Are you one of the rising number of students who opted to skip the June ACT and take a break instead? In years past, you would have read a fiery blog post from me pretty much BEGGING you to continue studying, despite APs, IBs, Regents, and finals also demanding your attention. After all, if you just spent a few months prepping for April, what’s another 2 months, right? That’s just junior year: suck it up, already.
But that’s not on the agenda for today. In light of the changing ACT (and SAT) test dates, I’m noticing an important trend: the June ACT test date (and the June SAT test date, for that matter!) is no longer a necessary, obvious component of a junior’s standardized testing timeline. It’s now simply one of the many moving pieces of the puzzle. Which means for certain students, it might just be optional!
So…WHY would people skip the June ACT?
There are a few plausible reasons why you may have chosen to sit on the bench for this one. The student who has my blessing skipping the June ACT usually has a combination of 2-3 of these:
1) You’ve already taken the February and/or April tests.
You’ve already prepped, you feel confident in your understanding of the pacing and all key concepts, and at least a couple of your section scores (English, Math, Reading and/or Science) are up to your liking…or at least pretty close.
2) You don’t have to take any SAT II Subject Tests.
If you don’t have to take Subject Tests, that means you don’t have to ration your time and brainpower between remembering your Literature figurative language terminology, your poly-atomic ions for Chemistry and your Math Level 2 list of formulae—AND keeping up your Reading and Science pacing. If all you have to take is the ACT, you could easily take June off and still have plenty of time to perfect your skills to get the score you need.
3) Your finals and final projects are in late May / early June.
If your finals and other tests directly overlap with the second weekend of June, your bandwidth might be stretched too thin to perform well AND take the ACT. And you do need to perform well at the end of junior year! Your transcript is THE most important component of your college applications, so you can’t skimp there. But this only works if you know you have the time to devote once junior year is over.
4) You aren’t ready.
You haven’t properly prepped for the ACT and wouldn’t be ready for June. Again, I get it. If you KNOW you aren’t ready, you probably shouldn’t take the test… but again, this only works if you can commit to a test prep plan and really go for it in July and/or September.
Yes, but I already sat this one out. NOW WHAT?
I’m glad you asked!
1) Set your sights on July.
Though time is not necessarily on your side, you still have plenty to work with, namely the July test date! Because ACTStudent.org added a mid-July test date last year, you now have another option that works for Early Decision and Early Action applications. But this only works if you take the time to study for it—not if you’re at summer camp or studying abroad in Japan!
2) Double down from mid-June to mid-July.
Basically, the moment your finals are over, you need to be thinking about the ACT. Yes, I know you wanted to take a breather after the pressure from school lets up, but didn’t you already take a two-month break from the ACT? The four weeks leading up to the July test are critical! Treat them a bit like boot camp. If you saw a tutor once a week before, see her twice weekly. Try to take 2-3 mock tests in testing conditions the few weeks before. Yes, you can do this by the pool!
2) Take a breather, but not a “break.”
Allow yourself to take a week or two off after the July test, but remember: you still need to stay connected to the content and pacing, because you’ll likely have to do it all again in September and/or October! That means keep a regular study schedule, even if it’s not as intense as the last month was.
4) If you can’t take the July ACT, get serious about September and/or October!
Let’s be real: you need to nail September for Early Decision or Early Action applications. And get your college essays done—you don't have the luxury of putting them off until after the tests anymore!
A shifting testing timeline can be confusing.
I hope these tips help you navigate the changes whether they're something you're thinking about as you consider your plan well in advance (go you!) or whether you're scrambling (breathe, review my archive, and do the best you can with what you're working with). Either way, reach out if you need help making the best plan for YOU.