When Should You Take the SAT® Exam?

Student taking SAT exam
Scheduling your SAT® Exam is the very first step in acing the SATs. So when should you take the SAT exam? Read on to find out!
Student taking SAT exam
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Once you have decided to take the SAT® exam, you may be wondering when the best time to take the SAT exam is. You can start your research and registration process by looking over the College Board®’s SAT exam schedule. Making a note of your extracurricular activities calendar to figure when you would have the most time to prep for the exam is also a major factor in answering the question – When should you take the SAT exam?

You can find deadlines and registration requirements for upcoming test dates through the College Board’s website. There are seven SAT tests offered per year and each test score is valid for five years. Many students will register to take the exam during the summer of their junior year. This gives you ample time to take the test a few more times if necessary. 

You will want to be sure that you give yourself plenty of time to study and prepare without the risk of being late in submitting your results for college application submissions. Remember, your test results will take a few weeks to be released. Set yourself up for success by allowing lots of room around important application deadlines. 

As you plan and register for your SAT exam, it is important to consider the many other things on your schedule, how much time you can dedicate to studying, and whether you have enough time to retake the exam before application deadlines. 

So, when should you take the SAT exam? Here are two popular timeline options that most high school students tend to follow that help them decide when to take the test. Let’s take a quick look at them.

Timeline 1

1st Attempt: Fall of 11th grade

2nd Attempt: Spring of 11th grade

3rd  Attempt: Summer of 12th grade (if required)

Timeline 2

1st Attempt: Fall of 11th grade

2nd Attempt: Spring of 11th grade

3rd Attempt: October – November of 12th grade (if required)

Registering to take the exam at the end of your junior year will give you ample time to receive your results. Once you receive the results, you can decide whether or not to retake the exam. You will then be able to register to retake the exam in the fall of your senior year, still having enough time to send your scores with your college applications.

After you receive your results from your initial attempt, you can create a study plan that is tailored to your weak points. 

Shaping your preparation and studies around weaker performance areas is a great way to be efficient with your time. It is also the best way to achieve the highest score improvement possible. By establishing a baseline in your initial attempt at the SAT test, you can determine which areas of the exam have the most room for improvement. 

The College Board recommends setting a schedule that allows time to retake the SAT exam (at least) once before submitting your results to your prospective colleges. The main advantage of taking the test multiple times apart from the chance to improve your score is Superscoring. This essentially means that colleges will consider your top Math and Reading scores from multiple test attempts as you final score. This will work to your advantage when it comes to getting a competitive enough score to gain admissions.

Once you have established a proper timeline for your testing, be sure that you create a study plan that works for your schedule. Between your first and second attempts, it is important to get lots of practice with real test questions. You can use practice tests to track your improvements and focus on your weak points. The way you strategize your time between your first and second attempt will make a massive difference in your scoring potential. 

Through this strategy, your second attempt should find you well prepared and equipped to boost your scores. By registering early, you will allow yourself an excellent chance for improvement so long as there is time for a second attempt. 

Try UWorld’s SAT online learning tools for thousands of practice questions that are realistic to the style and difficulty of the official SAT exam. The online resource will also offer performance tracking tools to pinpoint the areas you can work on and later evaluate how you have improved over time. UWorld’s online learning tools also offer answer explanations to guide you along the way.

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