You can absolutely retake the SAT—many students improve their scores when they take it a second or third time. But not everyone needs to retake the SAT, and only you can decide if you should. When deciding, ask yourself these questions: Did I reach my goal? Am I satisfied with my score? Does my score qualify me for the college I want to attend? Do I have time to take the SAT again before my college applications are due?
Now let’s go into detail about retaking the SAT—the benefits, number of retakes, dates, and how to prepare.
Benefits of Retaking the SAT
Increase Your Chance of Score Improvement
Research shows that 2 out of 3 students in the class of 2018, a total of 63%, increased their SAT score by taking the test more than once.
Know What to Expect
You know from personal experience what the test is like. You know the types and number of questions, timing for each section, break schedule, etc. This will give you an advantage when taking the SAT a second (or third) time. You can be confident because you know what to expect, recognize the areas you need to improve on, and have insight into how to do better the next time you test.
You can turn your efforts into scholarships with our $5 million scholarship program. The College Board Opportunity Scholarship is a 6-step process that gives each student who participates a chance to earn up to $40,000—and step 3 focuses on improving your SAT score. Students who practice for the SAT for 12 hours using Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy® and increase their score by at least 100 points will earn a chance to win a $2,000 scholarship. The College Board will award 25 Improve Your Score scholarships at the end of the month after every SAT test date.
The Opportunity Scholarships are open for high school juniors and seniors—to find out more, visit opportunity.collegeboard.org.
To focus on the Improve scholarship, go to opportunity.collegeboard.org/about/improve.
A higher SAT score could also help you earn additional scholarships through your local school district, organizations, membership programs, or colleges you’re applying to. Research what other scholarships are available to you.
How many times should I take the SAT?
You can take the SAT as many times as you like. But should you? Each person is different. Everyone has a target score for the college of their choice. Research the SAT score requirements of colleges you’re applying to before you begin the admissions process so you can set goals for retaking the SAT.
The College Board typically recommends students take the SAT twice. High school juniors should take it for the first time in the spring, and then retest in the fall of their senior year. If you don’t reach your target score by then, consider taking the SAT a third time in the fall of senior year. That way you’ll have up to three scores to compare and submit to college admissions teams when applying in the winter of senior year.
How should I prepare to retake the SAT?
Know When to Retake
If you choose to retake the SAT, consider a few things. Reflect on how you did on your last SAT, but also how much time you have between now and the next test date. As a senior, it’s also important to consider the timeline of your college applications and scholarships. Not only do schools have deadlines for the general application (often in the spring), many offer priority scholarships for students who apply early (generally in the fall). This means preparing to retake the SAT requires planning your academic goals.
The SAT is offered in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December every year. The deadlines to register without a late fee are approximately a month ahead of any SAT administration and scores are released about two weeks after a Saturday SAT. Depending on which SAT you register for, you might have to sign up for another SAT before you know your score on the last one you took. Give yourself ample time to prepare for your SAT while staying aware of your timeline.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but one of the best strategies for performing better when you retake the SAT is to practice concepts you struggled with the first time around. The best and easiest way to do it? Link your Khan Academy and College Board accounts to create a free, personalized SAT study plan on Official SAT Practice based on your past SAT and PSAT/NMSQT test results and the date of your next test. Research shows that 20 hours of practice on Official SAT Practice is linked to an average score gain of 115 points from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT, nearly twice as many points as students who didn’t use Khan Academy resources.
Don’t forget self-care!
You’ve already taken your first SAT and you’re on the right track to do well on the next one. It’s important to be prepared for your next test, but it’s also important to take care of yourself. Take healthy study breaks, and before the next SAT get a good night’s rest, eat a balanced breakfast, and get to your testing center early. Preparation is key when taking the SAT but feeling rested and ready can also make a difference.
There are many benefits to retaking the SAT: score improvement (because you’ve been studying), increased confidence (because you now know what to expect), and more chances to win scholarships (because your score will likely improve if you’ve been studying!). Although we encourage all students to consider retaking the SAT, only you know if this is the right choice for you.