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How many times should my student take the tests?

Most students take the test they are better at three times, twice in the junior year and once senior year.  However, this varies, depending on progress relative to score goals.


How long does it take to get the scores back?


For the SAT, about 17 days in a student’s online account. For the ACT, 10 days in a student’s online account (often the essay score takes a bit longer.) For both tests,  3-4 weeks in the mail and 6-8 weeks for Q+A and TIR.


Should I have the scores sent automatically to any schools?


That depends.  If your student is very anxious, she may feel more confident knowing that no schools will see the scores if they are bad.  However, schools do not penalize students for low scores if they have higher scores from another test, so from an admissions perspective, there is no downside to having scores sent automatically.


Can I send the highest score in one subject from one test date and in another subject from another date?


For the SAT Subject Tests, yes. For the regular SAT and ACT, no. The College Board and ACT send all the scores from any test date that you chose to report. Schools that superscore then consider the highest scores out of all the ones that are sent.


Can my student finish taking the tests by the end of junior year?


Yes, but it is not very common.  May students are still striving for scores for a stretch school. Some students who already have good scores may take the tests again for in-state tuition, scholarships, or honors programs.  Still, if you and your student are satisfied with the scores, he does not have to take any tests in the senior year.


If my student may be recruited for a sport, does she need to start early?


In some sports, coaches may make recruiting decisions during the summer after junior year, so recruited athletes cannot count on taking the test senior year.  We recommend that students who may be recruited take the SAT for the first time in the fall of junior year or in the spring of sophomore year.



Is there any downside to having my student take the SAT even if we think he or she will be better at the ACT (or vice-versa)?


From admissions perspective, there is no downside. If the scores are weak, you don't have to send them. However, some students have a limited tolerance for taking the test or can be very traumatized by receiving low scores. In those circumstances, students should stick with the test that is likely to be better.



What are the SAT Question and Answer Service (Q+A) and the ACT Test Information Release (TIR)?


Both the Q+A and TIR send you a copy of the test booklet and your student’s answers.  They are invaluable for future preparation.  Both arrive 6-8 weeks after the test date. 


When are the Q+A and TIR offered?


The Q+A is available for the October, May, and August SATs.  The TIR is available for the December, April, and June ACTs.  For the November, December, March and June SATs, you can order a report that indicates which questions your student missed, but you cannot get a copy of the questions themselves.  No extra information is available for the September, October, and February ACTs.



Can I order the Q+A or TIR after my student takes the test?


You can order them for a few months after the tests.  They may take up to 8 weeks to arrive.


Aside from the Q+A and TIR, can I get any information about my student’s performance on the tests?


The SAT offers a breakdown by question type and a copy of the essay on your student’s online College Board account.  The ACT offers only the information on the score report. 


Do colleges know when students take the test with extra time?


No and most don’t care.  Only the service academies (e.g., West Point, Navy) do not accept scores with extra time.


Are there any alternatives to the SAT and ACT?


A few schools allow students to submit AP and/or SAT Subject Test scores in place of the regular SAT or ACT.  Check the schools’ websites. 


If schools do not require test scores, are students who do not report them at a disadvantage?


No. If your student’s scores are high, they may strengthen the application.  If they are not, do not report them.

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