When is the Best Time to Take the SAT?

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: February 4, 2014

Best Time to Give SAT

According to The College Board, the SAT exams measure literary, mathematical, and writing skills critical to a successful college career. This test is offered seven times a year, in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.

We’re asked all the time by both parents and students, “When is the best time to take the SAT?” Our response echoes the College Board’s own recommendation to high school students: if you’re a high school junior, now is the time to get cracking!

At the latest, a junior should take the SAT in March or May. There are good reasons to take it in March or May. First, a reasonable amount of time will have passed since you received your October PSAT score report. Using that detailed report as a guide, you can, with the help of an experienced SAT tutor, identify your strengths and weaknesses in order to study for the upcoming SAT.

The PSAT score report contains your answers, the correct answers, and a simple rating of difficulty for every question on the test. Because you also get back your actual PSAT, you’ll be able to review your work and learn why you made the mistakes you did and how you can avoid them in the future. You can, with effective preparation, expect to improve your scores on the SAT – the majority of students do.

When Do You Take the SAT? Choosing the Right Month

If you're on the fence about when to take the SAT, there are a few considerations in determining which month is best for you, March or May:

If you take the SAT test in May, you can get back a copy of the test, your answers, and the correct answers by requesting (and paying a bit extra for) the Question & Answer Service when you register for the SAT. Think of it: you’ll get a copy of the very SAT exam you took along with a breakdown, question by question, of each answer to its 170 questions. Talk about a great diagnostic tool!

The Q&A service is available in October, January, and May. If you take the SAT in March, therefore, the Q&A service is not available.

If you don’t want to take the SAT immediately before your AP exams, then March may be the better testing month – but if you need more time to prepare, then May is likely a better testing month.

But don’t stop there. The June SAT test date is the last of seven national administrations each school year. If you’re aiming for a higher SAT score, you can take the SAT one more time as a junior. Use our top SAT test tips to help you study!

All things considered, deciding when to take the SAT is a matter of personal preference. Analyze your schedule and ensure you give yourself enough time to study!

When Do You Take the SAT: 5 Critical Factors to Consider

Truth be told, there is no right answer to when is the best time to take the SAT. Your decision should ideally depend on:

  • How much time do you need to prepare
  • If the test center is available on your preferred date
  • College application deadlines
  • A streamlined timeline
  • Opportunities for re-testing

The more you plan, the better your chances at success. Remember, SATs are a high-octane, full-focus affair. Once you have a date on lock, you’ll have no time to dawdle. Keep these factors in mind before you settle on when to take the SAT.

When Should You Take the SAT for the Last Time?

Want to try one last time to improve your score? Wondering when should you take the SAT as a final attempt? A senior can take the first SAT of the academic year in October and have the results back in less than three weeks! For most students, a good score on this test will make it to a college admissions office by an early decision or early action application deadline.

In fact, most early action/early decision colleges will accept a November SAT score even though they’ll get it shortly after the deadline. But always check the college’s website or call admissions to be certain about when to take the SAT! With the exception of the University of Florida, most selective colleges will accept a December SAT.

While we hope you don’t have to take the SAT too many times, it’s always comforting to know that you will have another opportunity. And for Bright Futures, you can test as late as June!

A word of caution. Some colleges allow you to use Score Choice to select which sets of scores to officially report to them when you apply. Others, however, ask you to send all your scores. While virtually every college “superscores” the SAT (here's a list of the colleges that do NOT superscore the SAT), they will still see all the scores you send.

It is possible that some highly selective colleges will have a negative reaction if you take the test too many times or have some lower scores among those you report to them.

Hopefully, you’ve found an answer to the question “when do you take the SAT”. So, juniors, put together your testing plan now! Call us to talk about our private SAT prep as well as our small group workshops. Our expert SAT tutors will help you achieve a great score! And, of course, you’ll also want to take the ACT, but we've covered that in depth in our ACT blog posts.

Topics: Test-Prep SAT

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