SAT and ACT Resources

One of our readers wrote in and suggested that we provide some guidance for high school students looking to take the SAT in the spring.  We thought this was a great idea and have compiled information regarding the exam.  We’ve also included information on the ACT, which was accepted in lieu of the SAT at all four year colleges in the U.S. as of 2007. What are the SAT and ACT?

The SAT and ACT are admissions exams used to evaluate college applicants.  At least one of the tests is required for admission to most two- and four-year colleges, though they are not typically required for community colleges.  The SAT tests three subjects; reading, writing and math.  The ACT tests these three subjects as well as science reasoning.

When should the SAT and ACT be taken? According to the College Board, the company that administers the SAT, most students take the test once in the spring of their junior year, then again in the fall of their senior year.  It is important to take the test early enough to allow scores to be sent to admissions departments prior to application deadlines, which are typically in early January.  The SAT takes approximately one month to be scored and sent.  The ACT takes two months.

The ACT is offered February 9 (Register by January 11), April 13 (Register by March 8) and June 8 (Register by May 3) Information from ACT's website


Both the SAT and ACT are offered infrequently.  The ACT is administered 6 times a year.  The three test dates above have been set for 2013.  The SAT has set the four test dates below for 2013.

The SAT is offered January 26 (Register by December 28), March 9 (Register by February 8), May 4 (Register by April 5) and June 1 (Register by May 2) Information from College Board's website.


Review Information for the SAT and ACT               The College Board offers free SAT review information, including a full length practice test on their website. They also offer a Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMQST), which provides practice for the SAT and gives students a chance to gain access to college and career planning tools, as well as enter NMSC scholarship programs.  The ACT also offers review questions as well as a practice test.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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