and ACT in summer.
For many families, making these standardized tests available in summer seemed obvious. Finally, the test makers have listened.
This year, students will be able schedule the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT for summer.
Here are seven things you should consider about this new testing opportunity and the one test option that you have lost:
1. Summer is an Opportunity
Taking the SAT in August will be a superior time for many teenagers because they will not experience the academic distractions that the rest of the year brings.
For instance, the College Board has traditionally offered the SAT in May, but that is the month when students are studying for Advanced Placement (AP) tests. The SAT in early June often coincides with students studying for their high school final exams.
After the June test date, students traditionally have had to wait four months when high school was in full gear before getting another SAT opportunity.
The August SAT can be a perfectly timed test to lock in the gains students have gotten from doing test prep in the summer.
“Student who now spend 15 to 45 minutes a day in the summer studying for the test can destroy the SAT in August,” says Alberto Howe, the founder of Affordable College Solutions, a test-prep firm in South Florida.
2. The August Test Helps Early Applications
The summer testing date can dovetail with student plans to apply to colleges with early decision and early action applications. Many students who apply to universities early take the SAT in early June. Previously, if they needed a better score, they had to wait until October to take the test again.
If their June test results aren’t good enough, they can sit for the exam in August and, if necessary, the October date can be the backup.
3. The August Test is an Option for Young, High-Achieving Students
The August testing date can be an attractive option for rising juniors who have completed Algebra II or its equivalent. Conventional wisdom suggests that students should not attempt the test until they are juniors and preferably second-semester juniors.
Jed Applerouth, founder and chief executive officer of Applerouth Tutoring, which is based in Georgia, says the conventional wisdom doesn’t apply to all students.
“As long as a student has taken the relevant math, there is no downside to starting testing early in junior year,” Applerouth says. “Many of our advanced students are happy to get testing out of the way early their junior year.”
“They will frequently prepare for the October PSAT, seeking National Merit status and then move on to the official tests. It’s not unusual for one of our top performing juniors to take the October, November and December SATs, completing their testing before first semester exams.”
4. The ACT will have a Summer Test
With the SAT now offering a summer testing date, it is not surprising that ACT Inc., its arch rival, decided to roll out a summer test. The inaugural ACT summer test will be July 14, 2018.
In its statement during the announcement earlier this year, an ACT executive said the move was in response to feedback from students, colleges and teachers who wanted the July date for early admission application deadlines.
5. Finishing Testing in Summer Helps Seniors
Some teenagers want to finish their SAT and/or ACT standardized testing so they can focus on their college admissions applications, which can be stressful and time consuming.
6. Enroll for the August Test ASAP
If you decide the SAT is right for you, there is still time to register for the August SAT although you should do it now.
There is not as much seating capacity for the summer test. Here are some examples comparing the August test date with the Oct. 7 date:
August: 261 testing locations
October: 384 testing locations
August: 28 testing locations
October: 66 testing locations
August: 65 testing locations
October: 269 testing locations
August: 45 testing locations
October: 72 testing locations
August: 265 testing locations
October: 376 testing locations
The availability of fewer testing locations is not surprising. One reason why summer testing hasn’t been offered in many decades is because school districts aren’t thrilled with opening their facilities and staffing the testing.
You can see the number and location of testing dates in any state and city by clicking on the College Board’s Find Test Centers link.
7. The Number of SAT Dates will Remain the Same
The College Board will continue to offer a total of seven testing dates during the calendar year. After adding the August testing date, the College Board eliminated the January option, which was less popular.
Some students used the January date in an attempt to boost their scores if they ended up on college wait lists. A better score would sometimes increase admission chances. Most colleges also would allow students to submit January scores even if regular applications were due earlier.
The elimination of the January test means where will be a three-month gap between the December SAT and the next one, which won’t be offered until March.
If juniors take the SAT in December and determine that they need to take it again, they will probably have to study harder and longer than if the wait was still only a month.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a best-selling author, speaker and journalist. Her book, The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, is available on Amazon.com.