How Many Times To Take The SAT | Prep Expert (2023)

You should probably take the SAT more than once unless you do amazing on your first try. However, because there’s so much pressure on students today to impress college admissions boards, it’s easy to go overboard and take the test excessively. It’s important to know when it’s time to finally stop and move on.

Take a minute to learn how many times you should take the SAT, how much is overkill, and a rough timeline for balancing out attempts versus preparation time.

If you’re in the process of preparing for the SAT, take a moment to check out our various SAT prep course options today.


How Many Times You CAN Take The SAT

In theory, you can take the test as many times as you’d like between your junior and senior years.

There is no explicitly stated cut off from the College Board. Moreover, the SAT currently offers 7 times per year that you can take it. That means within the space of two years, you could conceivably take the SAT 14 times…sometimes too much really is too much. Besides, even attempting to take it that many times will cause more trouble than good. Let’s go into why you shouldn’t take the SAT too many times first.

(Video) How Many Times Should You Take the SAT or ACT?


Cons of Taking The SAT Too Many Times

Contrary to belief, sometimes more is more. Taking the SAT too often can ironically cause more trouble than good. Here’s why.

First, you have to consider which colleges and universities allow students to use the College Board’s Score Choice feature. Score Choice, in a nutshell, lets you choose which test date scores you want to send to colleges. Let’s say that you took the test four times between your junior and senior years. Of those four times, you scored well on the last two, but not as high on the first pair. With Score Choice, you can just send those final two tests for consideration to the schools you are applying to actively. However, there’s a big catch. Not every college and university allows you to use Score Choice.

Schools like Stanford, Yale, and Carnegie Mellon, to only name a few, have a “send all scores” policy. In that case, they’ll see not only the test dates you crushed but also the ones that you didn’t do well on, and take that into account. That’s why it’s important when looking at prospective schools, to do the research and ask if they accept Score Choice submissions or not.

If they do, then great, you have the opportunity to take the test multiple times, and then filter through which ones to send over. If they are “send all scores” schools, then you have to be much more careful with your actual testing. In those cases, you may need to spend even more time on focused test prep and practice tests beforehand. Figure out what sections give you trouble ahead of time instead of finding out the hard way on test day, when the score counts.

Second, taking the SAT too many times will eventually cause you nothing but stress and cost more money than necessary. Why? Because over time, as you put more time into test prep and address your problem areas, your levels of point gains will decrease. We’ve seen it happen plenty of times; let’s say if you take the SAT for the first time and get an ok score.

Afterward, when you receive your score report, it’s easy to see which areas gave you the most trouble and to start digging into them before taking the SAT again on a second test date. You will likely see a significant score improvement because all the areas that easily tripped you up before will likely be easier for you.

However, let’s say that now you want to keep taking the test, again and again, to see how far you can push your score up. Over time, the score gains will noticeably decrease since you’ve already handled the easy improvements and now are stuck on sections that prove to be the most difficult for you. This decrease doesn’t mean that you aren’t improving.

(Video) How Many Times Should You Take the SAT?

What it does mean though is that the time investment you were originally put in no longer yields the same results. This is the point where you risk mental and emotional burnout by spending more and more time obsessing over minimal point gains. Your family will also run into difficulties too as retaking the test, along with any helpful test prep, racks up a large bill plus plenty of occupied Saturdays.


How Many Times To Take The SAT…For Real

In general, it is better to limit the number of times you take the SAT and spend more energy on resources to thoroughly prepare for each test date.

From our experience, we would recommend students taking it no more than three times or so. Why? Because, if you space it out over your junior and beginning of senior years, there is plenty of time to prepare for each test date, while also limiting the overall times you test. With that in mind, here’s a simple game plan of how to approach taking the SAT timeline-wise, so you can maximize your score potential without burning out. The final number is yours to decide, of course.

SAT Test-Taking Gameplan

Here’s our suggested timeline for approaching multiple test dates for the SAT, to maximize your score potential.

First, try and take full advantage of both your junior and senior years. Not only will it give you more time to prepare, but you can also space out the test dates to be favorable to your schedule and commitments. Many students will take the first crack at it in March of their junior year. This is one of the first opportunities to take the test and establish a baseline score; if you do amazing on it the first time, then great. If you see that there’s room for improvement, then at least you’re now aware of what to focus on.

After that, taking the test again over either the fall/winter is often done. Why? Because high school is out over summer and there’s much more time available to focus on test prep. Moreover, that test prep can tailor to those sections that need the most improvement. Using as much of your summer break as possible to sharpen up your test-taking skills isn’t a bad idea. After taking it in either the fall or winter, you now have two test dates under your belt with the second date scores being much higher. If you want to take one more crack at it, then plan on doing it in the spring of your senior year.

(Video) The Best Time to Take the SAT


You will have your holiday vacations from the late fall and winter to do a final round of test prep. Take that final test, see how your score ends up, and then put work into applying to your dream school list. Remember that applying to college involves more than just doing well on a test; other activities like filling out the applications, essays, recommendation letters, personal statements, etc. all come into play. Ignoring all of those facets until the last second will cause you trouble.

In the end, how you choose to plan out your SAT test-taking timeline is up to you, but this rough outline can at least help you figure out how much time to allow yourself for prep, avoid burn out, and not turn in subpar scores to schools that may want to see every test date score report you accumulate. Now let’s look at test prep itself finally, your secret weapon to succeeding no matter how many times you take the SAT.

Don’t Take The SAT Unprepared

At Prep Expert, we understand how much time and effort it takes to score high on the SAT.

Our founder literally took himself from an ok score to a perfect one using the very techniques we teach. Not only do we provide you with knowledge, but we also help provide you with confidence.

The confidence to walk into that testing center knowing that you have taken the time to cover your bases on every test section, taken man practice tests, figured out and fixed your problem areas, etc. Our proven strategies, taught by our 99th percentile-scoring instructors, have helped students both get into the schools of their dreams and secure lucrative scholarships.

The best part? We provide assistance year-round and always stay up-to-date with the latest test updates. If you would like to learn more about how we do it today, then be sure to check out one of our upcoming classes now or contact us by phone or email to get the answers you need.


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How Many Times To Take The SAT | Prep Expert? ›

Around four times of sitting for the SAT (sometimes more, sometimes less) should likely be enough for you to reach your target scores, along with many more practice tests and effective test prep on your own. Don't underestimate the power of prep in helping you master the SAT.

Is 4 times too many for the SAT? ›

Luckily, you can take the SAT as many times as you want. Many students take the SAT more than once; most even plan to write it at least twice before their first attempt. Typically, students choose to take the test in the spring of their junior year and again in the fall of senior year.

Is it OK to take the SAT 3 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.

How many times should I take a practice SAT? ›

How Many Practice Tests Should I Take? If you complete your registration at least 5 weeks prior to the test date, which is recommended, that gives you a full 5 weeks to prepare for the test. Experts recommend that you should do about 3 – 5 practice tests during that time.

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].

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.

Is it too much to take the SAT 5 times? ›

However, it is possible to take the SAT too many times.

In general, we recommend not taking the SAT more than 5 or 6 times. Taking the SAT more than 6 times may cause schools to think you don't take the test seriously or can't figure out how to improve your score.

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.

Does Harvard require all SAT scores? ›

When you apply for admission, you can choose whether or not our review of your application will include your standardized test scores (SAT and ACT). If your scores already are on file before you apply and you choose at the time of your application to proceed without scores, we will not consider those scores.

Is it better to take the SAT once or twice? ›

Taking the SAT Twice Is Recommended

College Board recommends taking the SAT at least twice: once in spring of your junior year and again in fall of your senior year. Most students who retake the SAT improve their score.

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.

Is Khan Academy enough for SAT? ›

Is the Khan Academy a Good Way to Study for the SAT? Yes! Khan Academy offers personalized and interactive tools and resources for SAT study and prep. The site gives students a tailored practice plan based on their practice scores or previous scores.

How many hours does it take to improve SAT? ›

As a rule of thumb, here is the amount of time students need to improve their SAT scores: 10+ hours of studying to maintain their score. 20+ hours of studying for a score improvement of 10-100 points. 40+ hours of studying for a score improvement of 100-150 points.

How long 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.

How common is a 1500 on the SAT? ›

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

How many times does the average high schooler take the SAT? ›

Most people end up taking the SAT two or three times. Some people take it a fourth time, but generally, twice or three times works.

Does the SAT get harder each time you take it? ›

A: Yes, the SAT is getting harder.

Why? Because the SAT is a scaled exam, and the College Board needs to maintain the integrity of the "normal distribution," a.k.a. bell curve. In other words, 99th percentile scores can only be earned by 1% of students, or else they would no longer be 99th percentile scores.

What are some tips for successful testing SAT? ›

Below, we break down nine ways to prepare for the SAT, with advice from test-prep experts.
  • Create an SAT Study Schedule. ...
  • Use Quality Prep Materials. ...
  • Increase Your Reading Speed. ...
  • Target the Mistakes You Can Control. ...
  • Come to Test Day Prepared. ...
  • Answer the Questions You Know First. ...
  • Eliminate Incorrect Answers.

Do colleges only look at your highest SAT score? ›

Colleges Consider Multiple Scores in Different Ways

But each college sets its own policy for how it uses multiple scores: Some colleges require all your scores. Some colleges look at your highest combined scores from one test date. Some colleges accept your highest section scores from any day you tested.

How much does it cost to retake the SAT? ›

If you are planning on taking the test twice to improve your score and take advantage of the super scoring system, you will have to double your registration costs. Thus, you will have to pay an extra $52 to take the test a second time without the essay section or $68 with the essay section.

What SAT score do colleges look for? ›

How SATs Are Scored- the Background. The SAT has two sections, Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing, with each scored on a scale from 200 to 800. To get into one of the top 100 most selective schools, you will generally need to have a composite SAT score of at least 1200, preferably 1400 or more.

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

However, as a rough estimate, you would generally need to answer around 85-90% of the questions correctly in order to achieve a score above 1500. This means getting missing between 6–10 questions out of the total 154 questions on the exam.

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.

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 SAT score should I not retake? ›

Never Retake a 1530+

The SAT User Percentiles are what matter since they're based on the actual scores of students. The Nationally Representative Sample is pretty meaningless. A student's percentile represents the percentage of students whose score is equal to or lower than his or her score.

What's the lowest GPA Harvard accepted? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

Is a 4.3 GPA good for Harvard? ›

To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .

What is the lowest SAT score Harvard accepted? ›

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. Exclusive: Want to learn how to improve your SAT score by 160 points? Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score.

Should I retake a 1390 SAT? ›

Does the SAT score of 1390 fall within the upper 50% range? If so, your score is considered to be "good enough." If your score falls below the 50% range, you might consider taking the SAT again. For example, my state university has a SAT middle range score of 1340.

Should I retake a 1370 SAT? ›

A 1370 SAT score will preclude you from getting into more selective schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Brown, and others of the same caliber. However, it'll put you in the running for Georgia Tech, Boston University, Claremont McKenna, University of Virginia, and Reed.

Do colleges care how many times you take the ACT? ›

You can take the ACT up to 12 times, and many students end up taking the test between 2-3 times before applying to college. Most colleges are neutral about multiple scores. Many students, in fact, make score improvements by retaking the ACT.

Does it hurt to retake SAT? ›

Unless you are interested in one of a select group of colleges, the majority of colleges evaluate your highest SAT/ACT score for admissions purposes, meaning retaking the test once or twice can generally only help, not hurt, you.

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.

Should I retake a 1400 SAT? ›

One of the only reasons to consider retaking the SAT would be if you're interested in attending institutions that are very selective or in the Ivy League. 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 2 months enough to study for SAT? ›

Two to three months of studying will put you right in the sweet spot for being well-prepared. You have just enough time to become an expert on the test and not let your grades suffer (especially if you're on summer break). But with this amount of time, it can be tough to stay focused.

Has the SAT gotten easier over time? ›

In many ways, the new SAT is much easier than the older version. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't study and be prepared! While the format may be better for some students, the questions are still designed to test your ability and skills in each particular subject.

How long does it take to increase SAT score by 200 points? ›

Even if you're already on a high score, improving your SAT scores by 200 points requires two months or even longer period of consistent studying and self-assessment.

Which SAT time is easiest? ›

According to our research and a meta-study of analyses: there's no such thing as an 'easy' test date for the SAT or ACT. Though it sounds simplistic, the easiest time to take the SAT test is when you feel most prepared.

Does the SAT get harder every month? ›

While you might have heard that taking the SAT during certain months can yield better results curve-wise, the truth is that this exam is equally difficult at all times of the year.

Is 3 months enough to study for SAT? ›

Three months is a great amount of time to prep for the SAT. You can spread out your studying and you'll have ample time to master the concepts tested on the SAT. It can be difficult to know where to start your SAT prep. The key is finding the right resources, staying organized, and sticking to your plan.

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.

What is the best age to start preparing for the SAT? ›

Junior school: The 11th grade, also known as a junior school, is the best time when a student can start the preparation for the SAT exam. This is an age perfect to comprehend things precisely and learn things at a good pace.

Is it worth taking the SAT 3 times? ›

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.

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.

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.

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.

Do colleges care how many times you take SAT? ›

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.

What is the max age to take SAT? ›

Candidates who want to take the SAT exam have no upper or lower age restrictions. The highest SAT exam participation rate was among applicants between 17 and 19.

What year do most students take the SAT? ›

Although you may take the SAT any time starting freshman year, most students take it for the first time in the spring of their junior year and possibly retake it in the fall of their senior year. Learn exactly how to register for the SAT.

Is a 4 on the SAT essay bad? ›

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 take the SAT a fourth time? ›

Don't Retake the SAT More Than 3 Times

Take the test more than 3 times and admissions officers will start to think twice about your abilities. Even if you do well, some will view you as a score-obsessed student with nothing better to do.

Is it bad to take the ACT 4 times? ›

Is it bad to take the ACT four times? While taking the ACT multiple times can improve your score, attempting it more than 2-3 times probably won't raise it significantly. In fact, college admissions officers might even look unfavorably upon students with many test attempts.

Can you take the SAT a fourth time? ›

“How many times can you take the SAT?” is a good question for families to ask early in the college prep process because it means that you're thinking about the SAT far enough in advanced that you can choose to take it more than once if you like. Here's the thing: students can take the SAT as many times as they want.

Is 1150 a bad 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 a 1050 bad on the SAT? ›

A 1050 SAT score falls at about the 49th percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 49% of all other test takers.

Is a 740 on SAT bad? ›

Unfortunately, 740 is not a good SAT score. In reality, it's a weak score that will keep you from achieving your college admissions goals. Although you're still outperforming the majority of test takers, it's still not enough to get you into the top schools in the country.

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.

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

You can take the ACT up to 12 times, and many students end up taking the test between 2-3 times before applying to college. Most colleges are neutral about multiple scores. Many students, in fact, make score improvements by retaking the ACT. Give yourself time to improve before you begin filling out applications.

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.

Should I retake a 1380 SAT? ›

A 1380 SAT score will preclude you from getting into more selective schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Brown, and others of the same caliber. However, it'll put you in the running for Georgia Tech, Boston University, Claremont McKenna, University of Virginia, and Reed.

Is 1560 a good SAT score for MIT? ›

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1500, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1570. In other words, a 1500 places you below average, while a 1570 will move you up to above average. There's no absolute SAT requirement at MIT, but they really want to see at least a 1500 to have a chance at being considered.


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