When Should You Take the SAT?
Taking the SAT is a vital step in the college application process—even if you plan to apply to colleges that are test-optional--and worthy of careful planning. It’s offered on a Weekend seven times yearly, in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. Your school may also offer the SAT on a School Day—check with your school counselor. Students appreciate this option for comfort, familiarity, and timing.
The key is to stay informed, plan ahead, and select the dates that align best with your academic and personal schedule. Generally, you should take it in the spring of your junior year and consider retaking it in the Fall of your senior year based on your score and growth goals.
Whether you’re taking it in school on a school day, or at a test center on the weekend, be sure to factor in the test date, seat availability, personal commitments, prep time, and college application deadlines. If you’re taking it on the weekend, register early, especially if you have a preferred test center, to avoid the rush and potential extra fees.
Here’s a quick bulleted guide (robust details below):
SAT Weekend: Offered seven times a year - March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.
SAT School Day: Offered in some states, districts, and schools in March, April and October.
SAT Prep and Practice: Use our free tools and set aside 2-3 months for studying.
SAT Registration: Register online for weekend registration or speak with your counselor for SAT School Day.
The SAT is offered globally seven times each year, in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December, usually on a Saturday. See the current SAT test date schedule for the exact dates.
We recommend taking the SAT for the first time in the spring of your junior year and again in the Fall before college application deadlines. Most students who retake the SAT raise their scores, and some take it more times. There is no obligation to share your score with schools, so you have nothing to lose by taking it.
How should you choose? Select your first test date for March, May, or June. Consider test center location, seat availability, practice and study time, and college application deadlines.
The SAT is administered at thousands of schools and testing centers across the globe. However, only some locations are open for every test date or offer the same number of seats each time. A lot is happening in your junior and senior years of high school. Through the process of elimination, you may need to choose dates based on prior commitments like a family obligation, vacation, or sporting event.
Students often feel most comfortable taking the SAT in a familiar location near them. Check whether your school is administering the test or operating as a test center, and if so, which SAT dates it offers. If they aren’t, choose the location closest to you that offers the SAT on your desired date. Our online test center search tool can help you find them.
Once you receive the scores from that test, you’ll have a clear understanding of your next steps. Do you want or need a higher score to qualify for a particular school or scholarship? If so, register to retake the SAT in August, October, November or December.
By the way, don't worry about whether taking the SAT will interfere with your choice to also take the ACT®. The College Board coordinates with the ACT® every year to ensure the two tests are never offered on the same day (so that’s one conflict you won’t have to worry about).
SAT School Day
Many states, districts, and schools participate in SAT School Day, which lets you test at your school during school hours on dates in October, March, and April. Ask your counselor if your school plans to administer the SAT on a school day.
If you've already taken the SAT on a Saturday, you can retake it on an SAT School Day. If you’ll be taking it on an SAT School Day, you can still take it a second time during one of the national Saturday test dates. The choice is yours!
As you can see, taking the SAT is an important decision that takes some planning. Now that you have the information you need, choose the upcoming SAT test date that’s best for you today to secure your seat.
SAT Prep and Practice
We recommend setting aside some time to practice to do your best on the SAT. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel each time you test.
If you took the PSAT/NMSQT, use your scores to set a target and guide your SAT study plan and areas of focus. Most students study for 2-3 months before their SAT test date. You have a choice of resources to help you feel prepared, including full-length interactive or downloadable practice tests.
As mentioned, many students take the SAT for the first time in March, May, or June of their junior year. At that point, you’ve got nearly three years of high school coursework under your belt, so you’re well prepared, and you still have plenty of chances to retake the SAT (and raise your score) a second time if you'd like. You can register online.
If you then decide to retake the SAT, you benefit from using your score report to focus on specific areas you need to work on most, and you’ve got the added advantage of knowing what to expect. August, October, November, and December are popular for retaking the SAT to receive scores before college application deadlines.
Ready? Pick the next date that is right for you and register today.
If you have more questions, check out the frequently asked questions on our help page.