When Do You Take the SAT? | Choosing the Right Grade and Test Date Matter

Deciding when do you take the SAT is one of the first things that you have to do when you start considering your college options. As this exam plays a significant role in universities’ and colleges’ admission process, you definitely can’t just take the test without proper planning. This decision will have a huge impact on how to do well on the SAT since it can help determine the length of your prep time.

studying for the sat

The thing with deciding when to take the SAT is, there are lots of factors that you should consider when choosing a test date. The best day isn’t the same for everyone, so you will benefit from learning which one is yours.

To help you find the best day for you to take the SAT, we’ve created a quick but informational guide below.

Check it out and you might just be able to get the information you need to choose a good test date for you. When it comes to preparation, you should take a look at our top picks in this guide that reviews the top SAT study books to get a good score. If you need more accountable check out this post on SAT prep courses reviewed, which details which online classes you'll want to take to maximiez your score.

What You Need to Know About SAT Schedules

The SAT may be a standardized exam but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide certain accommodations for students. In fact, the College Board, the very folks behind the exam, recognizes that there’s one best day for everyone to take the exam. This is why they offer several SAT test days in a year.

This actually makes sense because a single test date would also be a nightmare for them. If you have any idea how many students take the SAT each year, you’ll understand why there are several testing dates within a year. As more than 1 million students take the exam yearly (with 2017 having the highest number of takers at 1.8 million), it would really be more efficient to break them all up and allow them to take the test at different times of the year.

What Grade Should You Take the SAT?

Before you even worry about the exam date, however, you might first want to know the answer to the very important question: what grade do you take the SAT? This will help you determine when you should even start planning your preparations for your college admissions applications.

Ideally, the SAT is taken by senior students who are already gearing up for college. However, juniors are also allowed to take the exam. Some students also start taking the SAT as early as their sophomore year. Most of them do this to get a good feel of the test so they can be sure to take the appropriate measures to improve their later results.

Taking the SAT After High School

Can you take the sat after high school? Yes, the College Board do not limit the test-taking to high school students. If you’ve already graduated from secondary school, you can still take the exam.

taking the sat after high school

To be very honest, you don’t have to take the SAT if you don’t want to. This is particularly true if you’re not planning on going to college right away or at all.

This can also work if the school you wish to attend doesn’t require the SAT. Most universities abroad might have their own requirements of versions of the SAT so it’s just best to look into those to be sure.

However, if you ever change your mind, you can still take the SAT down the road. This keeps opportunities available to you should you wish to pursue higher-level education later on.

Can you take the SAT in college? Yes, you definitely can. If you’re planning on transferring to a different university, your SAT scores might be required by some schools. This is usually the case if you haven’t fulfilled a certain number of credits yet. Your SAT scores might also be required if you want to move to a higher-tiered institution.

It’s best to first check the requirements of the school you wish to transfer before signing up for an SAT schedule, however. There are some cases wherein the requirement is waived, so you should look into that. With the demands of the SATs, it would be nice if you can skip the whole thing entirely.

What are the Available SAT Test Dates?

The College Board has SAT schedules nearly all year round. The test is nationally administered in the months of May, June, August, October, November, December, and March. Additional dates in the spring and fall months are also available for participating schools. This gives you a lot of options when it comes to when to take this standardized college admission test.

Note, however, that not all test dates are available nation-wide. Some states do not have test schedules in June

How to Choose the Best Test Date for You

Each test schedule makes a good case for itself so it’s very important that you consider the factors that come with their timing closely. For example, summer test dates will allow you to deal with the exam before the school year starts. Later dates will give you more time to prepare for the test, on the other hand.

By opting to take the SAT before the school year, incoming seniors can cut down the number of stressors that they have to deal with on their final year of high school. It will also take out one of the most time-consuming portions of their college applications. With the SAT out of the way, you can already focus on your college application requirements, coursework, and other extracurriculars that will also help boost your odds in getting into a good university.

choose the best test date for you

Incoming juniors, on the other hand, will find this schedule beneficial as it will help them start their test season on the least stressful time of the year.

This will let them focus on their SAT preps and even do some advanced studying that should give them a good edge for the upcoming school year.

Summer SAT test dates also promise early SAT results dates.

This means that you can get your scores way before you might need them for your admission applications. This will allow you to apply for early decision or early action admissions which might just help boost your odds of getting into your top choices. Getting your scores early will also give you enough time to re-take the test in case you want higher scores.

June SAT dates are the earliest you can take the said exam during the summer months. Incoming juniors are recommended to take the SAT for the first time on this schedule as it can give them a good head start in their college applications. However, test preps for this exam date would coincide with preparations for your finals and AP exams so it can also be the worst time for some.

The August SAT schedules, however, are also quite popular because they allow students to prepare over the summer without lots of other distractions. It’s also a good time to take the SAT for the second time if you were able to take it for the first time in the previous months. You’ll already have the results by this time and you’ll already know where you should do better to pull up your scores.

The College Board, however, recommends taking the exam for the first time in the spring of your junior year. By this time, you’ll most likely already covered most of the topics that are included in the exam in class. This can save you from the hassle of advance studying. This schedule will also let you make use of the breaks before this time to prepare for the exam like we explained in our guide.

Other experts, on the other hand, suggest that you take the SAT in the fall of your junior year. This will allow you to prepare for the SAT ahead of the other things that you should take care of during this time.

time to prepare the sat

You might find yourself asking, do I have to take the SAT earlier than these suggestions? The answer would really depend on how you intend to take on this challenge. Some prefer doing so but it’s not recommended by a lot of experts. The exam might prove to be too complex for younger students so it might not be beneficial for you. It can also prolong the preparation process which can be too exhausting for a student.

The latest that you should take the SAT would be the fall of your senior year if the test results can come out in time for your college admissions deadline. Those who want to pull up their scores do their re-takes around this time and many benefitted from the additional prep time it provided. Be very particular about the release date of the test scores, however, as these test dates might be too late for some universities’ admissions schedules.

How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?: Basic Rules on Re-Taking

Now, you might be wondering, can you retake the SAT? The multiple test schedules and the information we have provided above should certainly suggest that you can re-take the test. You can re-take this test as many times as you want, so you can always try for a better score. Universities either use the highest score you got or use specific techniques to better process the data from your test results.

On the other hand, it also matters how many times you take the SAT. While the College Board will be more than happy to let you re-take the test as many times as you want, the process will also be taxing for you. It can be mentally, emotionally, and financially exhausting so it might not be the best thing to do.

Do you have to take the SAT multiple times? How many times should I take the SAT to reach my goals? It really depends on your performance, goals, and preparation: get to know the SAT breakdown. If you took the exam early on and you didn’t do too well, a do-over would be great. Just make sure to do ample preparation this round so you can be sure to improve your scores. If you’re still not satisfied with the results you got and you still have time for another re-take, you can still go for it.

You are not required to take the SAT several times, however. Taking it one to three times is the most common recommendation but you don’t really have to subject yourself repeatedly to this test. And if you intend to go over those numbers, it’s best that you do not exceed four times.

Scheduling Your SAT Test Day

Now that you have some idea about the SAT schedules, you’re ready to start thinking of when you should take the said exam. To help you arrive at a good conclusion, we’ve rounded up some questions that should help you decide how to go about this important part of the SAT. Check them out below:

scheduling your sat test day

When can you start preparing for the SAT?

Choosing your SAT test date should always involve the important detail of when you can start preparing for the actual exam. You can’t just sign up for the next exam schedule without checking if you’ll have enough time to get ready. That might not promise good things for your test results.

You should also consider how much time you’re willing to spend on SAT preps when considering the answer to this question. By combining your answers to the two, you can pick out a good target test date.

Do you prefer to focus on your SAT test prep or will you be able to juggle it with other school work and activities?

An important addition to the considerations above is whether you’ll be willing to do your SAT preps while juggling other school work. If your target date is within the academic year, you will need to map out a solid time management plan for things to work out nicely.

On the flip side, you can also choose a test date on lean seasons. As mentioned above, the summer and early fall test dates are quite popular because they will let you use your entire summer break for test preps. The said schedule can help ease your workload and make your preparation less stressful.

How many times are you willing to re-take the SAT?

The number of times you’re thinking of taking the SAT should also have some weight in your choice of test day. If you want to take the exam thrice, you should take the test early to give you enough time for re-takes. It’s best to choose a very early schedule for this so you’ll have enough time to receive your test scores and prepare for the do-over.

As mentioned above, it would be great to have your first go at the exam in the fall of your junior year. The next one could be taken in the spring of the same academic year. The last one should then be the early fall of your senior year. These dates will already give you enough time to prepare before and in between the exams.

Do you need to take SAT Subject Tests?

If the program you’re applying for requires you to take an SAT subject test, you should also make sure to factor in their available schedules. Subject tests are not administered as often as the general SAT so you have to closely consider them when choosing a test date. Make sure that you’ll have enough time to prepare for all of the exams you need to take in order to get the best results.

Are you applying for scholarships?

Scholarships and financial aid programs have specific timelines. So if you’re gunning for one, you better stick to their schedule. Make sure that you have your SAT scores ahead of their application deadline so you have a good shot at getting the grant. Indicate their deadlines in your college application calendar and factor it in when choosing an SAT test date.

When is the deadline for your college admission applications?

Most importantly, your test results should also come before your college application deadline so you can actually complete your requirements on time. This means that you should also choose a test date that will give you the results before your deadline.

Do you have any particular dates that you have preferences for?

Some test dates might fall on certain days that have significance to you, so it might be best to avoid them entirely. If you have something else that you want to do on a test day, it would be better to just keep it clear. Such things can only distract you and prevent you from doing your best on the exam.

If there’s any chance that you’ll just worry about how many hours the SAT is or if you’ll be able to make it to your next appointment, you will be better off taking a different test date.

Combine all of the factors we’ve noted above and you can determine when will be the best time for you to take the SAT.


Once you’ve chosen the best test date for you, you can proceed to take the necessary preparations for the test. This would be a lengthy process so it’s important to plan for it as well. Strategize on how to effectively tackle the exam but also don’t forget to learn about the smaller details that can also make or break your test-taking experience. Make sure to also know what to bring to the SAT or how to dress for the test day.

Keep in mind that the right SAT test date can play a huge role in your attempt to get the best results from this standardized college admission test. So be very particular about it and treat it as a crucial part of your SAT preps. If you're considering taking ACT instead, www.studypreplounge.com has a separate article covering the differences between these two popular tests.

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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