Deciding when to take the SAT is an essential aspect of your college admission journey. This article provides a detailed guide on choosing a suitable SAT test date, understanding testing center location availability, considering your personal schedule, and preparing efficiently for the test. Moreover, we cover aspects like retaking the SAT, considering college deadlines, the registration process, changes to test dates or locations, and SAT School Day.

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7 min read

When Do You Take the SAT? How to Choose When to Take the SAT When Should You Register for the SAT? SAT School Day When to Retake the SAT and Choosing an Ideal Test Date FAQs

When Do You Take the SAT?

The SAT is held seven times yearly, typically on Saturdays. The testing months include March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. For precise dates, you should refer to the official SAT test date schedule. 

For first-time test-takers, it is recommended that you aim to sit for the SAT in the spring of your junior year. It's also beneficial to plan for a retest in the fall, ahead of your college application deadlines. Most students find that their SAT scores improve on the second attempt, and it is not uncommon for some even to take the test more than twice.

Here are the dates and deadlines you must be aware of for the SAT. All deadlines close at 11:59 p.m. ET (U.S. time). For those taking the SAT internationally, you should consult the specific international dates and deadlines.

For this year, the SAT dates, registration deadlines, and deadlines for changes, regular cancellations, and late registration are as follows:

*Please note that your registration options may be limited if you take the SAT for reasons other than its primary purposes. Registration for the spring 2024 test dates will open later and is subject to change.

**If you plan to take the digital SAT and borrow a device from the College Board, you should register and request the device at least 30 days before the test day, earlier than the usual registration deadline.

How to Choose When to Take the SAT

Choosing the optimal SAT date is a strategic task that requires careful planning and consideration of several factors. Let's explore these critical aspects one by one:

1. SAT Testing Center Location Availability

The SAT is conducted at multiple testing centers nationwide, usually at high schools or colleges in the US. Yet, it's crucial to note that not all test centers operate on every test date, and seating capacity can vary.

Many students prefer taking the SAT at a location they're familiar with and that is conveniently located close to them. Check whether your high school is a test center and the dates it offers the SAT. If your school doesn't host the test, select the nearest location offering the SAT on your desired date. You can use the online search tool to locate SAT centers.

2. Personal Schedule

Junior and senior years of high school are typically filled with myriad activities and commitments. Therefore, specific SAT dates must be ruled out due to pre-existing plans, be it family events, vacations, or sports events.

Furthermore, if you plan on taking the ACT alongside the SAT, rest assured that the College Board and ACT coordinate every year to ensure these tests never coincide.

3. SAT Prep and Practice

A well-structured SAT schedule is critical to acing the test. Generally, students dedicate 2-3 months for focused study leading up to their SAT. If you’re not sure how to study for the SAT, using the Official SAT Practice can help you set a practice schedule tailored to your needs.

If you've previously taken the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10, you can use your scores to guide your SAT study plan. Resources like Official SAT Practice tests from College Board and sample SAT questions can help you prepare effectively.

4. Retaking the SAT

Many students opt to take the SAT for the first time in March, May, or June of their junior year. This allows them to leverage nearly three years of high school learning and leaves room for retesting if desired.

How many times can you take the SAT? There is no limit to the number of tries. Which means taking the SAT a second time allows students to fine-tune their preparation by focusing on areas needing improvement. Furthermore, familiarity with the test-day experience often helps enhance performance. Retesting is expected in August, October, and November, which aligns well with most college application deadlines.

5. College Application Deadlines

Lastly, remember that your SAT scores must reach the colleges you're applying to by their specific admission deadlines, so be sure to check when do SAT scores come out based on your test date. Regular decision deadlines for high school seniors typically fall in December or January, while early action or admission deadlines are often in November.

Since score release dates occur a few weeks after the test date and additional time is required to send them to schools, ensure to select an SAT date that allows for these timelines.

By thoughtfully considering these factors, you can select an SAT date that fits seamlessly into your academic timeline and personal schedule, optimizing your chances for a strong performance.

Getting a strong SAT score can help you get into college with a low GPA! Here's how:

When Should You Register for the SAT?

Timely registration for the SAT is as essential as choosing the correct test date. Knowing when to register can save you from last-minute stress, give you the best test center choice, and provide ample time for preparation. Let's explore the optimal registration time and other associated aspects:

1. Standard Registration

Typically, the standard registration deadline for the SAT falls approximately a month before the test date. Registering by this deadline guarantees a place in your chosen testing center (provided no unexpected changes or closures).

For instance, if you plan to take the SAT in August, you should aim to complete your registration by late July.

2. Early Registration

For students who need additional accommodations due to disabilities or for those who are below the age of 13, early registration is advisable. This allows the College Board enough time to process these special requests.

Furthermore, if you need to borrow a digital device from the College Board for a digital SAT, it's crucial to register and request the device at least 30 days before the test day. Check the list of what to bring to the SAT beforehand so you’re ready!

3. Late Registration

Missed the standard deadline? Don't panic. The College Board provides a grace period of approximately two weeks past the regular registration deadline for late registrations, though this comes with an additional fee.

While late registration provides some flexibility, your preferred testing center might be fully booked. To avoid such complications, aim to register before the standard deadline.

4. Changing Registration

If you need to change your SAT date or location after registering, it's possible but will incur a change fee. It's advisable to avoid unnecessary changes by carefully selecting a test date during the registration process.

5. International Registrations

For international students, deadlines and procedures might vary slightly. It's essential to check the specific International Dates and Deadlines to stay updated and avoid missing crucial deadlines.

Remember, a smooth SAT experience starts with timely registration. Choosing a test date that aligns with your academic and personal commitments and registering on time can set a positive tone for your preparation and performance.

SAT School Day

The SAT School Day is a unique initiative by the College Board that allows high schools to administer the SAT to their students during a regular school day. This initiative provides students with the comfort of a familiar environment on the day of the test. It offers an excellent opportunity for those needing help to test on a Saturday due to commitments, religious observances, or other reasons.

Benefits of the SAT School Day

  1. Convenient and Comfortable Environment: Taking the test in a familiar environment can help to alleviate test-day stress.
  2. Increased Accessibility: It allows for greater accessibility to the SAT for all students, especially those who may have had difficulty getting to testing centers due to transportation issues.
  3. Opportunity for All: It ensures that all students, regardless of their socio-economic status, can take the SAT. This can be particularly helpful in districts where cost or access may have previously been barriers to participation.

How SAT School Day Works

On the SAT School Day, participating high schools administer the SAT to their students during regular school hours. Schools need to coordinate with the College Board to set this up, and they should start the planning process well before the proposed testing date.

The SAT School Day isn't offered on all regular SAT dates but on specific ones. These dates are often in the spring and fall and may vary each year. Schools interested in participating should contact the College Board for the most current information and schedule.

If your school participates in SAT School Day, you will likely hear about it from your school's administration or guidance counselor. Feel free to ask your school about their participation if it has yet to be communicated and you're interested.

In conclusion, SAT School Day can be a game-changer for many students, increasing accessibility and convenience. It represents another step towards making college admission testing more inclusive and attainable.

When to Retake the SAT and Choosing an Ideal Test Date

Many students wonder if they should retake the test to boost their SAT scores. While the decision to retake is personal, some general guidelines can help you determine the best time and approach.

Reasons to Retake

  1. Improvement Potential: If you believe your score does not reflect your potential, especially if you faced unexpected challenges on test day or felt unprepared, it may be worth another shot.
  2. College Requirements: Some colleges and scholarship programs have specific SAT score thresholds. A retake could be beneficial if your score is below the average for your target colleges.
  3. Gained Knowledge: As you progress through high school, you'll continue to learn and refine skills tested on the SAT. A retake later in your academic journey might result in a higher score simply because you've discovered more.

Choosing a SAT Retake Date

Remember, while higher scores can enhance college applications, they're just one part of your overall profile. It's also essential to focus on other aspects, such as extracurricular activities for college, college essays, and GPA. If you decide to retake the SAT, approach it with a clear plan, dedication, and confidence in your ability to succeed.


1. When do you take the SAT?

The SAT is offered seven times a year nationally. The test dates typically fall in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. It's recommended that students take the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year and consider retaking in the fall of their senior year if they choose to.

2. How can I choose a suitable SAT date for me?

Choosing the suitable SAT date requires considering multiple factors such as your personal schedule, SAT prep time, availability at your preferred test center, the possibility of retaking the exam, and college application deadlines.

3. Where can I take the SAT?

The SAT is administered at thousands of testing centers across the country, usually in high schools or colleges. Use the online search tool on the College Board's website to find a convenient location.

4. How much time should I dedicate to SAT preparation?

It varies from student to student, but most individuals dedicate 2-3 months to prepare for the SAT. Using SAT study resources like official SAT practice tests, prep books, or an SAT tutor can help customize a study plan based on your needs.

5. Can I retake the SAT?

Yes, you can retake the SAT. Many students take the exam more than once to improve their scores. Taking the SAT for the first time in your junior year gives you ample time to retake the test if necessary.

6. When should I register for the SAT?

Registering for the SAT as soon as registration opens for your preferred test date is advisable. This will ensure you get a spot at your preferred test center. Remember, all registration deadlines expire at 11:59 p.m. ET, U.S.

7. What is SAT School Day?

SAT School Day is a College Board initiative allowing high schools to administer the SAT to students during a regular school day. This offers students the convenience of a familiar test environment and can provide greater accessibility for students who might find it challenging to test on a Saturday.

8. How can I ensure my SAT scores reach the colleges I'm applying to before their deadlines?

After taking the SAT, scores are typically available within a few weeks. However, additional time is required to send them to colleges. When selecting your SAT date, consider the score release date and allow ample time for colleges to receive your scores before their application deadlines.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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