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.


Erin TrederArrow Right


Erin Treder is a freelance writer and editor based in Wisconsin. She has an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and over two decades of experience writing for various businesses, agencies, and publications. Her work focuses on bu...

Edited by

Hannah MunizArrow Right

Editor & Writer

Hannah Muniz is a senior editor with BestColleges, specializing in college planning, test prep, student life, and sponsored content. She previously worked as a freelance writer, composing articles on the SAT/ACT, higher education, language learning, ...


Cameren BoatnerArrow Right

Editor & Writer

Cameren Boatner is a diversity, equity, and inclusion editor at BestColleges. She's a Society of Professional Journalists award winner for her coverage of race, minorities, and Title IX. You can find her work in South Florida Gay News, MSN Money, Deb...

(Video) Should You RETAKE THE SAT | October or November SAT?

(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

Learn more about our editorial process

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

Image Credit: Willie B. Thomas / DigitalVision / Getty Images

4 min read

Share this Article

  • 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.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

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

(Video) The problem with America's college entrance exam

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.


Can you retake the SAT as much as you want? ›

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.

Is it better to answer wrong or not answer on the SAT? ›

The previous version of the SAT had what's known as a “guessing penalty,” meaning points were deducted for any incorrect answer. However, on the tests you'll take today you do not lose any points for wrong answers, so you should bubble in a response to every question.

Do colleges care if you retake SAT? ›

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. Chances are, you'll do better on the retake than on your first try. Most students do.

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 it hurt to retake the 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 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 C usually the correct answer? ›

Myth 2: C is the best guess letter and is right more often than any other letter. C or H are right (and wrong) as often as any other answer choice. The only guess letter you don't want to use when you are completely guessing is E or K because they only show up on the math test.

Is C the most common answer on SAT? ›

Every answer choice on the SAT will have a statistically even distribution of 1 in 4 for each answer choice letter, A, B, C, or D. In other words? There is no most common answer on the SAT. Ultimately, guessing C (or any letter!) will give you the correct answer only a statistical 25% of the time.

Is C the most common multiple choice answer? ›

Most people (and tutors) tell students that, if they have no idea on a question, to just guess answer choice “C” — the middle answer on most multiple choice tests.

What SAT score should I not retake? ›

Never Retake a 1530+

If you score a 1530+, you are in the top 1% of all test takers (based on 2017 numbers). The SAT User Percentiles are what matter since they're based on the actual scores of students.

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

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. However, some colleges do require applicants to send all their test scores.

At what score should I retake SAT? ›

Remember: You should retake the SAT® if you've only taken it once. You should retake the SAT® if you took a mock exam and improved by 100+ points. You should retake the SAT® if you are almost at the score you need for a scholarship.

Why did I do worse on my second SAT? ›

Statistically Likely Drops (Up to 100 Points Down)

So your lower SAT retake score, rather than being a sign that you got worse, could just be a correction to your surprisingly high first time score. However, it's also possible you had decent luck the first time but bad luck on your retake.

How many times does the average person 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 number of SAT attempts matter? ›

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 a 1600 SAT better than a 1570? ›

In the eyes of an admissions committee, a 1560, 1570, 1580, 1590 and 1600 are the same thing. They indicate an excellent student who can perform well on the SAT.

Do SAT scores improve the second time? ›

Research shows that students generally see modest score increases on the SAT upon taking the test a second time, says the College Board. A second chance is certainly good news for students who aren't satisfied with their first scores, but it can benefit high-achieving test-takers as well.

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

If people with 1420 have a high acceptance rate, there's no pressing need to take it again. If you are in or below the lowest 25%, definitely do some prep work and take it again. A lot depends on the competitiveness of the school.

Is 3 months enough time to study for the 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.

How much can Khan Academy improve my SAT score? ›

NEW YORK and MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — New data show studying for the SAT® for 20 hours on free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is associated with an average score gain of 115 points, nearly double the average score gain compared to students who don't use Khan Academy.

What is the best answer choice to guess on the SAT? ›

Because there is now no guessing penalty, it's always in your best interest to guess. Remember, a blank answer is always “wrong," but a guessed answer always has a chance to be correct. Some people may believe that guessing on the SAT shows a student's lack of preparation or strategy or that they've given up.

What letter is most common on multiple choice test? ›

Remember, the expected likelihood of each option being correct is 25%. And on tests with five choices (say, A, B, C, D, and E), E was the most commonly correct answer (23%). C was the least (17%).

What letter is most common in multiple choice? ›

The idea that C is the best answer to choose when guess-answering a question on a multiple choice test rests on the premise that ACT answer choices are not truly randomized. In other words, the implication is that answer choice C is correct more often than any other answer choice.

Should you leave an answer blank if you don t know it on the SAT? ›

You may be happy to learn that wrong answers won't count against you on either the ACT or SAT. Students will be awarded points for each correct answer with no points taken away for any incorrect ones. This is why never leaving an answer blank on your test is so important.

Which SAT section is the hardest? ›

Reading comprehension is often considered the most difficult section of the SAT for students to improve their scores. The prevailing belief is that students must improve their reading speed and proficiency in order to raise their score; as a result, it is expected to be a long, gradual process.

What is the easiest SAT? ›

Myth: The March SAT® is the easiest SAT test date. Fact: There's no such thing as “the easiest SAT test date.” While it's true that some versions of the SAT are easier than others, it's false that some test dates are predictably easier than others.

Is there a penalty for guessing on the SAT? ›

Most of the questions are multiple choice, though some of the math questions ask you to write in the answer rather than select it. On all questions, there's no penalty for guessing: if you're not sure of the answer, it's better to guess than leave the response blank.

How do I prepare for the SAT the night before? ›

  1. Take it Easy. There are two ways you can mess this up. ...
  2. Pack Your Bag. ...
  3. Get a Good Night's Sleep is a great SAT strategy. ...
  4. Wake Up! ...
  5. Get Your Heart Pumping. ...
  6. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. ...
  7. Stick with Your Routine. ...
  8. Leave Early.

Is it better to guess the same letter? ›

In truth, you have a higher likelihood of getting questions right by guessing the same letter every time than by skipping around. But why? The reason is twofold. For one, using a guessing letter saves you time and ensures a random guess.

Is it okay to take the SAT more than 3 times? ›

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.

What happens if you take the SAT more than 3 times? ›

The SAT does not place any limits on how many times a student can sit for the exam and students can superscore their best sections or choose which test scores to include in college applications, so there are many benefits to taking the SAT multiple times if needed.

Is it too much to take the SAT 3 times? ›

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.

Is 4 SAT attempts too much? ›

While you can take the SAT as many times as you like, for the sake of everyone's sanity my advice to college-bound families is to have their students plan to take the exam at least 2 times after some preparation but to attempt to take the test no more than 4 times total.

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

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.

Can colleges see how many times I took SAT? ›

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. However, some colleges do require applicants to send all their test scores.

How much do SAT scores improve the second time? ›

How Much Do SAT Scores Improve the Second Time? Typically, students retaking the SAT see score improvements by 40 points. A small percentage of SAT retakers often see an increase in scores in both Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections of the test by 100 points or more.

What is the disadvantage of taking the SAT multiple 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.

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

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.

How many times should my child take the 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.

Is it okay to take the SAT as a senior? ›

It's generally best to take the SAT in the fall or spring of your junior year and then again in the fall of your senior year. The specific month you choose depends on your outside commitments and how much time you want to prepare for the exam.

Is it better to take the SAT in August or October? ›

You should always take your first SAT as a junior, ideally in the fall. The October and November test dates offer lots of flexibility and plenty of time to study and prepare for round two should you want to take the SAT again. In the spring, try to take the SAT in March or May—or at the latest, June.

Which SAT score do colleges look at? ›

The short answer is that colleges do look at both the composite score and the individual scores. If you are STEM major and have a low Math section, that doesn't look good.

How many SAT questions can you skip? ›

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.

When should I stop taking the SAT? ›

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.


1. Why MOST Students FAIL The SAT| DON'T Make These COMMON MISTAKES!
(Ritesh Verma)
2. I made YouTubers retake their high school exams
3. Can You FAIL The SAT?????
(Revolution Tutors)
4. Vocabulary Masterclass | World Book Day | Ep 51 | SAT | GRE | Brainy Brats
(English with Brainy Brats)
5. Can smart people fail the IQ test? | Richard Haier and Lex Fridman
(Lex Clips)
6. Should I retake the SAT or ACT
(Megan Dorsey)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated: 03/31/2023

Views: 5533

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.