Hey, Seniors: Fall 2020 SAT/ACT: Register Now! Prep… Now?

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I’ve been tutoring for over 15 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many kids looking forward to taking an SAT or ACT as there are this year. Some of you have one or two tests under your belt, while others are still looking for their first test after prepping for one that should have happened three months ago, but everyone is desperately hoping to be able to test in the fall. As you play the waiting game this summer, be sure to get registered ASAP and keep the right mindset.

SAT Registration

The College Board has opened registration for the fall tests and added one in September, so there’s now an SAT in every month from August to December. Even so, seats in some regions – including the DMV – are filling up fast. Check out this incredibly helpful chart that shows just how quickly test centers are reaching capacity. That should be all the impetus you need to register now! And you might want to register for two test dates rather than just one to be on the safe side…

ACT Registration

Fall ACTs start in September, but registration is not currently open. Historically, the ACT doesn’t open registration for the fall tests until registration closes for the July test date. This year, the last day of late registration for July is Fri., June 26, so you might want to start checking the ACT website very soon after that. You can also keep an eye on your inbox, since we’ll be letting everyone know when registration officially opens. The ACT hasn’t added any extra test dates this year, so it’ll be important to register as early as possible to ensure you get a seat at a convenient test center. And two test dates are better than one as a backstop against the uncertainty that may persist into the fall.

So How Do You Prepare?

You’ve still got literally months before you’ll be testing, so what do you do now? The first thing to do is to treat these tests like the opportunity they are. If there’s one good thing that’s come of this testing mess, it’s how students’ perspectives have been changed. It’s no longer, “I hate that I’ve got to take the SAT,” but, instead, “I hope I get to take the SAT.” And that’s amazing. If, for some reason, you don’t get to test this fall or if the test doesn’t go your way on your one and only chance to take it, you know just about every college you care about has become Test Optional for next year. Heck, even Harvard announced that policy change this week. But, on the other hand, I can’t help but think a super set of scores will be as helpful this year as it’s ever been – if not more so. So embrace that opportunity to have one great Saturday morning and knock it out of the park.

How you prepare to do that depends on where you are in the process and how you feel. Many of my students are a little burned out by prepping for tests only to see them cancelled at the last minute. And I don’t blame them one bit. It’s super frustrating. If that’s you, don’t feel that you need to ramp up the pressure or the prep. If you’ve been hitting your goal scores on practice tests, that means you’ve already acquired the skills you need to be sharp on test day. And it’s way harder to sharpen a knife than to keep it sharp, so don’t overdo it. Take some practice tests here and there. Talk to your tutor about what makes sense for a prep program that keeps you in top form without making you crazy.

If, on the other hand, you never felt quite ready to test and you’re motivated to do better, this additional time to prepare is a gift. I also suspect that you’ve got a little extra time on your hands this summer, so prepping for the fall test should be doable. There’s no reason not to start now while you’ve still got your “school brain” engaged. Don’t give that summer rust a chance to set in! You’ve got plenty of time to identify and work on the skills you need to be ready in the fall, be they brushing up on the grammar rules, refreshing those geometry formulas, or understanding more about the kinds of questions and trap answers that await you on the reading section.

No matter what the fall and future hold, we wish you the very best of luck and are, as always, here to answer any questions you have and offer whatever level of help makes sense for you.

Aaron Golumbfskie

Senior Tutor & Education Director

Aaron is the Education Director at PrepMatters and has logged more than 10,000 hours of one-on-one tutoring, helping teens change their self-images and achieve success, whether on standardized tests or in academic classes. He continues to tutor every day, but, realizing that individual efforts don’t scale very well, he hopes to serve even more students by spending much of his time creating pe...

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