Should You Take the SAT/ACT Over the Summer?

There are different routes and options when planning your college career. Find out if taking the summer SAT/ACT is right for you.

portrait of Emily Gillespie-Lord
by Emily Gillespie-Lord

Published on June 23, 2022 · Updated on June 24, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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Should You Take the SAT/ACT Over the Summer?
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Many colleges and universities require students to take either the ACT or SAT to be considered for admission. Students must decide which test to take, when to take it, and how many times to sit for the exam.

During the school year, students are expected to juggle their regular coursework and extracurricular activities while preparing for these tests. As a result, many students benefit from taking the ACT or SAT in the summer.

Can You Take the SAT/ACT Over the Summer?

Both the SAT and ACT are available to students during the summer. Registration for the ACT and SAT in the summer can be done online or by mail.

Before the introduction of summer testing dates, students didn't always receive their scores in time to schedule a retake, submit scores with scholarship applications, or meet early admission deadlines.

After 40 years of only offering test dates during the school year, the College Board added SAT summer testing dates in 2017. The ACT followed suit, offering summer test dates for the first time in 2018.

When Are the SAT/ACT Summer Test Dates?

The number of available testing seats during the summer is typically more limited than during the school year. Make sure you register early for your desired summer test date in order to secure your spot.

SAT/ACT Summer Test Dates
Test Dates (SAT/ACT) Registration Deadline When You Receive Scores* When Colleges Receive Scores*
July 16, 2022 (ACT) June 17, 2022 July 26 - Aug. 9, 2022 July 30 - Sept. 9, 2022
Aug. 27, 2022 (SAT) July 29, 2022 Sept. 9, 2022 Sept. 19, 2022
June 3, 2023 (SAT) May 4, 2023 July 8, 2023 July 18, 2023
June 10, 2023 (ACT) May 5, 2023 June 29 - July 4, 2023 June 24 - Aug. 4, 2023
July 15, 2023 (ACT) June 16, 2023 July 25 - Aug. 8, 2023 July 29 - Sept. 8, 2023

*Indicates an estimated date or time frame.

The Pros and Cons of Taking the SAT/ACT in the Summer

Students may not like the idea of studying for and taking such an important test during their summer vacation. There are a few pros and cons to consider before registering for the SAT or ACT in the summer.

Pro: You May Have More Free Time to Study

During the school year, students must juggle coursework, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments. Many students manage to do this every year, but it's no easy feat.

During the summers, if you don't have a regular course load, you may have more time to study and take ACT and SAT practice tests. Depending on your scheduled test date, you'll likely have plenty of time to study and enjoy your break.

Con: You Have to Study Over the Summer

Academic burnout is something to be wary of. Even the most studious students need a break! Forcing yourself to think about test strategy, flashcards, and practice tests all summer could demotivate you and make it hard to focus.

Pro: You Should Get Scores in Time to Apply Early

Taking the SAT/ACT in the summer allows you to apply for early action or early decision. Applications for early admission are usually due in November.

For 2022, August SAT scores come out and reach colleges by mid- to late September. July ACT scores will be released to colleges in early to mid-September. Applying early can increase your chances of acceptance and allow you to finish the application process sooner.

Con: There Are Usually Fewer Testing Centers

During the school year, many high schools hold ACT and SAT test administrations. But during the summer, these schools are empty and most staff are on summer vacation.

As a result, summer testing locations are usually more limited and may not be easily accessible for many students. Fewer testing locations also means fewer spots are available to students hoping to take one of these tests in the summer months.

Pro: You Can Use Fall Test Dates to Improve Scores

Scores from summer testing dates are released early enough to allow students to retake the SAT/ACT in the fall if they choose.

Taking these tests during the summer can help you figure out what sections you need to spend more time on to improve. Many students see their SAT scores and ACT scores improve on their second or third try.

Con: Low-Income Students May Not Benefit From Summer Testing

Many schools offer SAT/ACT testing on a school day, which is convenient and often free for students. Since school-day testing only takes place during the school year, low-income students may not benefit from summer tests, which cost money and require you to travel to a different location.

Furthermore, many students rely on ACT fee waivers and SAT fee waivers, which are handled by school counselors. Waivers may be harder to find during the summer when school staff members are on vacation.

When Should You Take the SAT/ACT: Summer or Fall?

Deciding when to take the SAT or ACT depends on your plans for college. Testing during the summer may be in your best interest if you want the freedom to schedule a retest in the fall. Summer testing can also allow you to apply early to colleges and submit scholarship applications sooner.

On the other hand, if you only plan to take the SAT/ACT once or twice, it might not be worth the hassle of taking a summer test. And if you don't place as much importance on getting a top score, you may not feel the need to test during the summer.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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