Can You Retake the SAT — and Should You? | BestColleges (2023)

You can retake the SAT as many times as you want, but should you? Read this list of pros and cons before you decide whether to take the SAT again.


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(Video) Should I Retake the SAT®? Is a retake of the test a good idea or just a waste of time and money?

Updated November 7, 2022

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Can You Retake the SAT — and Should You? | BestColleges (5)

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  • Many experts, including the College Board itself, recommend taking the SAT at least twice.
  • Eligible students can take advantage of SAT fee waivers to take the test twice for free.
  • Retake the SAT if you need a higher score for specific colleges or scholarships.

To get into many U.S. colleges, you need a strong SAT score. But what if the score you earn is lower than you hoped it'd be? In this case, you might wonder whether you can retake the SAT. Fortunately, the answer is yes!

A good SAT score can help you get into the college of your choice. It may even qualify you for scholarships. According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, students who took the SAT a second time raised their scores by an average of 46 points. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Clearly, you can benefit from retaking the SAT. But should you do it?

(Video) Why MOST Students FAIL The SAT| DON'T Make These COMMON MISTAKES!

How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?

You can retake the SAT as many times as you want. The College Board, which administers the SAT, recommends taking the SAT at least twice: once in the spring of your junior year and once in the fall of your senior year.

You're only limited in how many times you can take the SAT by the number of test dates offered throughout the year.

The College Board administers the SAT seven times a year in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. You must register for the test about one month before your chosen test date. Registering early ensures you get the date and testing location that work best for you.

The SAT retake cost is $60 — that's the same fee you'll pay whenever you register for the SAT, regardless of whether it's your first or fourth time taking it — unless you're eligible for an SAT fee waiver. A fee waiver allows you to take the test up to two times for free.

The College Board also holds SAT School Days several times in October, March, and April. On these days, you can take the SAT at your high school (if offered). Fees for an SAT School Day test vary depending on your school district.

What Are the Pros and Cons of an SAT Retake?

If you're debating retaking the SAT, the following list of pros and cons can help you determine whether it's the best decision for you.

Pro: You're Likely to Score Higher a Second Time Around

Most students score higher on SAT retakes, which makes it worthwhile to take the test more than once. According to the College Board, 2 out of 3 students who retake the test raise their scores the second time.

Con: You Have to Pay Each Time You Take the Exam

You must pay a $60 registration fee each time you register for the SAT. These fees can add up if you take the test multiple times.

Fortunately, SAT fee waivers are available for eligible students. This waiver allows you to take two free SAT tests.

Pro: Superscoring Means Colleges Will Pick Your Highest Scores

If you take the SAT more than once, you'll likely benefit from an all-around higher score. This is because you can combine your best section scores across every test you take into what's called an "SAT superscore."

So if you scored lower on Math and higher in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing on your first SAT, but the reverse on your second SAT, colleges will look at the highest score from each section.

The National Bureau of Economic Research study mentioned above found that those who retook the SAT just once saw superscore gains of 88 points.

Con: You'll Need to Keep Prepping

Each time you retake the SAT, you'll need to study for the exam. This can be difficult if you are also trying to balance other responsibilities, such as college applications, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job.

If you can't make enough time to prep, you might consider a different test date or not retaking the SAT at all.

(Video) Adults Take The SAT (Again)

When Is the Best Time to Retake the SAT?

The College Board recommends taking your first SAT in the spring of your junior year of high school. You should then plan to retake the test in the fall of your senior year (if desired).

If you can only take the SAT once or only want to take it once, it's best to plan for the spring of your junior year. This should give you enough time to get your SAT scores before college applications are due.

Try to wait at least 2-3 months between test dates to give yourself ample time to study, hone your weaknesses, and prepare for an SAT retake. There are also summer test dates available if your schedule gets too busy in the spring and fall.

Should You Retake the SAT?

In general, you should retake the SAT if you didn't hit your target score and have the time and money to take it again. This is important if your original SAT score wasn't high enough for admission to the college of your choice or for scholarship consideration.

However, if you are satisfied with your first SAT score, you likely won't need to retake the exam.

Remember that if the registration fee poses a barrier to you, SAT fee waivers are available for eligible students. With a waiver, you can take the SAT for free up to two times.

Frequently Asked Questions About SAT Retakes

How much does an SAT retake cost?

You must pay $60 each time you register for the SAT, regardless of how many times you take or have taken the test. Eligible students can receive SAT fee waivers. These let you take the SAT twice for free. After this, you'll need to pay $60 each time you take the SAT.

Can colleges see how many times you take the SAT?

No, there is nothing that will show a college exactly how many times you took the SAT. However, some colleges may require you to send all your test scores from each test date.

Each school has its own policy on what SAT scores are required. Check your college's website to learn more about whether it can view your complete testing history.

How does SAT superscoring work?

Superscoring combines your best SAT section scores across all the times you've taken the test. In short, a superscore shows your best SAT performance.

For example, if you did well on Math but not so well on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), you might want to focus on raising your EBRW score the second time you take the SAT. This higher EBRW score would then be combined with your first high Math score to create a superscore that's more impressive than the total scores from solely your first or second SAT.

Because of superscoring, it's a good idea to take the SAT at least twice if you can. Doing this allows you to raise your overall SAT score.

Note that not all colleges superscore the SAT. As such, be sure to confirm each school's testing policy on its admissions website.


Is there a downside to retaking the SAT? ›

Con: You'll Need to Keep Prepping

Each time you retake the SAT, you'll need to study for the exam. This can be difficult if you are also trying to balance other responsibilities, such as college applications, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job.

What happens if I retake the SAT and get a lower score? ›

Additionally, if you retake the tests, you can choose which scores you send. And even if you sent all of your scores, many colleges will only consider your highest. So even if you were to get a lower score the second time, it would not matter.

Can you get a 1600 on the SAT if you get a question wrong? ›

As you can see with the above SAT scoring chart, it's possible to get some questions wrong and still earn the max SAT score. Generally speaking, you can miss 1-2 questions on each section and still get a perfect 1600.

At what score should I stop retaking the SAT? ›

Never Retake a 1530+

A student's percentile represents the percentage of students whose score is equal to or lower than his or her score. So if you scored a 1520, 99% of the students scored the same or lower. Therefore, the top 1% scored at least a 1530.

Should I retake the SAT if I got a 1420? ›

A 1420 SAT score will make you eligible for some of the top schools in the country. However, if you're dead-set on applying to some of the most selective schools in the country – those that submit less than 5% of applicants – you might want to consider retaking the SAT.

Should I retake a 1290 SAT score? ›

There's no penalty for retaking the SAT and your highest score is what admissions officers are going to consider when reviewing your application. In reality, there's nothing to worry about.

Can colleges see how many times you take the SAT? ›

Can colleges see if a student takes the SAT more than once? The short answer is no—nothing automatically shows colleges how often 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.

Do colleges like to see SAT improvement? ›

The short answer is no.

Retaking the SAT or ACT does not look bad to colleges; it may actually demonstrate your perseverance and improve your score.

What to do after a bad SAT score? ›

Retaking the SAT is the best course of action to take if:
  • Your SAT score is below the 50th percentile of accepted students for the school you want to attend.
  • You have 3-6 months to study and review for the test.
  • You are able to take an SAT prep course or work with a tutor that will help you achieve better results.
Apr 19, 2022

How many questions can you miss on the SAT to get a 1500? ›

So, start answering the questions which you find easy. To get 1500 SAT, you need to get at least 48 right out of 52 in the Reading section. 41 right out of 44 in the Language section and 55 right out of 58 in the Maths section.

Is a 850 on the SAT bad? ›

Earning an 850 means you did better than 15% of all other test takers. With an 850, you'll be eligible to apply to a small number of colleges, but most schools will require a higher score in order to consider your application.

How many questions can you miss on the SAT reading to get a 700? ›

For Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, you can skip/answer incorrectly on average 9 questions on the writing portion and 12 questions on the reading portion.

How rare is a 1500 SAT? ›

A 1500 puts you in nearly the 95th percentile of all 1.7 million test takers.

How much can you realistically raise your SAT score? ›

Keeping in mind that the official statistics by ETS, the test publishers, "show" that the average combined improvement is 60 to 70 points, a 150-point improvement is quite respectable, 200 to 300 points is excellent, and 400 points is phenomenal.

Is 1500 good enough for Harvard? ›

There's no absolute SAT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 1460 to have a chance at being considered.

Can I get into Harvard with a 1400 SAT? ›

While a 1400 makes you eligible to apply to places such as Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania, it won't make you a competitive candidate.

Is 3 SAT attempts bad? ›

1 answer. Taking the SAT 3 or more times is acceptable if the admissions offices see some noticeable improvement or progression, so if you scored 1350, 1450, and 1520 with 3 SATs then undoubtedly, your upward score reflects your tenacity and hard work.

What is considered failing on the SAT? ›

There is just no passing or failing score on the SAT. However, colleges and universities often have specific SAT score requirements for applicants without unique talents. For example, certain colleges may require that applicants have a total score of at least 1200 to be considered for admission.

Is 950 on SAT bad? ›

The scoring scale runs from 400 to 1600, with the average test taker receiving a composite result between 1050 and 1100. A 950 falls in the 31st percentile, short of what most colleges and universities would like to see on applications for admission.

Is an 1800 on SAT good? ›

For example, a score of 1800 represents the 81st percentile, meaning a student with a score of 1800 scored better than 81 percent of the people who took the SAT that year. The percentile is critical since it is a true indicator of your positioning relative to other test takers, and thus college applicants.

Should I take the SAT again if I got a 1300? ›

Should I Retake The SAT With a 1300 Score? The only reason to consider retaking the SAT after earning a 1300 score is if you have your sights set on a very selective or elite school, such as those in the Ivy League.

Which month is best for SAT? ›

Most high school student are advised to take the SAT in spring of their junior year and the March SAT test date is a big favorite of many college counselors.

How many times does the average person take the SAT? ›

Most students take the exam twice, once at the end of their junior year and again at the beginning of their senior year. About 1.5 million students in the Class of 2021 took the SATs at least once, according to a report from the College Board [1].

How many times can you take the SAT before it looks bad? ›

Here's the thing: students can take the SAT as many times as they want. Unlike the ACT, College Board places no restrictions on how often students can take the SAT. Only the most recent 6 scores will stay on file at a time, but if you want to take it 38 times, College Board is happy to let you do so.

Do colleges care more about GPA or SAT? ›

There are several reasons that the SAT is a more valuable admissions tool than your GPA. Most obviously, it's because the SAT is a standardized test. While your GPA compares you to the rest of your school, the SAT compares you to the rest of the country.

What is the average improvement on the SAT second time? ›

The College Board reports that 55 percent of high school juniors improved their scores when taking the test again as seniors. The average score improvement for all students retaking the SAT was 40 points. About four percent of retakes resulted in critical reading or mathematics score increases of 100 points or more.

Do colleges care more about SAT than GPA? ›

The answer isn't simply that one holds more weight than the other when counselors are determining admission status. They both work together. The GPA demonstrates what you have accomplished throughout your high school years – the highs and the lows. It covers homework, tests and class participation.

What is the lowest SAT score colleges will accept? ›

Less selective public institutions, as well as many small liberal arts colleges, regularly accept applicants in the 950-1050 range. Public universities in your state might also accept residents with scores on the lower end of the scale depending on their policies and your other qualifications.

Is it normal to do bad on the first SAT? ›

Nobody aces the SAT on his or her first try (okay maybe a very, very few exceptions here but you get the point). 2. Since the SAT tests a mix of basic and advanced concepts, some students struggle because they encounter material they may have not yet covered in the classroom.

Can a bad SAT score hurt you? ›

Your SAT composite score should be 1500 or higher (about 750 or higher per section) if you want to be competitive at highly selective schools. Anything below that will significantly lower your chances. Anything below 1400 (about 700 per section) is decidedly low and makes your admission more unlikely.

Do you have to get every question right to get a 36? ›

Based on the ACT practice tests, most sections require you to miss 0 questions to receive a score of 36. However, in the Math section, you might be able to miss 1 question and still receive a 36. Receiving a score of 35 most often entails missing 1–3 questions in each section.

Is the SAT curved? ›

Is the SAT Curved? Contrary to what you may believe, there is no SAT curve. This means your SAT score will never be affected by how other test takers perform on the test.

How to study for SAT in 1 week? ›

What to Study the Week Before the SAT
  1. Monday: Complete a Writing and Language practice section. On Monday, complete a Writing and Language practice section. ...
  2. SAT Pacing Strategies. ...
  3. Tuesday & Wednesday: Practice the Math Sections. ...
  4. Thursday: Study Reading Comprehension. ...
  5. Friday: Review your study sheet. ...
  6. Saturday: Test Day.
Nov 30, 2021

Is 1150 a good SAT score? ›

The average national SAT score is between 1050 and 1100 every year (on purpose), putting an 1150 at an above-average 67th percentile — that's a score to be proud of! It means that you scored higher than 67% of all other test takers.

Is 490 a bad SAT score? ›

Poor SAT Score: 900 or lower (bottom 25% of test-takers) Average SAT Score: 1050 (even with 50% of test-takers) Good SAT Score: 1200 (top 75% of test-takers) Excellent SAT Score: 1350+ (90%+ higher than all test-takers.)

Can I get into college with a 870 SAT score? ›

870 SAT Score Standings

Out of the 2.13 million test-takers, 1741189 scored the same or higher than you. You can apply to 33 colleges and have a good shot at getting admitted. You have a very low chance of getting into 1465 schools with this score.

What is the lowest reading SAT score? ›

What Is the Lowest SAT Score? On the Redesigned SAT, the lowest possible score is a 400: 200 on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 200 on Math.

What if you get 10 wrong on SAT math? ›

Typically, if you get 0-1 wrong answers on the Math section you score a perfect 800. If you miss 1-3 questions, you lose 10 points and score a 790. If you miss 10 questions, you can expect a Math section score in the 680-710 range. Missing 20 on this section would result in a score of around 600.

Is a 7 good on SAT essay? ›

Because so many people score towards the middle on SAT Essay Reading and Writing scores, it's safe to say that if you score a 3 or below, your essay score is definitely lower than average; if you score a 4-6, your score is pretty average; and if you score a 7 or above, your score is significantly higher than average.

Should I retake the SAT if I got a 1570? ›

Should I retake SAT if I got 1570? No, there's really no reason to retake the SAT if you've received 1570. As mentioned before, this is a near-perfect score that puts in you in the top 1% of scorers. No matter where you apply, this is going to help you stand out from the crowd.

Can I get into MIT with a 1500 SAT? ›

MIT SAT Requirements

You must at least have an SAT score of 1500 to have a chance of being considered for admission to MIT. If we investigate the data of previously admitted students to MIT, the lowest SAT math score was in the 700-740 range.

What is a good SAT score for Ivy League? ›

Ideal SAT Score for Ivy League Colleges

A good average aim should be 75 percentile or an SAT score of 1580 (out of 1600). But the main goal should be to earn scores that exceed the majority of applicants.

Should I take the SAT if I didn't study? ›

Maybe you need to work on the timing – more practice tests will help. Or perhaps you'll decide you need a tutor to help you review some of the math you've forgotten. Bottom line: taking the SAT or ACT without at least minimal prepping is never a good idea.

How much time a day should I study for the SAT? ›

Studying for the SAT in a month is possible, though it's recommended that you spend 10 to 20 hours per week over the course of two or three months prepping for the SAT.

Does SAT tutoring actually help? ›

Despite what many private tutors and test-taking agencies say, they can't guarantee success. In the end, it's all up to you. Tutors can be a great resource for students who've already taken these tests and are struggling to improve. Tutors are also great for students who have a hard time studying on their own.

What is the lowest SAT score for Harvard? ›

Estimated Chance of Acceptance by SAT Score
SAT Score (1600 scale)CompetitivenessAdmission Chances
1530 to 1580Avg +4%-7%
1480 to 1530Avg -2%-4%
1430 to 1480Reach1%-2%
Less than 1430Low<1%
1 more row

How rich is the average Harvard student? ›

The median family income of a student from Harvard is $168,800, and 67% come from the top 20 percent. About 1.8% of students at Harvard came from a poor family but became a rich adult.

Can I get into Yale with a 1500? ›

There's no absolute SAT requirement at Yale, but they really want to see at least a 1470 to have a chance at being considered.

What percentage of people retake SAT? ›

Only half of SAT takers retake the exam, with the rates even lower among low-income and underrepresented minority students.

Is the test retest reliable of the SAT? ›

The standard error of measurement (SEM) is approximately 32 points, indicating that, on average, if a test-taker takes the test again, there is a 68 percent chance that his or her second score will fall within a range 32 points above or below the first score.

Should I retake a 1570 SAT? ›

Should I retake SAT if I got 1570? No, there's really no reason to retake the SAT if you've received 1570. As mentioned before, this is a near-perfect score that puts in you in the top 1% of scorers. No matter where you apply, this is going to help you stand out from the crowd.

Do colleges care how many times you took the SAT? ›

Yes, colleges can see how frequently you take the test if they want to, but Colleges won't turn up their noses if you've taken the exam two or more. What colleges care about are the top scores that they see. This shows that you're serious about your studies and are willing to put in your studies' time and effort.

Does taking the SAT too many times look bad? ›

It does not hurt to take the SAT multiple times. Colleges cannot see how many times you have taken the SAT. However, writing the SAT is a stressful and time-consuming endeavor, so it's important to know how many times are right for you.

Is it worth taking the SAT multiple times? ›

Students can take the SAT as many times as they want. We recommend that they take it at least twice—in the spring of their junior year and 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.

Which SAT test is the hardest? ›

It depends on the student, but a consensus claims that Practice Test #3 could be the most difficult for a first-time SAT taker. It would help if you went over each practice test and ranked which one is hardest, so you can spend more time dealing with those before heading to the easier ones.

How many questions should I get wrong on SAT? ›

For Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, you can skip/answer incorrectly on average 9 questions on the writing portion and 12 questions on the reading portion. For Math, you can skip/answer incorrectly on average 17 questions between the calculator and no-calculator sections.

Is the actual SAT easier than practice? ›

Short answer: You'll do worse on the real SAT than on an SAT practice test. Will you score 10x worse? Absolutely not.

Should I retake ACT with a 35? ›

Should I Retake the ACT with a 35 Score? An ACT score of 35 is a demonstration of excellence in all academic fields at the high school level. There's no pressing reason to retake the ACT, especially with a score so close to perfect.

Should I retake the SAT if I got a 1080? ›

Colleges you CAN'T get into with a 1080 SAT score.

Instead, it's about giving you a goal to aim for when retaking the SAT. With a 1080 SAT score, you're effectively out of running for the Top 10 universities and Ivy League schools.


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