How Many Times Can You Take the SAT® Exam Before College?

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The SAT test is a challenging exam, and most students take it for the first time during their junior year of high school. However, this is not the only way to go about taking this college readiness test. Some students even take it during their freshman year in order to get a feel for what the test is about. As you prepare for your college applications, keep these considerations in mind about how many times you can take the SAT.

Why Someone Would Take the SAT Exam More Than Once

There are a variety of reasons one would want to take the SAT test more than once. The first time you take the official SAT test, you may feel a wave of worry for fear of not knowing what to expect. Even after dedicated practice and overall comprehension of the test layout and subject information, it is still typical to feel uncomfortable on test day. Because of that, it’s common to see students retake the test to feel more comfortable a second time around. Some students register for multiple SAT tests in order to try and receive the highest score possible for the best chance at admissions to their dream college. Although test scores are not everything that a college admissions officer will look at, they do play a role in whether you will be accepted.

What the Educational Testing Service Says About Taking the SAT Multiple Times

The Educational Testing Service says you can take the SAT exam an unlimited number of times. The test dates are scattered throughout the year, so the only real limitation on how many times you can take the test is how much time you have before your scores are due to the college you are applying for. Many students will take the SAT exam early during their junior year, so if they are not pleased with the score they get, they still have plenty of time to study and practice before retaking the test later during their junior year of high school. It is even possible to take it again during the summer before their senior year or in the first quarter of senior year of high school. However, if you are applying to a university through its early decision admissions program, you might have to submit your highest score by the beginning of your senior year. This is true for both the general SAT and the SAT subject tests. Keep in mind that the SAT subject tests are not held as frequently as the SAT general tests.

Selecting the Score Choice™ Option

Score Choice is a program in which your SAT general and subject scores are held until you release them to the college or university of your choice. If you took the SAT exam multiple times, you may choose which exam score you want sent. However, some colleges require that all test attempts and scores be sent to them.

Score Choice will send all section scores of only one test, meaning you cannot pick and choose section scores from different test dates to send. However, some schools use superscoring, which does consider the highest score in each section from multiple tests.

What an Admissions Officer Does When Receiving Your SAT Scores

The role of a college admissions office is very difficult and continues to get harder every year. When they receive your admissions application, they have many parts to review, from essays, letters of recommendation, GPA’s, extracurriculars, and finally test scores such as the SAT score.  The admissions counselor will take all of these metrics into consideration, including the number of times and scores of your SAT tests before making a decision to accept your application.

How Many SAT Tests Are Too Many?

The purpose of the SAT is to demonstrate your readiness for college. If you take the test multiple times without changing your SAT prep or test-prep strategy, this could demonstrate that you have not been properly preparing for the test. The whole point of retaking the exam is to improve. If you get poor scores twice, it is wise to change your prep strategy and consider an online SAT prep resource like UWorld.

What to Do When You Have to Share Bad Test Scores

If your dream college does not participate in Score Choice, you will ultimately have to share all of your test scores. Try your best to plan for retaking the exam and make sure you are preparing to do your best using quality preparation tools. In addition, while admissions officers take your SAT score very seriously, they also evaluate other metrics such as your GPA, essays, and other components of your application for consideration of acceptance.

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