These are general scheduling suggestions that should be applied with the individual’s schedule in mind. Enlist a counselor (school or private) to help assure your testing schedule is sensible.
Summer tends to be the best time to concentrate on SAT/ACT preparation. Since the SAT and ACT are largely tests of skills, rather than memorization, there is little diminution in abilities, even with a two month hiatus between the summer classes and test day. Now that tests are given in the late summer (SAT in August, ACT in early September) there is never a need for a long hiatus.
To prevent against ANY diminution following early summer study, we suggest a study regime of a Practice Test and a review session (60 – 150 minutes) during each week when classes are not in session. Ivy Bound holds Practice Tests and Review sessions from mid-July through late November.
We have one piece of advice that far too many students don’t follow: START EARLY. Colleges do not penalize an applicant for taking the SAT multiple times. The SAT and ACT do not reward skills acquired only in Senior year. The only academic background needed to take advantage of the Ivy Bound course is a semester each of Algebra I and Geometry. Since most students have this by tenth grade, there is nothing wrong with taking the ACT or SAT the summer following 10th grade. We like to see kids sitting on solid scores by fall of Junior year. That frees them to concentrate on their academics in Junior spring and Senior year. It also frees them to take the courses they really want to, participate in the extra-currics they might be tempted to forgo if ACT/SAT is still an issue. It just may allow the kids to have fun, which we’re in favor of too.
All other things being equal, if you need to prepare for the ACT or SAT, do so when you have the most time. If it’s during the academic year, avoid committing to the full course in the same semester as playing a varsity sport. Since the SAT Subject Tests cannot be taken on the same test date as the SAT, and because March is not an available SAT Subject Test date, and since there is no longer a January Test date, plan ahead.
On SAT Subject Tests that require lots of memorization, it is good to schedule them to coincide with the end of a semester, when the student has to review for finals anyhow. Thus, we like seeing students scheduling SAT Subject Tests for May and June. For other Subject Tests, the try to avoid dates when you might also want to take the SAT. Thus, summer study which allows the SAT to be taken in August and October, allows Subject Tests in November and December.