Every fall LEAP receives at least several calls of anxiety-ridden parents whose senior student has yet to have a first attempt at the ACT or SAT, let alone the recommended second attempt. Now they realize their back is up against the wall with limited testing dates and college application deadlines. With the ample number of ACT and SAT test dates year-round, there is no reason for a family to ever get in this position.
Make a Plan
LEAP has been prepping students for college entrance exams since 1999 with great results. From our experience, we advise for most students to start testing in the winter or spring of the junior year. Plan for a second attempt in June when junior year courses are complete. Allow for a third attempt in September or October of the senior year, if necessary. Our rule of thumb is, “Always twice, not usually more than three times.”
Your Personal Timeline
Visit the ACT or SAT sites to locate test dates and deadlines or email LEAP for our resource handout which lists all dates for the next year. There are several personal specifics to consider when choosing your test dates.
Course Load: Do you have a heavier academic load in one grading period than another? Test during a lighter period. When do semester exams fall? You don’t want prep or test the week of exams, if avoidable. Are you taking or have completed algebra 2? There is a lot of algebra 2 on the exams. No harm on taking the first attempt when you have about half or more of the course complete, but a second or third attempt after the course is completed would be wise.
Extra-Curricular Commitments: When is your “heavy season”? It’s better to prep and test in the off-season, if possible. Take part in marching band or play football? August to November is almost impossible. Play softball or baseball in the spring and on a traveling team in the summer? For some, there is no off-season and testing can’t be avoided, so you’ll need to look at the calendar and find the best time to fit it in.
Family Calendar: The April ACT often conflicts with spring breaks, so if you always head south at that time of year, April testing may be out, or you may need to consider testing while on vacation – yes, this is possible. I’ve seen testing on vacation result both positively and negatively. Same thing in June. I’ve met families who always, without fail head on vacation the moment school gets out. This can result in June test date conflicts.
Get out the calendar, choose your test dates (and register early) then select your test prep option that leads right up to your test date. For families in the Greater Cincinnati area, you can see LEAP test prep classes here.