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ACT/State SAT Suggested Timeline

There are 28 states that administer a taxpayer-funded state ACT or SAT to their public school juniors only during the school day, typically in early April. These scores are used to monitor school-wide progress.

20 states administering State ACT:

Alabama
Arkansas
Hawaii
Kentucky
Louisiana
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio*
Oklahoma*
South Carolina
Tennessee
Utah
Wisconsin
Wyoming

8 states administering State SAT:

Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Idaho
Illinois
Maine
Michigan
New Hampshire

*Ohio and Oklahoma require each public school district to administer a “free” ACT or SAT but allow each district to choose which test they will use. 415 of Oklahoma’s 425 public school districts chose the ACT. Approximately 95 percent of Ohio’s 1,245 public high schools chose the ACT.

If your state offers a State ACT then you are in great shape. If your state offers a State SAT, then you just need to know how to take advantage of it in order to prepare for the national June ACT – which is the most popular college admissions test date nationally and internationally.

If your student attends a private school or is homeschooled, then the suggested timeline still applies. They just skip the state test step.

Suggested Timeline

Regardless of when a student starts or stops taking college admission exams like the ACT or SAT, the middle of the timeline should include the following:

  1. All juniors should take the December ACT test. This test date is special because it allows a student to buy back a copy of their test and their answers. This is called a Test Information Release (TIR).

  2. The December ACT scores will be online before Christmas and the TIR will arrive in the middle of January. This helps the student prepare for the state SAT and/or the National April ACT.

  3. Public school juniors in the states listed above will take the State ACT or SAT, usually by early April. Dates can vary by state.

  4. Private school juniors should take the National April ACT. Like the December test date, a student can get the TIR for the April ACT.

  5. There will be many public-school juniors that will take the state SAT and National April ACT. These college-bound students are using these tests as benchmarks in preparation for the June ACT.

  6. The National June ACT is now the most popular test date in Illinois as well as nationally. It takes place the second Saturday after Memorial Day.

    Most students have at least a two-week window between the last day of school and the June ACT: no seven-hour school day, no homework, no AP tests, no final exams, and no school activities like sports. Students can just focus on preparing for the June ACT without worrying about the typical school year distractions.

    The June ACT scores will be online ten days after the test is given, so students can then focus on college visits and enjoy the rest of their summer!

Similar to a sport, the more you practice leading up to a competition, the better you become. Through repetition and experience you are able to learn from your mistakes and improve your level of performance.

You can take the ACT up to 12 times. Colleges only care about your highest score. The ACT is offered seven times a year (eight times if your state requires all public school students to take the ACT).


The key is no matter what time of the year it is, you need to start preparing as soon as possible.