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Checklist for Rising Seniors


Junior year is certainly one of the busiest (if not the busiest) year for many students. Most students have gone through a full round of testing (SAT, PSAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests), survived two semesters of finals (and probably a round of AP exams), as well as kept up with all their extracurricular activities on their resumes. The transition from such a full, busy year to college application season can be a tough one. 

Many students and parents navigate this time all on their own.

Here at AJ, we help students navigate the testing process intensively. We help them plan their testing timelines in order to best prepare them for, eventually, the application process. For many rising seniors, the late summer and fall of their senior years are the last chance to take any exams before sending in their applications. A common question I get from many of my rising seniors is “When is the latest test date that I can take the SAT/ACT?” My answer is always the same: “It depends.”

There are a few things to research as a rising senior in preparation for the application process.

1. What tests did I take that this college will accept? Did I take all the tests that may have been required for my major?

Note that colleges typically do not discriminate between the SAT and ACT. Nearly every college accepts either one, but it’s always a good idea to check whether they’d like to see your SAT Subject Tests, your AP exams and if they require the essay. (We always recommend taking the essay portion of the SAT/ACT so that you always have that door open to add colleges that may require them!) Additionally, if you’re applying to a certain major, it’s helpful to check the notes on whether they “highly recommend” (which usually means you should do them) certain Subject Tests. Additionally, if you’re applying to some sort of specialized or accelerated program, there are typically additional or varying requirements. Be sure to check!

2. When is the last test date they will accept?

Many colleges actually make this information easily accessible on their websites under their admissions requirements. If it’s unclear there, it’s never a bad idea to call the admissions office to simply ask. Most of the time, they will have an answer for you right away. Keep in mind that this likely varies for Early Action/Early Decision and Regular Decision.

3. Will colleges require all of your scores to be sent?

Some colleges allow for score choice, whereas some would like to see all of your attempts. Some colleges will also super score and take the best scores from all your attempts to evaluate your highest scores. Additionally, some schools have test-optional policies where it’s up to you whether you’d like to include it on your application.

4. When are the SAT and ACT offered, just in case you need to take the test again or if you need to squeeze in some subject tests?

SAT test dates: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/dates-deadlines

SAT is usually offered in August, October, November, December, March, May, June. All months have subject test offerings except for March. Note that you cannot take the reasoning test and the subject test on the same day.

ACT test dates: https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/registration.html

ACT is usually offered in September, October, December, February, April and June. (Note that California does not offer the July date).

Remember to register early! Fall dates fill up quickly, so be sure to plan ahead.

Keep in mind that things also vary between schools. Not all public or private schools have the same deadlines. See some examples below of information that colleges have provided on their admissions pages:

UC Berkeley: https://admissions.berkeley.edu/freshmen-requirements


Since Berkeley is a competitive campus, satisfying the minimum requirements is often not enough to be competitive for selection. In addition to the basic admission requirements, the campus selects its freshman class through an assessment that includes a holistic review of your academic performance as measured primarily by:

  • Your weighted and unweighted UC grade point average (calculated using 10th and 11th grade UC-approved courses only)
  • Your planned 12th grade courses
  • Your pattern of grades over time
  • The number of college preparatory, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), honors and transferable college courses you have completed
  • Your level of achievement in those courses relative to other UC applicants at your school
  • Your scores on AP or IB exams
  • Your scores on the ACT Assessment Plus Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test

If you’re applying for fall, be sure to complete these tests by December. SAT Subject Tests are no longer required. However, they are recommended for the College of Engineering and College of Chemistry: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to your intended major. Include the scores in your application. UC uses the highest scores from a single test administration. (Note: Our school code is 4833.) If you report your scores to one campus, they will be shared with every campus to which you’ve applied.

Boston University: http://www.bu.edu/admissions/apply/first-year/#Tests

For students attending secondary school in the US

  • BU requires either the SAT or ACT. BU does not require the optional essay on the SAT test or the optional writing component for the ACT.
  • For any student attending a secondary school outside of the US and who is enrolled in a full International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program
  • Submission of an SAT or ACT test score is not required to complete your application. While the SAT or ACT is no longer an application requirement, standardized test scores may be submitted with your application if you feel they are reflective of your academic ability. Please note that if you are applying for the Boston University Trustee Scholarship, the SAT or ACT is still required.

If you are applying to the College of Fine Arts or the Accelerated Medical Program, please see the different requirements for these programs.

BU superscores both the SAT and ACT. To take advantage of superscoring, we recommend submitting all your test scores if you take more than one test or take a test multiple times. For both the SAT and ACT, BU will use the highest score of each section, regardless of test date, to best represent you as an applicant.

Boston University (Early Decision): http://www.bu.edu/admissions/apply/early-decision/

Early Decision Application Instructions

Early Decision is a binding program available only for high school seniors applying for admission. If you are applying for Early Decision, you must take the ACT no later than the October test date or the SAT no later than November. If you are applying for Early Decision 2, you must take the ACT or SAT no later than the December test date.

College counselors are incredibly helpful during this time. For recommendations on a college counselor, feel free to visit our website here. Doing the research beforehand definitely helps to ease the process and allow for us to help you better plan any test dates or retakes come senior year.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with academics and test prep, please give us a call today!

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