Have you ever worked really hard towards something important, only to find you neglected some essential piece of paperwork that rendered all your preparation meaningless? This sad fate befalls all too many students who plan to sit for the SAT and ACT without actually registering for the test. My heart breaks every time I see this happen to one of our students. Make sure it doesn’t happen to you by understanding the registration process:
1. Your high school does not handle SAT or ACT registration.
Don’t let the school’s more active role in organizing the PSAT and/or PreACT fool you. High schools do not and cannot manage registration for the SAT and ACT. That said, school counselors usually offer a lot of guidance in that area. Note that you should work with the school for the separate but related purpose of applying for test accommodations.
2. You have to register through the testing organizations.
If you don’t register through your school, where do you register? The testing organizations manage every step of the registration process:
3. You can register for any testing center.
Different schools administer different tests on different test dates, with only a small percentage offering every single SAT and ACT. But even if your school offers the test you want, don’t feel obligated to register for that location. You can test anywhere, even out-of-state (great news for New Yorkers who want to take the February or July ACT!)
4. Every test has multiple deadlines.
The regular registration deadline for the ACT falls about five weeks before the official test dates, while the SAT regular registration date falls closer to a month before testing. However, both exams also permit late registration until two (SAT) or three (ACT) weeks before the test. Even if you miss both deadlines, you still have time to get on the waitlist until about one week before testing.
5. The registration process assumes student participation.
Many parents become so accustomed to managing their children’s paperwork that moments like these–when teens are entrusted with important responsibilities–become jarring and uncomfortable. Fight those feelings and put your high schooler in charge of registration. The lengthy registration process includes lots of questions about college and career interests that are better answered by students than their parents. You’ll probably need to hand over a credit card though!
Registration is far from the toughest part of taking the SAT or ACT, but nobody take the test without it. Make sure registration is locked in as far in advance of your intended test date as possible.