SAT and ACT Prep Timeline

SAT and ACT: How can two harmless acronyms illicit so much fear?

Being nervous about college admissions exams makes perfect sense, actually. You, amazing, dynamic, hard-working, big-dreaming, eleventh-grader, are being judged based not on your character, but instead on how you do on a standardized test during one short period of your life. That doesn’t seem like an ideal way to judge someone’s college readiness, does it?

While the good news is that more and more colleges reject this arbitrary standard of measuring college-readiness every year, most colleges still require the SAT or ACT for admissions…. Meaning YOU, awesome eleventh-grader, have to take it.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when something is VERY important and also very scary my first instinct is to do something along the lines of this:

bound4college

Ps. This is an actual unstaged photo.

That’s because when things are scary it is human nature to avoid them instead of facing them head on. However, when it comes to the SAT and ACT avoidance is not an option.

The great news for you is that if you start NOW you still have plenty of time to prepare for the tests without it interfering with your academic schedule and workload and you can still get an awesome brag-worthy score way before applications are due (but you won’t brag, because that’s rude - you’ll just want to).


Here is an ideal test prep timeline to follow for an 11th grade student:

  1. Take a full-length practice test for both the SAT AND ACT to find out which test you score higher on. Most students score about the same on both, but many have a preference for one over the other. You can take these tests on your own at home through the official sites:

    1. https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Preparing-for-the-ACT.pdf

    2. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests

  2. If you are hoping to get accommodations (extra-time, etc.) for one of these tests, please speak with your school’s administrator (or guidance counselor or college counselor) to find out the process for getting accommodations at your school. It is important to alert your school to this request immediately as applying for accommodations can take weeks and results are not guaranteed.

  3. Register for the April and June ACTs or March or May and June SAT:

    a.ACT Registration

    b. SAT Registration

    c. *Make sure to indicate when you register if you will be requesting accommodations, and if so, which kind.

  4. Using your assessment as your guide for what areas to focus on, create a test prep plan beginning as soon as possible leading up to a specific test date. Test prep options include:

    a.FREE: studying on your own using Khan Academy for the SAT or the ACT Prep Book (not free, but inexpensive at $32.95).

    b. Talk to your school about what resources they provide and if they offer free or low-cost prep.

    c.Register for a group course.

    d. Hire a private tutor through a reputable tutoring company or using a referral from a friend.

  5. We recommend taking one of your tests in the fall of your senior year. Statistics show that students who take at least one of their tests in the fall see an increase in their scores. At Bound4College we advise our students to take two tests in the spring of their junior year and at least one in the fall of senior year.

  6. Please use Bound4College www.bound4college.com  as a resource to guide you through the essential component of starting your test preparation early and sticking to a prep plan. We are here with trusted referrals for classes or tutoring, and it is our business to make sure you stay on track with your prep plan so that we can help you be admitted into your dream school!

SAT and ACTRebecca Rehfeld