Your Complete Guide To Scheduling Your SAT Test
Standardized tests, although sometimes controversial, are a major piece of your college applications. For many students, they’re also one of the most stressful parts of the process.
One way to reduce your testing stress is to plan ahead and schedule your test dates strategically. In this article, we’ll map out the best dates to schedule your SAT and SAT Subject Tests.
With proper planning and solid preparation, you’ll experience less stress and increase your chances of earning higher scores.
How many dates can I choose from?
In the United States, the SAT is offered on seven dates each year.
The registration deadline is about a month before the test, with late registration available until 10 days prior. These dates mostly fall on Saturdays. If religious or other reasons prohibit you from taking a Saturday test, you should be able to find a Sunday alternate date. If you’re outside of the United States, you’ll have fewer options.
As for the SAT Subject Tests, they’re offered on six dates. In 2019, SAT Subject Tests are offered on the same dates as the general SAT, except for the March date. In March, only the general SAT is available.
It’s important to note, however, that some of the Subject Tests aren’t offered on every date. World History and language tests are available on just 1-3 dates each. U.S. History, Science, Literature, and Math Subject Tests are available on all six dates. Check the College Board website for specifics.
Can I take multiple Subject Tests on one day?
You can take up to three Subject Tests on the same date, with a few exceptions. You may take only one Listening test per day, since Listening tests are only administered during the first hour.
In addition, only one Biology test is allowed per date (either Biology Ecological or Biology Molecular). And because the general test is much longer, you won’t have time to take any Subject Tests on the same day you take the general SAT.
So, when should I take the test?
In general, it’s a good idea to take your first run at the SAT around March of your junior year. Give it your best shot, but remember that you can use this initial score as a baseline to improve on later.
Take the test again at the end of your junior year, around May or June. At this point, your score may be college application ready.
If your score won’t make you a competitive applicant at your top choice schools, put in some additional preparation during the summer. Register for the August SAT at the start of your senior year.
Your absolute last chance will be during the late fall of your senior year, but it’s best to avoid pushing it to the last minute. Remember that receiving your scores typically takes about three weeks.
Of course, the best date for you depends on several factors. Consider each of the factors below before scheduling your test(s).
Naturally, deadlines are your most important consideration. The typical rule of thumb is that you should start preparing for the SAT a year before your first college application deadline.
If you’re applying regular decision, this date will be in December or January. If you’re applying early, your due date is probably in November. For regular decision applicants, your absolute last test date will be December. For early applicants, your last test date will be October.
Do not take the test for the first time on your last possible test date. Plan to take the SAT twice, and even three times if you’d like to play it safe.
You may also want to look at scholarship deadlines to ensure that your scores will be ready in time for merit scholarships you’re interested in. If you’re an athlete, it’s ideal to be finished with the SAT by the end of your junior year. If college coaches aren’t certain that your scores will qualify you, they may look elsewhere.
Map out the deadlines for each college and scholarship you’re interested in, then plan for at least two SAT dates accordingly.
Of course, you also want to take your SAT Test when you’re prepared to perform well. For the SAT, it’s best to wait until you’ve taken Geometry and Algebra II, since both types of math appear on the exam.
In addition, give yourself a couple of months to prepare before your first attempt at the test. If you’re aiming for a big score increase after that, you’ll need at least 40 hours of preparation. Calculate how many hours you can commit per week and schedule your next test date accordingly. And if possible, more is always better when it comes to test prep.
For many students, scheduling the test right after a major break (like summer vacation or winter break) is helpful. This requires that you devote yourself to studying during your free time, but you’ll likely be rewarded with a stellar score.
What’s the busiest time of year for you? Be sure to avoid this time period when you schedule your test. Consider your athletic seasons, major events you participate in, and when your workload is usually the heaviest.
If you’re an AP student, for example, you may want to avoid May. You’ll be taking AP tests during that time, and trying to cram in another exam may be too much.
Do your best to pick a time when you won’t be feeling anxious, stressed, or overloaded. High anxiety and limited time aren’t exactly good test prep conditions.
If you’ll be taking several tests (e.g. SAT, ACT, PSAT, AP), be sure to look at a calendar as you schedule your SAT.
Be reasonable with your schedule, and space the tests out as much as you can. You want time to recharge between tests. You’ll also want to give yourself room to study, relax, and head into each exam feeling confident and prepared.
Final Thoughts: Your Complete Guide To Scheduling Your SAT
Typically, you’ll have seven SAT test dates to choose from.
A typically solid testing schedule is to take the SAT in March of junior year, May or June of junior year, and — if needed — August of senior year.
In addition to these general guidelines, consider factors like:
- College application and scholarship deadlines
- Adequate preparation time
- Your personal schedule
- When you’ll be taking other tests
Planning ahead will reduce your stress, increase your scores, and give you a better shot at the college admissions process.
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