Making plans became nearly impossible during 2020, with the coronavirus halting travel and gatherings of more than a few people. Routine standardized testing was greatly impacted as test dates were continually canceled and postponed. However, many people have begun dusting off their planners as vaccines are rolled out and restrictions are lessening. With a promise of normalcy around the corner, many parents may be wondering how to begin planning for their student’s ACT and SAT. There are several opportunities for testing throughout the coming months, as cancellations are gradually becoming a thing of the past. So what considerations should be made when planning SAT or ACT test dates?

The First Test

Students should plan on taking their first official test the summer after sophomore year. This gives students plenty of time before college admissions deadlines. It should be noted that much of the math content comes from geometry and algebra 2, so it is helpful if students have fulfilled both credits before sitting for a test. Students can register for the ACT test in June or July,* and the SAT test in June.

*The July ACT test date is not available in New York.

Number of Times

A student should plan to take the test two or three times to reach his or her goal test score. Some students may need to take the test more than others if they are having a hard time reaching their goal scores or started testing before the necessary math credits were fulfilled. There are several opportunities available throughout the year, with seven ACT test dates as well as seven SAT dates.

The Ideal Timeline

Ideally, students should consider beginning test prep the summer following the conclusion of sophomore year. Some students may benefit from starting to prepare in late spring if their schedules allow. They should plan to take the first test the summer after sophomore year, with a second test scheduled in fall of junior year. If a third test sitting is needed, it should be scheduled for winter or spring of junior year. This timeline is not the best fit for everyone, as some students may not have fulfilled all math credits or may have busy schedules during the summer or fall. In that case, the timeline should be pushed back with the first test no later than spring of junior year. The charts below provide more information on specific test dates and registration deadlines.

sat act test dates

The Last Test

College admissions deadlines are typically in December or January of a student’s senior year. While some schools will accept December test dates, it is recommended that students plan for the last test to be no later than October or November of senior year. This is because it takes time for scores to be processed, and the school needs to receive all materials prior to the admissions deadline for consideration.


It is helpful to parallel test date registrations with a test prep program. Students often don’t reach their goal test scores because of insufficient preparation. When students wait to take the ACT or SAT right before college application due dates, they are usually riddled with stress resulting in lower test performance. Sufficient time to prepare before sitting for a test date allows students to build confidence and improve scores. Our team at A-List is happy to help you develop a test prep plan in accordance with planned test dates. You can schedule a call here!