When Is the SAT?

SAT Test Dates and Registration Deadlines for 2019–20

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The SAT is offered seven times a year: August, October, November, December, March, May and June. SAT subject tests are administered on all of those dates except for in March. Also, plan carefully because not all subject tests are offered on a given date. SAT registration deadlines are typically about four weeks before the exam date.

SAT Exam Dates and Registration Deadlines

U.S. students have seven testing dates to choose from for taking the SAT in the 2019–20 admissions cycle. 

SAT Exam Dates and Registration Deadlines
Test Date Test Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
August 24, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests July 26, 2019 August 13, 2019
October 5, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests September 6, 2019 September 24, 2019
November 2, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests October 3, 2019 October 22, 2019
December 7, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests November 8, 2019 November 26, 2019
March 14, 2020 SAT Only February 14, 2020 March 3, 2020
May 2, 2020 (canceled) SAT & Subject Tests n/a n/a
June 6, 2020
SAT & Subject Tests n/a n/a

Be sure to plan ahead since registration deadlines are roughly a month before the test date. You can often register late for an additional fee, but even late registration must be completed about ten days before the exam date. If you miss the late registration deadline, you can still register for waitlist status up until five days before the exam date. If you are on the waitlist, there is no guarantee of admission to the exam, and an additional fee will be assessed if you are allowed to take the SAT. Waitlist requests are handled on the SAT website just like regular registration.

Other SAT Test Dates

The seven test dates in the table above are open to all students, but they are not the only dates that the SAT is offered. Some schools administer the SAT on a Tuesday or Wednesday in the fall or spring. Weekday exams have the benefit of not conflicting with weekend work or sports schedules, but you will obviously be missing all of your morning classes. Also, this option will be available only to students who attend participating schools. For the 2019–20 academic year, weekday exams are offered on October 16, March 4, March 25, April 14, and April 28.

Finally, like the ACT, the SAT offers Sunday testing for students who cannot take a Saturday exam for religious reasons. If you wish to test on Sunday, you will need to get a letter from an official religious leader that explains your request. You will also find that you have far fewer options for your testing center on Sundays since only a small number of students have religious conflicts on Saturdays.

When Should You Take the SAT?

You'll hear different strategies for when and how many times you should take the SAT, but a good general rule is to take the exam once in the second half of junior year (March, May, or June). If your scores aren't on target for your top choice colleges, you'll have time to beef up your skills and retake the exam in the first half of senior year (August, October, November, and possible December). Students applying to college through an Early Decision or Early Action program will typically want to take the exam by October of senior year.

To figure out whether or not you should retake the exam, you'll need learn what your target colleges consider a good SAT score. A 1000 may be fine for many colleges, while SAT scores for the Ivy League tend to be in the 1400 range or higher. 

Because the SAT tests the English and math skills you have learned in school, it is generally not advisable to take the exam before junior year. Unless you're an accelerated student, you simply won't have covered all of the material on the exam early in high school. That said, there are some special summer programs and awards that require early SAT testing. The scores from testing early shouldn't affect your admission chances as long as you take the exam again later in high school.

How Much Does Registration for the SAT Cost?

When you register for the SAT, you'll need to pay the required fee. The cost will vary depending on your time of registration and which test you are taking:

  • $49.50 for the basic SAT exam
  • $64.50 for the SAT exam with the optional essay
  • $30 additional fee for late registration
  • $53 waitlist fee if you miss the registration deadlines and are admitted to a test center on test day
  • $26 basic subject test registration fee
  • $22 additional fee for each subject test
  • $26 additional fee for a language with listening subject test 

If your family's income makes paying these testing fees prohibitive, you may be able to qualify for an SAT fee waiver. You can learn more about fee waivers on the SAT web site.

A Final Word About SAT Testing and Registration

The SAT, like all aspects of applying to college, requires some strategizing and planning. Be sure to map out timelines for junior year and senior year so that you don't miss important test dates and registration deadlines. If you are planning on taking SAT subject tests, planning is even more important since you can't take a subject test on the same day as the regular SAT.

Finally, be sure to keep the SAT in perspective. Yes, it can be an important part of the college admissions process, but it is just one piece of the equation. A strong academic record with challenging classes, impressive letters of recommendation, a stunning essay, and meaningful extracurricular activities can all help make up for SAT scores that are less than ideal. Also keep in mind that there are hundreds of test-optional colleges that don't require SAT scores as part of the admissions process.

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Grove, Allen. "When Is the SAT?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/when-is-the-sat-788709. Grove, Allen. (2021, February 16). When Is the SAT? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/when-is-the-sat-788709 Grove, Allen. "When Is the SAT?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/when-is-the-sat-788709 (accessed November 30, 2021).