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Test Prep Students-2: “We don’t know what we don’t know” About Selecting Test Dates

I struck up a conversation with a home-schooling mom the other day. Parent of a middle-school student, she told me I should talk to middle school parents about this topic because, as she put it, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

In my blog post “Test Prep Students 1: Before Our First Session, Please,” I mentioned planning ahead to give yourself more time to prepare. Since then, I’ve come to believe that you can’t have too much time to prepare, regardless of what you are testing for

* High school graduation (Minnesota GRAD)

* College National Merit Scholarships (PSAT/NMSQ)

* Advance college credit (AP, CLEP)

* College admission (ACT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS)

* Professional licensure (such as the Minnesota Teacher Licensing Exam—MTLE)

* Graduate school admission (GRE, GMAT, and again TOEFL or IELTS).

Students as young as 12 or 13 can successfully answer many of the ACT Questions of the Day (QOTD) and SAT QOTD Students and their supporters may receive the SAT QOTD by email or by downloading an iTunes cell phone app.) Making these QOTDs a daily part of your online activities is a great, low-impact way (for even the busiest students) to prepare for those specific tests and many others. If you are reading this, it is time to start doing this. To add a competitive edge to the activity, dare your parents, siblings, or friends to compete against you for a prize.

The next element to consider when selecting a test date for the budget conscious—or the schedule conscious—student or parent, I stand by my advice that less-frequent lessons and independent test prep work spread out over a longer period of time are more effective than fewer weeks of more frequent test prep work. For example, see me weekly for one two-hour session for three months (12 weeks) rather than two 2-hour sessions for 6 weeks. Students need time to absorb what they are learning on a proverbial back burner while their conscious minds are doing other things—or sleeping. (The science is in that teens need almost as much sleep as infants do. Do any of them?)

Students cannot cram for these tests—and it breaks my heart when I first hear from a test prep parent less than a month before their student’s test date. The same goes for you college students pursuing a professional license or admission to graduate school. I have a nice heart. Don’t break it.

So, what are my test date options, you ask? As of today:

ACT (United States, US Territories, and Canada)
Remainder of the 2013–2014 school year

February 8
April 12
June 14
2014–2015 school year

September 13
October 25
December 13
February 7
April 18
June 13

2015–2016 school year

September 12
October 24
December 12
February 6
April 9
June 11

SAT (United States, Saturdays during the remainder of the 2013–2014 school year)

March 8
May 3
June 7

SAT Subject Test Dates

For subject test dates go here:

PSAT/NMSQ (United States, 2014–2015 school year)

October 1 (Wednesday)
November 5 (Wednesday)

The PSAT/NMSQ is offered on just two days each autumn. Individual schools offering the test choose just one of these two test dates. No test centers offer the test. [The College Board advises home-schooling parents to reach out in June (or as soon as possible thereafter) for permission to test at a nearby high school in the autumn. On test day, the Minnesota home school code for this test—to put down as the school code on the answer sheet—is 992499. The Wisconsin home school code is 995099.]

TOEFL (iBT, Madison, Wisconsin, Spring 2014)

Fri., Feb 28, 2014

Fri., Mar 14, 2014

Sat., Mar 22, 2014

Sat., Mar 29, 2014

Sat., Apr 05, 2014

Sat., Apr 12, 2014

Fri., Apr 25, 2014

Register to take the TOEFL here:

GMAT (Administered on demand all year long)

The counsel at the Official GMAT® Web Site is to identify your intended school(s)’s application deadline(s) prior to scheduling an appointment to take the test. Students find out what dates and times the test is offered at their chosen test center when they initiate the registration process. The Madison GMAT test site is Pearson Professional Centers; 8517 Excelsior Drive, Suite 202; Prairie Trail Office Suites II; Madison, Wisconsin 53717. (Pearson also administers the GMAT in Brookfield, Milwaukee, and Kenosha, WI, and in Schaumberg, IL.)

GRE (Administered all year long)*

Test centers in Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area include: Edina (0064 and 0065) and Woodbury (9056). Out-state test centers are Duluth (0087), Rochester (5404) and St. Cloud (7517).

* Students find out what dates and times the test is offered at their chosen test center when they initiate the registration process.

MTLE (Testing windows all year long)

The MTLE test centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area are located in Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, and Eagen. (Out-state centers are located in Grand Rapids, Hermantown, Mankato, Marshall, Morris, Rochester, and St. Cloud.) Students may make appointments to take the test at any MTLE Test Center during the following Monday-Saturday testing windows (holidays excluded):

Academic IELTS (Madison, WI), Remaining 2013-2014 test dates

University of Wisconsin–Madison hosts this British English ESL test. 5114 Helen C. White Hall; 600 North Park Street; Madison, WI 53706. NOTES: (1) Some US universities do not accept IELTS scores in lieu of TOEFL results. Make sure your target schools do! (2) Only the Academic IELTS is offered in Madison. Other locations offer a General IELTS as well, but this version is rarely accepted for college admission.

February 15
February 22
March 8
March 15
April 5
April 26
May 17
May 24
June 7


Please, write me if you find any inaccuracies or to suggest other tests to include on my next update.