Mar 17, 2021
TIP: If standardized tests are required, they matter a lot. Plus, timing is everything.
- The moment a student starts taking standardized tests, it becomes a part of their testing history. Not all colleges allow students to pick and choose which scores they send. At some colleges, the student is required to send all scores no matter when they took them in high school.
- Students should take the ACT or SAT no more than three times. Some colleges do not look kindly on students who take it more than that. Also, data shows that after a certain number of attempts, there is a diminishing return.
- Unless the student is getting their target score on practice exams (or is being heavily recruited by a D-1 athletic program), they should wait until January, February, or March of junior year to take the test for the first time. This leaves the door open to take the test one more time by the end of junior year if they so choose.
- Students who take their final ACT or SAT in the fall of senior year typically receive their highest score. To get that score, test prep over the summer before senior year is essential.
- Subject tests are not necessary unless a student is interested in the most selective colleges in the country. Check a college’s admissions website before signing up for Subject Tests.
- Before choosing which test (SAT or ACT) to take, students should wait to see their junior year PSAT results and take a full-length practice ACT test to determine which test is better suited for them.
- Students who take back to back standardized tests rarely see their scores improve significantly. In fact, it is not unusual for their scores to go down if they take each test with little time in between. There should be plenty of time in between each test to be able to get scores returned, regroup, and recharge.
There are over one thousand test optional colleges. Go to fairtest.org for a full list. If a college offers a test optional policy, a student does not need to submit their scores for admission. However, students with a very strong high school record are going to be more competitive in a test optional pool.