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How Many Times Can You Take The SAT?

Written by Shefali Sundram

Updated on: 19 Apr 2024

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Students can take the SAT as many times as they want.

If your SAT score falls short of your target or is significantly below it, you can choose to retake the exam.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, recommends students take the exam at least twice, starting in the spring of their junior year and later, in the fall of their senior year (if they are taking the exam for the 2nd time). This way students get enough time to work on their weak areas and score better.

As per Elizabeth Chasel, an educational consultant, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, however, it is not recommended. If you are sending to those schools that want to see all your results, there’s going to be a little bit of a flag if you are taking the SAT five times. I mean, don’t you have better things to do?

By this, she tries to emphasize that taking the SAT too many times while not seeing a big difference in the result can also leave a negative impression on college officials looking at your scores.

Elizabeth says that taking the SAT exam multiple times can be anxiety-producing, so it is adequate to take it two to three times.

She also mentions that when you take the SAT for the first time and get scores that make you think you can do better in specific sections or in the entire test, and you need extra knowledge, then it’s an ideal scenario to take the SAT exam again.

While students like to believe that retaking the SAT exam has multiple advantages, they tend to forget about some of its disadvantages.

It is not always necessary to take the SAT more than once. If you get the score you had anticipated in mind for the first time, then there is absolutely no need to retake it.

According to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, half of the SAT takers retake the SAT exam and end up with better scores and colleges.

As per the working paper, mostly students from low-income families and students from underrepresented minorities tend not to retake the SAT exam.

Their data shows that

  • Low-income students are 21 percentage points less likely to retake the SAT exam than high-income students.
  • Students from underrepresented minorities are 9 percentage points less likely to retake the exam than White students.
  • Asian students are 12 percentage points more likely to retake the exam than White students.

Joshua Goodman, an education economist at the Harvard Kennedy School and one of the authors of the working paper says “If you’re applying to colleges that are only going to consider our maximum SAT score, then it cannot hurt, and will probably help you, to retake the SAT and therefore give yourself a shot at a higher score.”

Advantages of Taking the SAT Exam More Than Once

  • Improvement in score

With good practice, there are high chances to improve your SAT performance while giving it for the second time.

Keep in mind that taking the SAT exam again does not guarantee you a higher score than earlier. Taking the SAT exam again can be an effective method to achieve the score you want for your dream college.

Most colleges consider the highest SAT score out of all the submitted scores to make a decision regarding college admission. So, if you do not get a score you feel is adequate for the college of your choice, you can reappear for the test.

  • Understanding the weak areas

Once you take the SAT exam for the first time, you will be able to find out your areas of strength as well as zero in on the topics that require more attention. 

So, when you take the exam next time, you will be able to avoid the mistakes you made during the first attempt.

  • Overview of the exam format

While chances are that you have taken multiple practice tests to familiarize yourself with the format and structure of the SAT exam, nothing can beat the experience of taking the exam in real test conditions.

By knowing the format of the exam, you will be able to prepare in a much better way for future attempts.

  • Demonstrate your growth

Taking the SAT exam again and getting higher scores than the first time allows you to showcase your improved efforts.

Getting a better score the second time shows that you have worked on your weak areas. This leaves a better impact on your personality in the minds of the college admission officials and will also increase your chances of getting into your desired college.

  • Increase the chances of qualifying for financial aid

Some colleges like the University of Mississippi and Texas Tech University have their criteria for providing financial aid to the students which is related to SAT scores. So, retaking the SAT exam and getting better scores will increase your chances of getting scholarships or other financial aid.

  • Colleges following “super scoring” process

Superscoring is a process where colleges are considering your highest section scores even if they are from different tests.

For example, you have taken the SAT for the second time and scored 60 points more in the Reading and Writing section and 10 points less in the Math section than the first time.

In this case, colleges who follow superscoring, will consider your scores in the Reading and Writing section from the second time and scores in the Math section from the first time you took the SAT and make up your final SAT score.

Colleges like Columbia University, Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Chicago are following the superscoring process.

Disadvantages of Taking the SAT Exam More Than Once

  • You have to pay every time

Every time you take the SAT exam, you need to pay the $60 registration fee which can become financially difficult if you take the exam multiple times.

If you have the SAT fee waiver, then it can cover your cost of registration for SAT exams.

  • You need to invest more time in preparation

If you are planning to take the SAT exam again, then the preparation for the same requires your sincere time and effort. This can get a little difficult with managing other daily activities.

What to Consider Before Taking the SAT Again?

There are a few things to consider while taking the SAT exam again. It is ideal to do the following things:

  • Take a thorough look at your SAT score report

Evaluate your SAT score report of the exam that you took for the first time. Take note of your SAT score and compare it with what you had in mind.

Check for your scores in different sections (Reading & Writing and Math) and compare them to assess performance in each section. This offers clarity on sections that need more practice.

  • Make a better study plan

Make a study plan to achieve your score target while taking the SAT exam again. You can consider SAT study resources, SAT tutor, and practice the sample papers.

If you already have a study plan from the first time of take the SAT, then you can improvise the existing plan for better results.

  • Select the right test date to take the SAT exam again

After the first SAT, you need to take a minimum of 1-2 months to practice and retake it. This way, you get a decent amount of time to practice.

You should also consider the college admission deadlines of the colleges you want to apply to. You need to retake the SAT exam early enough to finish it and get your score before college admission deadlines, ideally within a month and a half. This allows you the time to apply for the colleges as well. 

Keep in mind that you can only take the SAT exam seven times in a year (March, May, June, August, October, November, and December).


Written by

Shefali Sundram

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