BioWare has announced that Early Game Access will begin on Tuesday 13 December, a full 7 days before launch!
Starting 7am EST on 13 December, BioWare will start bringing players who have pre-ordered into SWTOR in their Early Game Access program which runs up until a couple of hours prior to launch (10pm EST on 19 December), which occurs midnight EST 20 December.
Even better, you can start downloading the game now. Go to your SWTOR.com account page, and as long as you’ve entered your pre-order code previously, you can click on the Pre-order link on the right, and from there start downloading the client now.
According to Stephen Reid (via Twitter), “Emails will be sent on the day you get access.” So keep your eye on your inbox, and get ready to play!