Parents Guide to the SAT
The SAT® is more than just a college admissions test. When your teen takes the SAT, they can use their scores to be seen by colleges and scholarship programs. They also get customized career information to help them understand all their options after high school. Most colleges—including those that are test optional—still accept SAT scores.
The test measures the same Reading and Writing and Math skills students learn in the classroom—the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in college and career. See what’s on the SAT.
The SAT is now in a digital format. Going digital means a shorter test—closer to two hours than three—and an easier testing experience for students on Bluebook™, College Board’s new digital testing app. Students will have more time per question, shorter reading passages, and access to a built-in graphing calculator that can be used on the entire math section. Find out what to expect.
- Most students in the U.S. now take the SAT in schools on a school day.
- For students in schools that don’t offer the SAT on a school day, the test is administered on weekends seven times per year at test centers throughout the U.S. and around the world. See SAT test dates.
- Most students take the SAT for the first time in spring of their junior year; some take it again in fall of senior year.
- Most students pay a fee to take the SAT on a weekend, but income-eligible students can take it for free with a fee waiver.
- Students tell the College Board which colleges to send their scores to. Colleges then review their SAT scores as part of their application.
- The SAT connects your child to scholarship opportunities as well as to colleges that are looking for students like them.
- In addition to the SAT, there’s another college entrance exam called the ACT. The ACT isn’t associated with the College Board.
How to Register
Your child must sign up to take the SAT on a weekend by the registration deadline for the test date they choose. When they register, they also choose a testing location. The test center may even be their own high school.
Remember: You can’t register for your child. The registration has to be under your child’s name and connected to your child’s College Board online account. However, many parents help their child through the registration process. There's a registration fee, which can be paid by credit card or via PayPal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many times can a student take the SAT, and when should they take it?
Students can take the SAT as many times as they want. We recommend that they take it in the spring of their junior year and then decide if they want to take it again in the fall of their senior year.
Most students get a higher score the second time, and most colleges consider a student's highest SAT score when making admission decisions.
Another reason to take the SAT a second time is that some colleges use a process called "superscoring." Superscoring is when a college combines a student's highest Math section score with their highest Reading and Writing section score, even if those scores are from different test dates, to come up with the student's total SAT score.
Can colleges see if a student takes the SAT more than once?
The short answer is no—nothing automatically shows colleges how many times a student took the SAT.
Most colleges let students who take the SAT multiple times select which of their test scores, by date, they send to colleges. However, some colleges do require applicants to send all their test scores.
You can find out a college's policy by checking its website or contacting the admission office.
How can I find out what colleges my child sent their SAT scores to?
Here's how to find out where your child has already sent their SAT scores:
Log in to Student Score Reports with the same username and password your child uses for their College Board account. Click View Details for the relevant SAT test date. Click Score Sends from the menu.
Can students outside the U.S. take the SAT?
Yes. Students can register at one of our international test centers. Learn more about taking the SAT outside the U.S.