An SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test that the College Board conducts for high school students seeking admission to undergraduate schools. This test evaluates the written, verbal and mathematical skills of the candidate.
Students who aspire to pursue undergraduate courses in either the US or Canada sometimes required to write this test. Few of the students even tend to rewrite this exam when they are not satisfied with their score.
However, some colleges have made the test-optional or have implemented test flexible policies. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the experience you go through to write the test itself.
One of the reasons behind retaking the SAT is to try to achieve an ideal score depending on the university/college you are applying to. Despite the other reasons that could be there, it would be wise to not go overboard as well.
When students take the SAT they undergo a valuable test experience where they forced to encounter pressure and time management.
However, this may cause some problems for some of them, like missing out on a concept. Thereby, when they take the test again, they will know what to expect and will also be able to prepare the concepts that were left out in the previous attempt. This automatically adds on to their score and consequently, their college applications.
This leads us to the question of how many times can you exactly take the test? And would it affect the admission process? Technically, the SAT can take as many times as you want. There are no restrictions as to how many times a student can apply and register for the test.
Although, the only constraint here is the time since the College Board conducts the SAT only 7 times a year. Therefore, if you’re applying for the next college academic year, you would have the chance to take the exam 7 times. However, if you take a gap year, that is a different story. Nevertheless, taking the SAT Exams too many times can be a downside.
If you’re applying to schools that require you to submit the test scores of all the SAT’s that you’ve attempted, it is best not to go beyond writing the test 6 times. Once you start attempting the test a lot of times, it could convey that you are not taking the test seriously enough. Therefore, if you have 6 or more SAT scores, it would not hold as much value in your college application.
There are ample reasons as to why you should not overtake the SAT. Aligning all your attention to this one test can pull you down in other directions. This could include your schoolwork, community service, clubs or even sports.
Dropping the ball in high school would take a major hit to your application since it holds just as much value as the other key parts. It is very important to take each of your attempts seriously so you can understand, assess and analyze what went wrong in the previous test and how you can rectify those mistakes for the next one.
If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade. – Tom Peters
You could also take practice tests by simulating the test conditions and building on your test experience. As mentioned earlier, attempting the SAT exams is all about keeping a balance between this test and everything else you are involved with in your school.
What is a good number of times to take the SAT exams? Sitting for the test for about 4 times can get you the target score that you need. It may take fewer or more attempts, but it is best to try to get your desired score within the first 4 tries.
Don’t underestimate how important test prep is because every time you write the SAT it counts. You could set up a schedule and take practice tests to get more familiar with the concepts and the style of how the questions asked in the test.
Read our blog on the top 10 ways to prepare for the SAT
There are a few reasons why it’s best to not take the test more than 4 times:
- You will need to end up sharing the bad scores of your previous tests. Some schools require the student to submit all of their SAT scores as it’s considered for admission. While other schools allow the student to submit just their best one using the Score Choice feature. However, it is best not to rely on this as you may not be entirely sure as to what the college wants. You do not want to have the chance of potentially sharing your disappointing scores.
- Taking the SAT Exams more than the required number of times can be a waste of money and time. Unless the test prep is taken seriously, it’s pointless to go down the path of taking the test repeatedly until your score improves. It additionally costs a lot due to the registration fees and unfortunately, you also tend to lose a lot of your weekend mornings.
An ideal timeline would be to start off with the free practice SAT to see where you actually stand. This would be your starting score. Next, go through your desired college’s website to see the average SAT scores that they expect from the students.
Then, compare your starting score with the average that they require and decide your study plan from there onwards. Lastly, you might want to register for 2 back-to-back tests for one as backup and keep the third date on reserve.
To sum it up, the college board doesn’t restrict the number of times you want to attempt the SAT. You can either take it up 2 times or 20 times. However, only the most recent 6 scores will stay on your file at a time.
Colleges tend to see all of the students’ test scores or just one. So, keep in mind to ace your test prep and bag your target score within your first two shots!