The conventional wisdom is that juniors should take the SAT or ACT sometime in the spring of their junior year. If need be, they retake it in the fall of their senior year.
If you don’t have any reason not to such as playing a fall sport, my recommendation is to take the exam as early as possible in the fall of their junior year.
Here are my reasons:
- Most students will be taking the PSAT in their junior year when it “counts” for National Merit Scholarships. Why not kill two birds with one stone and prepare for both tests at the same time?
- Reduce the stress of the junior spring. Juniors will already be asking teachers for recommendations, preparing for final competitions in extra-curricular activities, class projects, final exams, and possibly AP exams. You have to do these things in the spring, you don’t have to take the ACT or SAT in the spring.
- It isn’t just the exam but the preparation. Students will be “fresher” and better able to concentrate on test preparation at the end of summer and beginning of the fall compared to the spring. How many students want to start a study class for the SAT or ACT during spring break? And this preparation will help you on the PSAT as suggested in the first reason.
- The sooner you know your test scores, the sooner you can start targeting colleges to build your college search list.
- If you decide you want to retake the exam, you will have a lot more options of when to retake it.
For more reading: