You might think that signing up for the SAT is a simple matter. You choose from a bunch of SAT test dates, you book a spot, and you take the test.
But did you know this: the SAT test date you pick might have a major impact on your score.
I’m not talking about differences in difficulty levels of different tests (there is a technique called “equating”, which balances out any differences between SATS). I’m talking about picking an SAT test date that is best given your situation—the prior commitments you have in your life, the amount of time you’ll be able to prep, and that “sweet spot”, when all that hard work comes together on the SAT Saturday morning when you are well rested and ready to do your best.
The point of this post is to give you comprehensive, up-to-date information about SAT test dates. It is also to let you know other important SAT deadlines (such as Ivy League application deadlines) so that you can make the most informed decision.
Need a handy, visual reminder of upcoming SAT test dates for your kitchen fridge, office bulletin board, school hallways, whatever? We’ve got you covered on that as well. Print out and share our Upcoming SAT Test Dates Infographic PDF!!
Here’s what you’re going to learn in this post:
ALSO! There is a new SAT test date in 2017. Did you know that?! And it might just come at an opportune time for you, depending on when your school year is over (more on that below).
Let’s start by taking a look at upcoming SAT test dates:
2015-2016 SAT Test Dates
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||Scores Released|
|May 7||April 8||Mid-June|
|June 4||May 11||Mid-July|
|October 1||September 1||TBD|
|November 5||October 7||TBD|
|December 3||November 3||TBD|
We’ll update this as soon as we get more official information from the College Board.
You might be looking a little bit further ahead. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered!
2016-2017 SAT Test Dates
|2017 SAT Test Dates|
|January 21, 2017|
|March 11, 2017|
|May 6, 2017|
|June 3, 2017|
|August 26, 2017|
|October 7, 2017|
|November 4, 2017|
|December 2, 2017|
(Note the August test date above! This is huge! For the first time, the SAT will be administered during the month of August. An SAT right at the end of summer, when you are in SAT mode–assuming you’ve taken an SAT prep class during this time. Should you take the new August SAT? )
Remember how I told you this will be a comprehensive post? Well, check it out: we got you covered all the way into 2019 (yes sophomores–I’m talking about you!)
SAT Test Dates 2018-2019
|SAT Test Dates 2018-2019|
|March 10, 2018|
|May 5, 2018|
|June 2, 2018|
|August 25, 2018|
|October 6, 2018|
|November 3, 2018|
|December 1, 2018|
|March 9, 2019|
|May 4, 2019|
|June 1, 2019|
That’s about as much as the College Board will give us (though that should suffice, assuming you’re not in the 8th grade). If you notice, there’s a pattern that I doubt the College Board will deviate from any time soon: from past SAT test dates, we can tell that the first SAT after the summer is in the first week of October. The next SAT is in the first week of November. And the last SAT of the year will be in the first week of December.
A Guide to Finding Your Best SAT Test Date
The above are just a bunch of dates. They’re important, but really this post is all about you, when your best date is. I’ve organized this in a bunch of FAQs about SAT test dates. Hopefully, I’ve got you covered. But if not, you know the drill: leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
How should I choose my SAT test date?
Here are the three big things you want to consider:
1) What month is my schedule the least filled up?
You want one month of solid SAT prep. If that’s simply not possible, then commit yourself to at least two weeks of, at minimum, 90 minutes a day SAT prepping. If your play a sport and you know you have many meets/games, you might consider choosing another SAT test date. Are you taking a long vacation during winter break? Maybe the January test date isn’t right for you. Finding a time when you can commit to an SAT study schedule is most important.
2) When are the application deadlines for the schools you are looking to apply to?
Two things, starting with the obvious: make sure scores are out before college application deadlines. Not so obviously: give yourself room for a retake before applications are due. Planning to take the test just once is not strategizing; it’s gambling.
3) Near the test date, are there any other important tests that I have to take, whether subject tests, AP tests, or midterms/finals?
Maybe it’s the dead of winter; you aren’t leaving the country and the only extracurricular activity you plan on is eating chocolate ice cream and Netflix binging. But if you have another huge test coming up, don’t double book with the SAT, unless the following months will be even more busy and/or you are trying to meet an application deadline.
Which SAT should I take for acceptance into top universities (the Ivy League, University of California)?
The Ivy League: The Ivies have January 1 as their regular decision deadline, generally speaking, and early action or early decision deadlines on November 1. This means you can take the SAT as late as October for early decision/action (although it’s better if you take it earlier) and as late as November SAT for regular decision. For more information on why Ivy League schools coordinate their timing, check out this page from Cornell.
University of California System: Here’s the thing: the deadline is November 30th, which means you can technically take the SAT the first week of November. Scores will be out three weeks later and you can sneak them in just in time.
But that shouldn’t be your only strategy.
If you haven’t already finished your SAT testing Junior year, sign up for both the October test and the November test. If you do well on the October test (you’ll find out towards the end of October), you might still be able to cancel your November test date. If not, you can go to the November test with a cushion, knowing that even if you don’t do well you can just use your October scores.
If you don’t do well on the October test, you at least have the November test to do your best.
Which test date should I take for Early Action? Early Decision? Regular Decision? Rolling Admissions?
The answer all depends on the colleges you are looking to get into. So do your homework: find out the deadlines for each and then give yourself a two-month cushion. That way you can retake the test if need be.
In general, Early Decision and Early Action deadlines tend to be between Nov. 1st and Dec. 15th; regular admissions deadlines tend to be between Jan. 1st and Feb. 15th, and rolling anytime (though, if possible, it’s always possible to apply as early as you can). Again, check with the colleges you are interested in, just in case their deadlines are slightly different from the ones listed above.
When is the earliest test day I should even consider taking the SAT?
There was this show back in the early 90’s — Doogie Hosier, starring Neil Patrick Harris — about this super whiz kid who gets a perfect score on his SAT and then goes on to become a doctor at age 12. Most of us are not Doogie Hosier and so taking the SAT in the 5th grade would not be the best move. In fact, even by freshman year most students haven’t taken the classes that would adequately prepare them for the SAT. After all, how many have been in math classes dealing with higher-level polynomials or English classes in which they’ve read any of the Bronte sisters?
But if you have taken advanced classes (Algebra 2, English Honors, or are simply an incorrigible bookworm) and wouldn’t mind seeing just how well you can do on the SAT, taking the SAT as a sophomore might not be a bad idea. But you should wait to take the PSAT first. That score will give you a good idea of how you’d do on the actual SAT. If your score is near the top 10%–you might also want to take one of the full-length College Board practice tests–then perhaps getting the SAT out of the way isn’t a bad idea.
What is the BEST SAT test date?
The answer to this question depends, really, on the answer to all of the other questions here. Or, as I’ve said throughout the post: it all depends on you.
The best SAT date will depend on whatever time you will be able to commit to prepping seriously for at least one month straight. It will be well in time before school deadlines, so that you can retake the test, if necessary. It will likely NOT be when you have other tests, either finals, APs or SAT subject tests. Since ACT test dates typically fall on different months than SAT dates, you can study for both the SAT and ACT back to back–given you have enough bandwidth to prep for two months straight.
My hope is this: by the end of the post you will have the answer to this question about the best SAT date for you–an answer that is specific to your situation.
How soon after my SAT test date will I get my scores?
Traditionally, the answer has been about 2 1/2 weeks. With the debut of the new test things have changed. For the March 2016 test, scores weren’t out until May 10th, over two months after the test debuted.
Going forward, we are not going to have to wait that long–though students will still have to wait around five weeks after taking the test to get their scores in the near future.
Only time will tell whether this fall students will get their scores back sooner—which would be particularly crucial for students taking the SAT close to the college deadlines.
How early should I retake the SAT? And how many SAT test dates should I plan on?
This is a terribly difficult question to answer because it depends on a few variables:
- The school itself. Some schools don’t mind if you go into SAT junkie mode, taking 10 tests. They only want your best scores. Others — understandably — are wary of such desperation, and might be wondering why you aren’t doing much else with your time besides SAT prep.
- On the other side of the equation, there are some who believe that taking test more than twice is a mortal sin. The reality is most schools won’t mind if you take the test as many as four times, as long as those times are sufficiently spaced out and there is general improvement.
That doesn’t mean you should plan on four test dates. You should, though, plan on at least two, giving yourself a few months break in between. My reasoning is that SAT test taking is a skill that you’ll hone with practice. Taking a month or two off and then prepping for another month before the retake will ensure that those skills don’t become too rusty. (See: How Many Times Should a Student Take the SAT?)
If things don’t go well on the SAT retake, reassess what’s going on. Do you not have enough time to prep? Are you using a system that isn’t working for you? (if online along isn’t cutting it, you might want a tutor). Do you have test anxiety? (Check out our advice for handling SAT test anxiety.).
If you can justify taking another retake a few months off, then by all means do so. But if you are unsure about whether you should retake the SAT, or if you are still a junior, wait. Allow yourself time away from the test. Granted, coming back to it six months later will mean you are a little rusty. But give yourself six weeks to get up to speed. You might notice that your brain has become more adept at the test and you are able to score higher than during your initial forays.
What are the dates for SAT Subject Tests (SAT 2 Tests)?
SAT Subject Test Dates
|SAT Subject Test Dates 2016-2017|
|May 7, 2016|
|June 4, 2016|
|October 1, 2016|
|November 5, 2016|
|December 3, 2016|
|January 28, 2017|
|May 6, 2017|
|June 3, 2017|
You might have noticed that those are the EXACT same dates as the actual SAT, with the exception of March. There are no subject tests offered in March.
So if you have multiple SAT subject tests in the hopper, make sure not only to space these out but to also leave plenty of room for the main SAT test as well.
What about PSAT test dates?
These are the test dates for the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 test in 2016:
|PSAT Test Dates 2016|
|October 15, 2016 (Saturday)|
|October 19, 2016 (Wednesday)|
|November 2, 2016 (Alternate Wednesday)|
Mid-December: Online scores available
PSAT 8/9 dates for 2016:
This is a little different from the format for PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10. For PSAT 8/9, schools determine when they’ll administer the test. There options are as follows:
A date between September 16th, 2016 and January 27th, 2017 or February 21st and April 14th, 2017.
What do I need to know about SAT test dates and locations?
Make sure to register for the SAT as early as possible. When you go to the College Board site, you’ll be allowed to choose from a few locations, depending on your area. Choose the location that is close to you, has convenient parking, and you can get to easily without having to depend on someone to get you there test day.
What about this new August SAT test date I keep hearing about? Who should take the summer SAT?
Many students spend the summers taking SAT cram courses. Sure, this might be a masochistic way to spend those warm, idle months. But if you are one of these plucky souls, then you stand to benefit from the new August SAT test date, which will debut in 2017 (yep, you’ll have to wait a year).
Even if you study on your own, you, too, should jump all over this test date. The logic is your SAT skills will start to grow slack as soon as September starts and you are immersed in the daily grind of a new school year. I’ve seen students who were at the 2100 mark on the old test in August, not sign up for SAT class September extensions. More often than not, their scores drop quite a bit. Now, however, you can take the SAT when you are at the top of your game!
What happens if my SAT test date is postponed?
This is rare. But should it happen, College Board should typically give you the next available date. Or, as in the case of February 2016, if a snowstorm or other event closes a bunch of testing centers, the College Board may offer a makeup SAT test date. If it doesn’t, don’t just sign up for the next date. Make sure that it fits in with your schedule.
What happens if I have to reschedule my SAT test date?
You’ll have to pay $28. But if you have a very good reason for rescheduling the SAT, then try not to make that fee the final judge.
I’m an international student. What do I need to know about international SAT test dates?
The international test dates are the same as the standard test dates outlined above. If you’ve heard otherwise, then google [home country][SAT test dates]. But to the best of our knowledge, this shouldn’t be the case.
For SAT subject tests the picture is a little different, see the official College Board international SAT Subject Test charts for which subject tests are offered when for international students.
Whew! Thanks for sticking with me! If you have more questions about SAT test dates, let us know in the comments. And if you’re all fired up and ready to start prepping for your best SAT test date, well, we can help with online Magoosh SAT Prep.