Generally, students take the SAT for the first time in spring of their junior year. They usually test a second time in summer or fall of senior year, but the best time to take the SAT is different for everyone. It can depend on factors like your level of preparation and college application deadlines.
Key Things to Know About SAT Test Dates
The SAT is administered nationally in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. There are also school day administrations in the fall and spring for participating schools. So, you have at least seven opportunities to take the test each year.
Check out upcoming SAT test dates, including anticipated test dates through 2021, and SAT registration deadlines.
4 Things You Need to Know Before Picking an SAT Date
#1 Deadlines for college applications
It’s important to consider deadlines for your college applications when scheduling an SAT date so your scores will be delivered on time. Typically for a high school senior, regular decision deadlines are in December or January and the most common early action or early admission deadline is in November. Be sure to check the official deadlines for the colleges you plan on applying to. Use them as a guideline when figuring out when to take the SAT. And leave time for multiple attempts in case you want to retake the SAT.
FREE TOOL ALERT: Use Make a Plan at BigFuture™ with your College Board account to create and manage a list of key deadlines and dates you can access anywhere.
#2. Make time to practice
Give yourself enough time to prep before the test date you choose. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel as you approach your SAT date. Set aside study time during breaks (summer and winter). Going on vacation? Take your study materials with you just in case you have some spare time (our Daily Practice app is great for this—see the link below). Here are a few quick links to get you started with your SAT prep:
- Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy®: Free and personalized study for everyone. Take official full-length practice tests, use interactive practice, and get a tailored practice plan based on your PSAT/NMSQT results.
- Daily Practice App: SAT prep you can use anytime, anywhere.
- SAT Practice Tests: Simulate test day with official full-length SAT practice tests.
- Sample Questions: Check out these questions so you’ll know what to expect on test day.
#3. School and personal commitments
You have a lot going on—classes, homework, extracurriculars, exams, jobs, family, and more. Consider these when picking a test date. Try to avoid taking the SAT at a time you might be EXTRA busy with finals, AP Exams, family occasions, big games, or school club events.
#4. High school classes help you prepare
The SAT tests general concepts you’re learning in your high school classes. All the English/language arts classes you’ve been taking since middle school will come to your aid when you take the SAT. Math classes like trigonometry, geometry, and algebra (elementary and intermediate) will be helpful too. So, if you haven’t taken a trig class yet, that’s a topic you might spend more time focusing on. If you’ve already taken classes like geometry and algebra, you can use your knowledge as a guide when you’re practicing and during the test.
When Should You Take the SAT?
College planning is a big step in your high school career and the SAT can be an important factor in your college admission process. Planning early and choosing test dates in advance will make your college application process a lot easier.
Check out this video for tips from other students on creating a timeline that works for you:
When should you take the SAT for the first time?
Take your first SAT in the spring of your junior year. This is the most logical time to take the SAT because it gives you time to make a study plan during the winter and during breaks. (Or even before that if you’re trying to be super prepared.) Once you get your SAT scores back you can use them as a guide to help you prepare for the next time you take the SAT if you need to.
When should you take the SAT a second time?
Didn’t reach your goal the first time? That’s totally okay—you have time to prep harder and get the score you want. Test again in fall of your senior year. There are three fall SAT test dates (August, October, and November), and 67% of students improve their score the second time around.