College and Career

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College and Career Testing
School CEEB Code: 052862   

When should the ACT or SAT be taken?

A big dilemma for students and families is attempting to stay on track for the many deadlines coming up in high school preparing for college. Chief among them is when to take the ACT or SAT. Should it be taken as soon as possible? Should you wait until senior year?

If it is in your plans to attend a 4-year college or university after graduation, you will be required to take either the ACT (with the optional writing) or the Reasoning SAT to be eligible for admittance. If you attend a community college first and transfer, these assessments are not required. Depending on the college you select, you may also need to take Subject Tests.

Generally speaking, we recommend students spend their freshmen and sophomore years preparing to take the ACT or SAT during their junior year. They may do things such as take the PSAT in October of the 9th, 10th and 11th grade year. They can supplement that with a possible prep course, self-study using a practice booklet, or a number of other aids. Then, in the Spring, they should start taking the actual test.

During the Fall of the senior year, students will have a couple of opportunities to increase their scores if they so choose. Of course, if students are prepared to take assessments earlier, they are always welcome to do so. For example, suppose you felt confident after taking a related AP course, to take the World History subject test, but you were only in your sophomore year. Nothing is stopping you from taking that exam. We would caution you to determine if you are fully prepared beforehand by checking with College Board.

Colleges always take the best score, whether that is through an ACT or SAT. Please plan ahead. If you decide to wait until your senior year to take one of the tests in November or December, and become ill the day of testing or your car breaks down on the way there, you will simply have no second chances available.

SAT info at       ACT info at


The California State University (CSU) requires you to take the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) exam prior to enrollment in the CSU class unless you are exempt by means of scores earned on other appropriate tests such as the CSU’s Early Assessment Program (EAP) tests in English and Mathematics, the SAT, ACT, or Advanced Placement (AP). The EPT and the ELM are not admission tests; instead, they determine eligibility to enroll in specific courses. If you are required to take the EPT and the ELM but fail to do so, you will not be allowed to register for General Education courses at the CSU. You may take the EPT, ELM or both at a campus near you or where you plan to enroll. For full information click here.

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Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128-3406