Plan Ahead for the SAT and ACT

Going to college is an exciting opportunity, but the application process, especially the testing, can be stressful. Planning ahead for the SAT and ACT will help your students minimize the stress and maximize their test scores. These tips for each year of high school will help your students set themselves up for success.

Tips by grade level:

9th Grade:

  • Complete Algebra II
  • Read every day to increase your vocabulary.
  • Get involved in a club or activity you are passionate about.
  • Sign up for the PSAT 8/9 if your school offers it.

10th Grade:

  • Take a challenging math class that includes trigonometry.
  • Take a practice SAT and ACT or try a Combo Test to see which test is better for you.
  • Start working on a list of colleges that interest you.  Check the testing requirements and average test scores of each college on your list.
  • Sign up for a summer test prep course.  For a 200 point increase on the SAT or 6 point increase on the ACT, plan on 20-25 hours of class time and at least 4 practice tests.
  • Take the Pre-ACT if your school offers it.

11th Grade:

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT in October.
  • Go to to register for the SAT or to to register for the ACT.  The registration deadline is usually 4 weeks before the test date. 
  • If you will be requesting accommodations such as extended time, make sure to register 6-8 weeks in advance of the test. 
  • Take your first official test in the fall, such as the September ACT or the November SAT.
  • Consider one-on-one tutoring to address your weak areas.
  • Take your second official test in the spring, such as the March SAT or April ACT.
  • Keep May open for AP exams.

12th Grade:

  • Finalize your list of colleges.
  • It’s not too late to take a test prep class if you still need one.
  • If necessary, take one more official test in the fall to maximize your superscore. 

We have created a new College Night Handout which has all these tips in a 1 page PDF format. Download it free here –