Sophomores: PSAT, Pre-ACT and Subject Tests

Sophomores —

Fall is time for you to test the waters of standardized testing. Many of you have just taken the PSAT and/or Pre-ACT at school. I hope you treated this as an opportunity and not something to dread. It has given you your first “feel” of the standardized testing that may influence your college admission options. You may come away with a preference between the SAT and ACT formats; one test may feel easier than the other. Compare the scores you receive on each. If your school does not offer the chance to take both testing formats, ask your guidance counselor if he or she would consider administering the other test to interested students.

Use your PSAT/Pre-ACT performance to help you choose whether to take the SAT or ACT as your official standardized exam. The PSAT and Pre-ACT score reports will also help you determine the areas in which you’ll need to improve for the SAT and ACT.

The end of your first quarter of school is also a good time to think about the courses you are taking and, if any are subjects you excel in, whether you should take that SAT Subject Test in May or June of your sophomore year, while the material is still fresh in your mind. If you take any Honors or AP classes during your sophomore year, for example, then you’ll want to take the Subject Tests in those areas right away.

Should you decide to take a Subject Test at the end of your sophomore year, be sure to prepare for it. In addition to your in-school studies in each subject, you should definitely order a dedicated commercial prep book for each SAT subject you will test in and work through each book. Our students have reported good results from using Barrons, The Princeton Review, Peterson’s and other commercial ‘cram’ books. Read user reviews to decide which prep book is best for you. Each prep book includes several full practice tests.

Beginning to think about standardized testing during your sophomore year will reduce your stress levels during junior year, when “it really matters!”

Changes to Standardized Test Dates

As you know, standardized testing plays a role in building competitive college applications in the U.S.  The College Board (SAT and Subject Tests) and ACT have recently been in the news because of changes they are making to their testing schedules.

The good news is that both the College Board and ACT have added summer test dates! The College Board debuts an August SAT this year (at the expense of the January test date, which will be eliminated), while the ACT has announced a July exam date beginning in 2018. Summer testing is great for students who want to do focused test prep in the early summer immediately before these new test dates, as well as for rising seniors who need an extra chance to boost their scores before the rigors of senior year and the application season. While July and August test dates may be more challenging for students who have summer jobs or family travel plans, expect these dates to fill up fast and plan to register early!

The bad news is that the number of international administrations of the SAT has been reduced. The SAT will be offered abroad only four times per year, while Subject Tests will be offered five times. As a result, testing locations abroad will fill up quickly, and it will be even more important for international students to plan ahead and be strategic in choosing test dates.

Click here for the College Goals’ document that lists SAT and ACT tests by date for 2017-2018.

Take this opportunity to discuss your standardized testing plan with your college counselor and, in accordance with your plan, to register as early as possible for testing dates and locations!

SAT and ACT Testing by Date 2017-2018

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*except New York sites

  • Not all testing sites are scheduled to test on every test date. Be sure to check online.
  • Register as early as possible for a testing date and site, because testing sites will fill up quickly.
  • Register for the SAT and Subject Tests at:
  • Not all Subject Tests are offered on each test date. Be sure to check online.
  • Register for the ACT at: