Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?
There is no single answer that will fit all students. Traditionally, the standardized test "process" begins in sophomore year when students can take the PSAT (practice for the SAT) and/or the PLAN (practice for the ACT). The PSAT can be taken once more during the fall of junior year. Following this, most students make a plan to take one or both tests during the second semester of their junior year. If the student has had the opportunity to take both the PSAT and PLAN, they could use their scores and experiences from these tests to help determine which regular standardized test is best for them. If they have only taken one (or none), it would be my advice to take both the ACT and SAT at some point prior to the end of the student's junior year (e.g. April ACT, May or June SAT). By doing so, the student can evaluate which test resulted in a more favorable score and make plans to retake a test in the fall of senior year, if necessary. Most students take the SAT and/or ACT two times. Studies show that taking three or more tests does not typically result in a significant increase in scores. Any student looking to apply to a highly selective college will also want to be mindful that some colleges will require them to take 2-3 SAT Subject Tests as part of their admission process. Subject Tests can not be taken on the same day as the regular SAT Reasoning Test.