Starting August 2017, there will now be an SAT test date at the end of the summer. What are the advantages of taking the SAT in the summer and what’s the best way to prep for the summer SAT?
Read on to find out the summer SAT dates for 2017 and 2018 and what the best way to prep for them are.
When Is the Summer SAT?
There are seven SAT test dates every year (except in the calendar year of 2017, which has eight test dates). The SAT test dates in 2017 are as follows:
- January 21
- March 11
- May 6
- June 3
- August 26 (Summer SAT!)
- October 7
- November 4
- December 2
And here are the 2018 SAT test dates:
- March 10
- May 5
- June 2
- August 25* (Summer SAT!)
- October 6*
- November 3*
- December 1*
*Anticipated test date
Depending on your own preferences and situation, you may decide that the SAT summer test dates are just not for you or that adding the SAT August test date is the best thing that the College Board has ever done. We discuss two pros and two cons of the summer SAT dates in the next few sections of this article.
Pro: More Time to Study = Better Chance of a High Score
The biggest advantage of the new summer SAT date is that over the summer, you’ll have no school and little to no schoolwork, which means you can devote your entire summer to studying for the SAT.
No, spending your summer break studying for the SAT doesn’t really sound like a fun time. But the advantages to you and your test score of spending more time studying are clear. Here’s a rough estimate of how long you need to study for each level of score improvement:
During the school year, carving out time to spend on SAT prep (particularly if you need to improve 200+ points) can be extremely difficult. You’re already in school for nearly 40 hours a week, and then there’s homework, extracurriculars, maybe a part-time job, social activity, sleeping (hah)...adding another 7-15 hours a week of SAT studying on top of that for three months might seem impossible.
It’s only during the summer, when you have no school and minimal summer homework, that you’ll be able to really devote yourself to studying for the SAT regularly for significant chunks of time.
Even if you just spend a couple of hours a day on SAT prep between the end of school and the summer SAT, that’s already over a hundred hours of prep! You can find more information about how long you should spend studying for the SAT here.
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Con: Low Motivation
If you’re the type of student who does better in structured environments, you might find it difficult to effectively study for the SAT over the summer. When you’re not in classes every day, it’s easy to fall out of the studying mindset and lose your motivation.
It can also be hard to find the motivation to study because the break between the end of the school year and the August SAT is so long.
You might find yourself procrastinating in June and July, thinking “Eh, I have two months left, I’ll be fine,” and end up not studying at all until August. While it could still end up working out okay, if you can’t get yourself motivated to study it’s unlikely you’ll see big score increases on the test. Plus, you’ll have spent the whole summer with the SAT hanging over your head, which is no one's idea of a good time.
Pro: SAT Summer Prep Programs
Doing a structured SAT prep program or summer camp can help keep you motivated. Rather than having to go to an SAT prep class in the evenings after a long day of school and activities, you'll be able to get started on studying when you're still fresh and energized.
By having a class to go to or a certain amount of prep you have to turn in every day, you’re held accountable for studying. And if you find yourself hating the subject material, you have the light at the end of the tunnel of knowing that if you put in the effort now, you can take the summer SAT right after your SAT summer program ends and then never have to think about it again.
Con: No Summer Vacation
After spending 9-10 months in school mode, your brain could probably use a break, and if you devote your summer to studying for the SAT, you won’t give yourself that time to rest.
Not having a summer break is especially a problem if you’re feeling really burned out at the end of the school year and need the summer to recover before heading back into school-mode. It's also an issue if you’re planning on working full-time during the summer, as studying for the SAT on top of working might be too draining to be effective.
To avoid setting yourself up to fail, as the end of the school year approaches, you need to assess how burned out you are and how busy you're going to be during the summer. We'll talk more about this in Tip #4 in this article.
Don't let this be you.
Summer SAT Prep Tips
To wrap up, here are four tips to guide your prep for the SAT summer test date.
#1: Make a Study Plan
To keep up your motivation, make yourself a summer SAT study plan and stick to it. Plan out to the day and week how much time you’ll spend studying and how often you’ll be taking practice tests.
You can be flexible if you find you’re progressing faster or slower than you expected, but try to stick to your study plan as much as possible.
By planning ahead of time, you’ll also be able to do things like adjust for mandatory family vacations or other summer activities.
Learn how to find your SAT target score, gauge how much you need to improve, and review your mistakes with these four ultimate SAT study tips. You should also use the tips in this article about getting a perfect score on the SAT to keep up your motivation.
#2: Target Your Weak Areas
To keep your skills honed, you’ll need to regularly practice skills you struggle with. Before you start your summer studying, take a full-length practice test, note what you had problems with, and plan your studying accordingly.
For instance, let's say you took a practice test and did fine on Writing & Language and Math but struggled with the Reading section. When plan your studying, you'll need to make sure that you’re regularly drilling yourself on SAT Reading passages and reading SAT-level materials.
#3: Consider a Summer SAT Prep Course
It’s no fun to have to give up part or all of your summer for SAT prep, but if you can get a great score in August then you’ll be done with the test forever.
#4: Don’t Burn Yourself Out
If you get to the end of the school year and you're brain-dead because of how hard you’ve been working, give yourself a break.
Immediately diving into SAT prep when you no longer care about anything schoolwork related is a recipe for disaster. Instead, give yourself a set amount of time to relax and reboot. It’s better to spend a week or two at the beginning of the summer building up your motivation than to force yourself straight into SAT prep and see no score improvement.
Avoiding burning yourself out also means not creating a too ambitious summer SAT prep schedule. Don’t expect that you can study for ten hours a day for months on end and continue to have high-quality studying time
Know your own studying strengths and weaknesses and create a study plan that plays to your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. For example, if you know you can only concentrate for about 45 minutes at a time, build in breaks to your study sessions so that you can concentrate absolutely for those 45 minutes, confident that you’ll have time to take a break once that sprint is over.
Looking for more advice on how to plan your summer SAT studying? Learn more with our article on making a study plan for the summer before senior year.
Thinking about getting a tutor to help you with your SAT score goals? Find out if it makes more sense for you to hire a tutor or to study for the SAT on your own.
How early should you begin studying for the SAT? Read our analysis of when to start studying for the SAT and figure out what works best for you.
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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.