When should I take the SAT exam? How many times should I take it?
The SAT exam is offered several times each year: in January, March, May, June, October, November and December. There’s no limit to how many times you can take the SAT (though there’s an additional fee each time you do).
So if you can take the SAT over and over and over again, until you get the score that you want, there’s no need to study, right? Wrong. Without taking the time to prepare for the SAT, you won’t understand how to take the test. You won’t know the vocabulary covered in the Critical Reading Section or the rules of grammar you’re expected to know for the Writing Section. You won’t know how to write an SAT essay, or what material is covered on the SAT Math. There’s no substitute for making the effort to prepare effectively.
Moreover, depending on which colleges you’re applying to, a lousy SAT score could count against you. Some colleges and universities take your strongest Writing, Critical Reading, and Math scores, even if they’re from three different tests; others want to see your best composite score; and some want to see your scores from every time you’ve taken the SAT exam.
Don’t get cocky about being able to take the SAT as often as you want. Each time you take the test, stay as focused and be as prepared as you would be if it were the only time you’d ever be able to take the test. You’ll want to take at least three practice SAT exams, in addition to taking the PSAT, before you take the SAT. Getting a tutor can give you a huge advantage in helping you to understand material that’s particularly challenging for you, and to figure out how to prepare effectively.
Many students find success in taking the SAT three times. The first time is simply about getting through the SAT Exam, the second time about getting in the range of your target SAT score, and the final time is about nailing that score. Similarly, many students find success taking their third test in the fall of their senior year. A year older, with the distractions of junior year in the past, students are often most ready to nail the SAT Exam.
You can take the SAT exam as often as you want, but make sure you’re smart about planning when to take the SAT and how to prepare for it.