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How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?

As you begin to plan your standardized test schedule, you may be wondering how many times you can take the SAT. Luckily for you, you can take the SAT as many times as you’d like. There is no limit at all. But, does this mean you should take the exam over and over? Probably not. Read on for our guide to what this means for your test planning.

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How many times do students usually take the SAT?

Students typically take the SAT between two and three times. It’s a good idea to take it at least two times, to ensure that you didn’t have a fluke day on your first go. Furthermore, you can use the results you get back to focus your studying and improve your next score. It’s very common for students to score better on their second SAT than their first.

Related: How many times can you take the ACT?

When is the best time to take the SAT?

The College Board, which is the organization that runs the SAT, recommends taking the SAT at least twice. They recommend taking it during the spring of your junior year and the fall of your senior year. This gives you ample time to retake it if you decide to, but also has you take it while you are in the thick of the classes that will help you prepare the best.

That being said, it’s never too early to take a practice test. You should start taking practice tests as early as possible as part of your studying routine. They will help show you which areas you need to study the most. Additionally, taking practice tests will help accustom you to the routine and rhythm of taking standardized tests. It can be a challenge to sit and take a 3-hour test. The more used to it you are, the better you’ll perform.

Related: 2021-2022 SAT test dates

Preparing for the SAT

If you’ve already taken the PSAT, you’re already on track to prepare for the SAT! You can use your PSAT scores to determine the areas you are confident in and the ones that need more work. These results can be used as a study guide and a jumping-off point for the studying process. 

You’ll also want to find a good test prep tutor, and study early and often. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. And as you study, make sure to focus on your weaknesses rather than your strengths. While it may feel more satisfying to practice the things you already know, it won’t help your score as much.

For students who don’t have the resources or don’t want a tutor, check out online test prep resources. Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to design custom prep courses. These can be a great resource, and since they are developed in collaboration with the group that makes the SAT, you can be sure they are accurate representations of what you’ll see on the exam.

Also see: Free SAT study resources

Don’t go overboard!

Remember, SAT scores are only one of many factors that colleges look at for admissions. If you focus on SATs too much, you may actually be hurting your application. If your grades drop or you stop your extracurriculars to study and retake the test over and over, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Make sure to balance your SAT studying with the rest of your workload.

Related: How to improve your SAT score in 6 steps

What are the chances my score will improve?

Overall, you have a high chance of improving your score. Each time you take the SAT, you become better at the routine of taking the test. Furthermore, if you put in the time and focus on your results, you can fine-tune your studying. This means that theoretically, taking the test at least 2 or 3 times is a good idea. It will help you get the best possible score you can get.

Related: What is a high SAT score?

SAT Superscore

An additional advantage to taking the SAT multiple times is the possibility of using your SAT superscore. If you are applying to schools that accept superscores, you’ll want to take the SAT at least 3 times. Superscores take the highest score that you managed in each section and conglomerate them all into one. That means, if you do well on the math section on one go, and well on the reading section on another, you’ll get a score that uses both of your best scores.

For more information: What is an SAT Superscore?

Considering other tests

The SAT and ACT test similar skills, but they do so a bit differently. You should examine both tests and determine which suits your skillset better. Here are some of the key differences between the two:

  • SAT – has a no-calculator math section, whereas the ACT does not
  • ACT – covers a wider ground of math subjects
  • SAT – offers more time per question, but they tend to involve more thinking
  • ACT –  has a science section, while the SAT has science questions throughout other sections

It’s a good idea to try your hand at both. If you take practice tests early on, you can see which suits you better. Then, you can tailor your studying towards that exam.

Also see: ACT vs SAT: How to decide which to take

Summing it up

  • You can take the SAT as many times as you’d like, but most students only take it 2-3 times
  • Using your PSAT results can help you fine-tune your studying
  • It’s a good idea to start taking the SAT early, especially in your junior year
  • Don’t go overboard in retaking the test; balance it with other responsibilities
  • Retaking the SAT can be especially helpful for students applying to superscore schools
  • You should look into the differences between the SAT and ACT to see which you’ll score better in

If you’re planning out your test prep schedule, we’ve got many resources to help you through the rest of your high school experience into your admissions! Check out our high school checklist, which covers freshman through senior year. We can also show you how to best spend your summer before senior year, including with free programs. Finally, make sure to check out our tips for a successful college application and our insider’s insight into an admissions office. Good luck out there!