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How Many Times Can You Take the SAT? | The Number of Retakes Matters

Standardized Tests
by Bold Org Editorial Team
May 18, 2022
9 min read
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As high school senior students around the country start the process of applying to college admissions, there’s one piece of the admissions puzzle that is often a source of dread for many of these students: the SAT exam.

We all know that, despite its recent waning importance, an applicant’s SAT score is one of the most significant factors admissions counselors will weigh in determining whether a student is a good fit for a school.

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Since it’s so important for students, it’s crucial that you thoroughly prepare for the SAT, whether it’s through SAT online preparation programs and seminars or even just a good SAT prep book. There are also words you need to know for the SAT, as well. And perhaps just as critical to your SAT success is determining whether you need to take the SAT more than once for college admissions. We also suggest to learn more about college application deadlines here.

Ready to elevate your SAT game? A private SAT tutor from Learner can help you! Get the one-on-one attention you need to reach your full potential and boost your score.

But as a future college student, how frequently can you take the SAT, and how long is the LSAT? We will, of course, provide the answer to this question, but we’ll also address the question of whether you need to take the SAT more than once for college admissions, and if so, how frequently is too many, not just considering the LSAT cost? Find all the answers in our comprehensive guide to retaking the SAT!

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SAT preparation books

How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?

First thing’s first: let’s get down to the straight answer to the question how frequently can you do a test?

The short answer is that students can take the SAT as many times as they want. Students can do the SAT once, twice, thrice or more. That’s right, there’s no limit students can sit on the SAT. Knowing what to take to the SAT will help for each test taken.

In fact, not only can students take the test again and again, students can also take the test as often as they want. While some other standardized college admissions tests require a waiting period, often a number of months, the SAT has no such requirement.

If students really wanted to, students could sit the test every Saturday it’s offered for all they care—not that we would recommend this, for reasons we’ll get into a bit later on in this article.

But before we get into the reasons why "over-testing" is something that might be detrimental to your colleges and universities' admission prospects, let's take a look at some of the great benefits there are to retesting with the SAT.

In this next section, we’ll lay out our case for why you should sit the test more than once—even if you’re happy with the scores from your first testing. If you are still unsure which test you are actually supposed to take, check out our GRE or SAT dedicated article.

Female student studying for the SAT

Reasons to Take the SAT More than Once

There are many excellent reasons to retest for the SAT, regardless of what was your sat score was on your initial shot at the test. Here, we’ll go over all the reasons why you should consider retesting, some of them quite obvious, like underestimating how long is the SAT, some less so.

Initial Poor Performance

The most obvious reason to take the test for the second time is that it gives you a chance to get a better score if your initial attempt results are less-than-impressive.

With College Board’s “Score Choice” program, you get to choose which SAT test scores they send to your prospective schools. So, if you retest and do much better, no one at your selective colleges will ever know you did not get a good score the first time!

First-Test Jitters

Related to the first point, the first time you take the test is the most nerve-wracking. Even if you’ve prepared, you can never really know how you’ll respond to the high-stress, high-stakes testing environment.

Luckily, these nerves tend to be much more subdued the second or third time around.

More Focused Preparation

Once a student gets his or her test scores report from the initial student sitting on the high school SAT, The student can get some great insights into where you need to focus your attention for the test prep retest. To the student your target score, prepare and practice. Focus on test prep and practice tests beforehand.

The SAT score report doesn’t just give your total sat score; it will also include individual scores for each of the two sections and, even more helpful, it will present “subscores” to give you an idea of what kinds of questions and topics in each section you need to improve on most.

This is also why it’s important to ask the question “when do SAT scores come out?” College Board usually releases score reports around 2 weeks after the SAT. So consider how much time you’ll have to use this score report to prepare for a retest before you schedule it.

SAT “Superscoring”

College Board also offers a nice option called “superscoring,” which allows you to select the best scores for each portion of the test across different sittings of the test.

That is, if you retake the test and, say, improve your Reading and Writing score over your first attempt but end up performing worse on the math section, “superscoring” allows you to submit the highest score from each section. In this case, you’d want to select the reading and writing score from the second attempt and the math score from your initial attempt.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Not all higher education institutional allow “superscoring”! Be sure to check the admissions requirements for each school to which you will apply to determine whether they accept “superscores” or require only scores from a single sitting of the test.

The Law of Averages

Finally, on a more practical and statistical level, the best reason to retake the test at least once is that, generally speaking, the law of averages suggest that the more you take the test, the more likely you are to eventually get a score that is the most accurate representation of your abilities.

That is, the point of the “Scholastic Aptitude Test” (SAT): to determine your real aptitude for college-level study.

Person studying for the SAT and taking notes

Can You Take the SAT an Unlimited Number of Times?

How much times should you take the SAT?
While you can, in theory, take the test repeatedly, this isn’t entirely true in practice.

After all, when do you take the test? The exam is offered only seven times per year, in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. So, unless you begin taking the SAT as a high school junior, you’re basically limited to 7 attempts.

But there are even more factors to consider, like scheduling of test date. How many Saturdays during your junior year or senior year of high school are you able or even willing to spend taking a difficult, lengthy test? Moreover, do you need to carve out time to do other standardized tests? Let’s consider some potential testing conflicts.

Do You Plan to Take the ACT, Too?

While it is rare for the SAT and ACT exams to fall on the same Saturday, it’s still important to think about how you can split your study time to sufficiently prepare for each exam. And, unfortunately, it’s next to impossible to study for both simultaneously, as they are such radically different exams.

If you intend to take both the SAT and ACT in your junior year or senior year, be sure to focus your attention on preparing for one at a time to guarantee you’re in the right headspace for each when test time rolls around.

What About SAT Subject Tests?

While SAT subject tests aren’t a requirement for all—or even most—college applications, some highly competitive schools (specifically, the more competitive degree programs within those schools) do expect them. Can bad SAT subject tests hurt you? We covered this frequent question in detail.

Unlike the ACT, which almost never falls on the same days as SAT test dates, the SAT subject exams are offered exclusively on SAT test dates. That means, if you must take a subject exam, that will knock out one potential day to retake the SAT, as you are not allowed to take the general test and a subject test on the same day.

How Many SAT Tests Is Too Many?

Now you must be wondering, “Then how frequent should I take the test, and is it possible to take it again and again?”

There’s no real definitive answer to the initial question, as individual experiences and circumstances vary from tester to tester. Yet, we believe a reasonable maximum number of attempts is no more than 4 times.

Any number of attempts beyond 4 can lead to some potential negative consequences for your admissions prospects. Let’s look at what those consequences might be and explain why this could be the case in the next section.

Reasons Not to Over-take the SAT

There are three main reasons why you shouldn’t take the exam too frequently—more than 4 attempts, according to our recommendation. We’ll cover both of those reasons here.

It Gets Expensive Quickly

You really must consider the time and money of retaking the test multiple times. While it’s a good idea to retest, it can be prohibitively expensive to take it frequently.

In 2018-2019, the cost for each sitting of the SAT was $47.50 ($64.50 if you include the optional essay section). But there are other potential costs involved, like phone registration fees, late registration fees, rescheduling fees, and more.

Even if you don’t run into these fees and do opt to take the essay version of the test, $64.50 per exam for, say, 6 testing's brings your total to a whopping $387! Are you willing to fork over that much cash to take tests?

You Can Only Improve Your Scores So Much

The fact is, no matter how hard you study, what test prep and practice test you did and how many times you take the exam, there will come a certain point where you will simply plateau. There’s only so much improvement you can make in order to boost your scores.

Why is this? The SAT is an aptitude test, meaning it’s not designed to measure the amount of “things” you know; rather, it’s purpose is to gauge your intellectual potential and reasoning skills. That is, many students can’t improve their SAT scores by learning more “stuff”; they can only improve the scores by getting better at taking the test.

So, once you’ve mastered the skills and strategies for taking the SAT, it’s very unlikely that you will improve your overall SAT or ACT score beyond that point.

Admissions Committees Don’t Like Over-Testing

Perhaps the most important reason for not retesting too frequently is that the people who will decide on whether to admit you to their schools don’t really like it.

At best, these admissions officers will begin to discount score improvements after a certain number of retests; at worst, they might even develop an unfavorable opinion of you and your application if they see you’ve retested repeatedly.

Student reading an SAT preparation book


1. How frequently should you take the sat?

You can take the Scholastic Aptitude Test repeatedly, but we recommend that you take it at least twice—in the spring of their junior year and the fall of your senior high school year.

2.Can colleges see how frequently 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.

3.Do colleges see all your SAT scores?

Yes, the colleges consider a student's entire testing history over the following few given, generally paying most attention to the students highest scores. However, when colleges specifically need send all of your scores, this means they're considering your lower scores in the process.

4.What is SAT super scoring?

SAT super scoring is the college board feature that offers you an option to select the best scores for each portion of the test across different sittings of the test.

5.Are SAT scores that important?

While colleges consider several factors when they make college admissions decisions, the test score is an important piece of your college admissions. The higher scores mean more college choices for you. Higher scores can also mean more financial aid. If the package you receive isn't sufficient to cover your costs, sign up for scholarships here!

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