How Many Times Can You Take The SAT Exam?

Despite what you may have heard, you can actually take the SAT as many times as you would like – but the question of whether you should retake the SAT multiple times is dependent on a variety of different factors pertaining to your specific academic situation. 

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should take the SAT a second, third, or even fourth time, then read on; because in this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how many times you can take the SAT, reasons you might take the SAT more than once, how colleges view multiple SAT attempts, and some tips & tricks for retaking the SAT.

Table of Contents:

  1. An Overview of the SAT
  2. Reasons To Retake The SAT
  3. How Many SAT Attempts Is Too Many?
  4. Things To Consider Before Retaking The SAT
  5. How To Prepare To Retake The SAT
  6. Frequently Asked Questions About Multiple SAT Attempts

An Overview of the SAT

First things first: the SAT is a standardized test that serves as a common data point for colleges to evaluate all applicants. The College Board, which administers the SAT, has designed the test to assess a student’s readiness for college. 

The SAT contains four total sections; a 65-minute Reading section, a 35-minute Writing & Language section, and two Math sections: one 25 minute section that prohibits the use of calculators, and one 55 minute section where calculators are allowed. 

Each section of the SAT is scored on from 200 to 800, and the best score you can receive on the SAT is 1600. As you can imagine, a perfect score of 1600 is hard to get, especially on your first attempt, and trying to improve your score is one of many reasons students elect to take the SAT multiple times.

Reasons To Take The SAT More Than Once

While there are certainly disadvantages to taking the SAT more than once, they are often outweighed by the benefits of multiple test attempts. Below, we’ll explore the reason why taking the SAT more than once will actually enhance your college admissions journey. 

Reason #1: Score Improvement

Let’s face it – not everyone achieves their desired score on their first attempt. The reality is that practice makes perfect, and the same applies to the SAT. Taking the test multiple times allows for targeted practice and the opportunity to learn from any mistakes made. 

With each subsequent attempt, you can identify the areas that need improvement and focus your preparation accordingly. By identifying your weaknesses and working on them, you have a better chance of improving your overall score.

Related Reading: How To Check Your SAT Score Online

Reason #2: Improved Familiarity and Confidence

The SAT is a unique test. It has its own structure, question types, and timing demands. One of the biggest advantages of taking the SAT multiple times is gaining familiarity with the test format and content.

 By sitting for the exam more than once, you’ll become more comfortable with the test environment and build confidence in tackling its different sections – math, reading, and writing. This increased familiarity and confidence can lead to better overall performance and more accurate representation of your abilities.

Reason #3: Strategic College Planning

Colleges have varying policies when it comes to considering SAT scores. Some institutions accept the highest score across multiple attempts, while others superscore, combining the best section scores from different tests. 

By taking the SAT more than once, you can strategically plan which scores you send to colleges, increasing your chances of meeting their admissions requirements. This flexibility in score reporting can positively impact your college options and give you an edge in the competitive admissions process.

Reason #4: The Chance to Showcase Progress and Growth

Admissions officers understand that high school students are constantly evolving and developing their skills. Taking the SAT multiple times gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your growth and improvement over time. 

If your scores show an upward trend, colleges may view this as a clear indication of your motivation, dedication, and ability to overcome challenges. It’s a chance to showcase your resilience and commitment to achieving your best.

Reason #5: Safety Net against Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a real challenge that many students face when it comes to the SAT. The pressure of performing well on a single test can lead to increased stress levels and hinder performance. Taking the SAT more than once can help alleviate some of this test anxiety. 

By experiencing the test environment multiple times, you’ll become more familiar with the pressures and expectations, which can help reduce anxiety and improve your ability to focus and perform at your best. Each additional attempt provides an opportunity to conquer your nerves and perform closer to your true testing potential.

Related Reading: A Guide to Checking Your SAT Scores

How Many SAT Attempts Is Too Many?

While there’s no arbitrary limit on how many times you can take the SAT, we recommend taking the SAT between two and four times. Now, you might be wondering why we suggest that 4 times is a safe limit, so let’s dive into that discussion below. 

Diminishing Returns

After two or three attempts, SAT score improvements tend to plateau. While there may be some minor increases in scores after the first couple of tries, the overall improvement rate slows down.

If you’re still not seeing significant gains after the third or fourth attempt, it may be time to focus your attention on other aspects of your college application. Remember, SAT scores represent just one data point in a larger picture of your academic and extracurricular achievements.

Cost and Time

Each SAT attempt costs $60 and time that could be allocated to other college prep activities. With test fees, transportation costs, and prep materials, taking the SAT multiple times can add up quickly. 

Additionally, studying for the SAT takes time away from other important components of your college application, such as essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. Time management is essential in the college admissions process – spreading yourself too thin by taking the SAT too many times may ultimately have a negative impact on your application.

Perception

When it comes to the college admissions process, perception is critical. Some colleges require all SAT scores to be sent as part of the application. If they see a long list of attempts, it might raise questions about your test preparation and ability to improve. 

While there’s no established rule about how many SAT attempts are too many, colleges may view repeated attempts in a negative light, particularly if there are no significant score gains.

What to Consider Before Taking the SAT Again

Before deciding whether to take the SAT for the third, fourth, or fifth time, consider these questions:

What Are Your Score Goals?

Are your score goals realistically attainable? If you’ve taken the SAT twice and haven’t seen a significant improvement, you may need to reassess your expectations for your scores. Talk with your college counselor or an experienced tutor to understand your potential to make score gains, as they can advise you on whether continued SAT prep is worth your time and effort.

How Much Time and Money Can You Invest?

As we discussed, taking the SAT multiple times can be a significant financial and time investment. Consider your other college prep activities, such as extracurriculars, college visits, and application essays. Prioritize these activities before deciding to take the SAT again.

What’s Your Overall Testing Strategy?

The SAT isn’t the only standardized test available to you. Depending on the colleges you’re applying to, you may have other options, such as the ACT. Discuss your testing strategy with your college counselor or an experienced tutor to understand your best approach.

In the end, the decision on how many SAT attempts are too many is a personal one. Remember, SAT scores are just one aspect of your college application. Aim to present a well-rounded package that showcases your academic strengths, extracurricular involvement, and personal qualities.

How To Prepare To Retake The SAT

Preparing to retake the SAT multiple times can be a strategic approach for many students who want to achieve their target scores. By planning a timeline in advance, you can maximize your chances of success and avoid scrambling to find test dates. Below, we will explore a suggested timeline and strategies for preparing to retake the SAT.

  • Study during the summer before junior year: Begin your preparation by utilizing online resources, such as SAT Questions of the Day, official practice tests, sample questions, and books. This will give you a solid foundation of knowledge and familiarize yourself with the exam format.
  • Register for and take your first real SAT test in the fall of junior year: This initial test will serve as a baseline to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your performance, you can decide whether to retake the test.
  • Prep during the winter of junior year and retake the SAT in the spring: Evaluate your first SAT performance and identify areas for improvement. Use this time to study those concepts and take advantage of available SAT Subject Tests. If you still feel unsatisfied with your scores, plan for another attempt in the fall of your senior year.
  • Intensive test prep during the summer between junior and senior year: This period is crucial to focus on areas where you struggled in the previous SAT tests. Dedicate ample time to understanding the concepts and reinforce your knowledge through practice problems. Recognize that this test in the fall of your senior year may be your last opportunity to achieve your target scores.
  • Take the first SAT test available in your senior year: Aim to take the October SAT test, shortly after your summer studying is completed and before schoolwork becomes overwhelming. If you feel unsatisfied with your performance, you can potentially retake the test once more, depending on your college application deadlines. However, keep in mind that this is not an ideal time to take the SAT as you will also be busy with other application requirements. Check with the admissions office of your target colleges to clarify whether they will accept scores that arrive after their stated deadline.
  • Partner with an experienced SAT Tutor: A study conducted by the Princeton Review found that those who participated in test prep activities, like partnering with an SAT tutor, scored an average of 100 points higher than those who did not. Fortunately, Inspirica Pros has a wealth of SAT tutors available to help you improve your score on the exam. 


For ambitious students, it may be possible to start preparing for the SAT as early as 9th or 10th grade. By incorporating SAT preparation into your schedule throughout your sophomore year, you can be well-prepared and have your scores in hand before beginning the rest of the college application process. However, this approach is recommended for academically strong students who are confident in their math, reading, and writing abilities.

Final Thoughts On How Many Times To Take The SAT

As an SAT tutor, my advice is always to prepare thoroughly, take the test when you’re ready, and use your best judgment when deciding whether to retake it. Remember, the SAT is important, but it’s not the sole determinant of your college future. Focus on building a strong overall application, and you’ll be on the right path to success.

In conclusion, the question “How many times can you take the SAT?” doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your individual circumstances, college goals, and how you’re scoring on practice tests. Use this guide as a roadmap to help you navigate your SAT journey, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help along the way. Good luck, and happy studying!

Frequently Asked Questions About Taking The SAT Multiple Times

Do colleges see how many times you take the SAT?

The answer is a bit nuanced, but here’s the straightforward scoop: It depends on the college’s policy and your use of the College Board’s Score Choice option.

The College Board allows you to choose which SAT scores to send to colleges, thanks to Score Choice. If a college participates in Score Choice, you have the power to send only your best scores, and colleges won’t see how many times you sat for the exam. However, not all institutions play by these rules. Some colleges require you to submit all of your test scores, which means they will see each attempt.

What happens if I retake the SAT and get a lower score?

Firstly, it’s important to remember that fluctuations in SAT scores are more common than you might think. Various factors can affect your performance on test day, from stress to lack of sleep. If your score dips on a subsequent attempt, don’t panic. Most colleges are looking for consistent performance or improvement, but they understand that everyone has off days.

Many colleges consider your highest SAT score for admissions decisions, and some even SuperScore, meaning they’ll take your highest section scores from multiple test dates to create a new, often higher, composite score. This method can work to your advantage if you’ve scored higher on different sections across multiple sittings.

Can you take the SAT an unlimited number of times?

Technically, yes, you can take the SAT an unlimited number of times; however, as we mentioned above, we only recommend taking it a maximum of 4 times. Beyond that amount, you’re likely to see diminishing returns in your SAT score improvement, and with a cost of $60 per exam, taking the SAT more than 4 times can be costly. Plus, the SAT is only offered 7 times a year, so theoretically you could only take the exam 28 times if you were to start taking it your freshman year of highschool. 

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