Can I Take the SAT After High School? | Avoid Major Headaches With University and College Admissions

The debate as to whether SAT scores should play a role in college admissions continues to rage.  Many believe that the time has come to base admissions to college or university on other factors, which in turn would render the SAT taken at high schools completely optional.

For the time being, whether or not you want to take the SAT test is largely inconsequential. SAT scores continue to play a major role in college applications, admissions and eligibility checks - the SAT is therefore something you need to take.

But what happens if you graduate high school without taking this standardized test?  Is there an allowance for taking the SAT after high school, and how does it work?

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A Common Academic Obstacle

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not uncommon for high school students to complete their education without taking the SAT.  Students routinely graduate high school without sitting this standardized test, which at the time may not seem like a particularly big deal.

Unfortunately, failing to take the test can subsequently cause major headaches with university and college admissions.  It can also call into question your employability - at least in the sense of being hired for the job you really want.

Every year, thousands of adults who didn’t take their SAT (or got a low score) look into the options for post-high-school SAT testing. The good news is that irrespective of your age and motivations, the answer is yes - you can take the SAT after graduating high school.

Note: If you plan to apply for your SAT as an adult student, you might want to check out these awesome SAT prep books that will help boost your score. Our SAT prep courses reviews will also help you find the ideal practice courses online and get you ready for the big day.  Browse our website for more.

Why Would You Want to Take the SAT After High School?

Students often ask questions as to what (if anything) makes the SAT such a big deal.  Irrespective of whether or not they are planning on applying to colleges at the time, the relevance and value of the SAT (and high SAT scores) isn’t always clear.

Sooner or later, however, the benefits of having a good SAT score on your student profile become apparent.  When polled, these were the three main motivations cited by adults taking their SATs later in life:

#1: Applying to Colleges or Universities

There are many students who for countless reasons aren’t interested in applying to college or university straight out of high school. Or it could be that other mitigating circumstances prevent them from applying. At the time, therefore, taking the SAT may seem largely irrelevant.

However, many adults subsequently decide to apply to college or university further down the line, when they feel they could get much more out of it.  At which point, SAT testing becomes a necessary prerequisite to fulfil the requirements of colleges and universities. We talked about when to take the test here.

Note: Make sure you know whether your target college requires the SAT essay before applying or submitting your transfer, which is an optional extra in addition to the standard test. It's also worth checking what scores your target schools consider acceptable. It goes without saying that you need to know how to study for the SAT, which we covered in this article.

#2: Transfer College Applications/Admissions Requirements

A prospective student applying to a transfer college from a community college or four-year university will most likely need to include their SAT score in their application.  If you were not particularly happy with your SAT score the first time you sat the test at school, you can always take it once again to boost the strength of your application.

The average college board favors applicants with an SAT score that ranks within the 75th percentile or higher, though requirements vary. This is particularly so where a board receives a multitude of transfer college applications and competition for available space is limited. In such instances, those who took the test and got the highest score (irrespective of age) will usually have the upper hand over rival applicants that year.

#3: Job Applications and Career Development

Landing a decent job in the first place can be made easier with the right achievements and qualifications on your resume.  Standardized testing such as the SAT is taken into account by most employers, when assessing which candidates might be right for the job.

Furthermore, your SAT may even influence how much progress you make in your career further down the line.  When singling out candidates for promotion and career development, it’s the norm for employers to prioritize candidates with the right educational background.  Even if standardized testing doesn't appear to be directly related to the career you’re pursuing, it'll  help with  your employability and future progression in years to come.

Taking the SAT After High School - How Does it Work?

If you’ve decided to go ahead and take the test as an adult, the first thing to do is find and register with an appropriate community college. You’ll usually be able to apply online at the website of the college board or school, though some may ask you to attend in person to register.

You’ll probably encounter a fair few questions on the application that are neither relevant nor applicable, such as information related to your parents. If in doubt, check with the admissions team at the school, or get the help you require to apply online.

When the time comes to take the test, you’ll sit the exam just like all other high school students taking it that year. The test will usually take place at a high school where you’ll sit alongside high school students, though it may be organized at a community college in your area. There are also some universities that organize SAT testing specifically for ‘mature’ students.

One important point to remember - places at community colleges and high schools fill up quickly each year, so it’s essential to plan ahead and submit your application at the right time. Don’t delay, as you may have questions and need help along the way before your application is submitted and accepted. In the meantime, prepare for the test and get the best calculator for SAT for your needs.

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Additional Tips and Help for Adults for Taking the SAT

Taking the SAT as an adult, it’s important to know what to expect so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Things may have changed significantly over the years - the SAT as it exists today may be quite different than the year you graduated high school.

As with all tests and exams, organized and extensive prep holds the key to getting the job done right.  Irrespective of your age, your knowledge of your experience in general, you’ll still need to do the necessary prep to come out with a good score.

You may be extremely knowledgeable in many areas, but can you honestly say you recall even the most basic trigonometry formulas you learned in high school math classes?

Here are three essential guidelines for getting the most out of your SAT as an adult and the test prep you put in beforehand:

Tip #1: Get to know the format of the test

The easiest and most effective way of doing this is to get online and take multiple practice SATs, doing what you can to replicate test conditions at home. This means giving yourself a finite amount of time, limiting your access to additional resources and treating it as if it was a real test.

SAT materials typically offer all the information needed to provide complete and accurate answers, though the Math element will put your knowledge to re-test. This is one major area of test prep therefore to focus on, if you need to get your Math skills in order.

Tip #2: Focus on your areas of weakness

To a degree, you can probably shelve the areas of the SAT you’re already good at and focus instead on what might need brushing up.  Exceptions exist, but many adults walk into their SATs with blind confidence and find the Math section the most difficult of all.

Again, you’re sure to find the whole thing exponentially easier to deal with if you take plenty of practice tests online beforehand. This is the best way of finding your own unique areas of weakness, which you can then focus your time and attention on.

Tip #3: Plan strategically in accordance with your lifestyle

Last up, you may find that one of the trickiest parts of taking the SAT as an adult is fitting the whole thing in with your existing lifestyle and commitments. Pursuits like these require a fair amount of effort and attention, which you could find difficult to divert from other important responsibilities.

This is another reason why mature students should always plan and register as early as possible - never at the last moment. It's much easier to allocate time to the test and study process, if you give yourself plenty of time over a period of say 3 to 6 months at least.

Cramming for a rushed SAT and getting the job done isn’t impossible, but could make the whole thing even more daunting than it already is.

Good luck!

Leonard Haggin
 

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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