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Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Free SAT Tests by State

Stack of pennies over map of U.S. to represent free SAT tests by state

It’s becoming easier than ever to take the SAT for free. While students throughout the United States can get fee waivers if they fall under certain income thresholds, the College Board (SAT testmaker) is now partnering with states and school districts to provide the exam for free to all their 11th-grade students. In fact, around 960,000 students took the exam for free through this program in 2019. But how do you know if you live in one of the states that provide the SAT for free?

That’s where we come in! Here’s what you need to know about taking the SAT for free, state-by-state.

Table of Contents


 

States That Provide the SAT for Free

 
states that provide the SAT for free - image by Magoosh
 
High-school juniors who live in the following states (and districts) can currently take the SAT for free (under certain conditions, which we’ll get to in a moment!).

Note: As of June 2021, the College Board (SAT test-maker) is no longer offering the SAT with writing (essay). Therefore, any states that used to require the essay won’t anymore–because it won’t be available anywhere!

 

Arizona

Arizona is one of the newest states to join those offering the SAT for free—or it will be, as of 2022! Here’s what will happen next year:

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? Yes (chosen by district)
  • Offered in public high schools only?*Yes

Taking the Arizona SAT or want more info? Find out more about taking the SAT for free in Arizona (PDF)!

 

Colorado

If you’re a student in Colorado, the SAT is a graduation requirement. The upside? The state pays for it! Here are the details.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Need more info about taking the SAT in Colorado? Find out more about the Colorado SAT here!

 

Connecticut

Planning to take the SAT in Connecticut? The state will pay for it. Actually, it requires it of all 11th graders. So here’s what you need to know!

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Want details about taking the SAT in Connecticut? Find out more about the Connecticut SAT here!

 

Delaware

Delaware students, your state requires the SAT for graduation. Here’s what you need to know!

Improve your SAT score; start your Magoosh SAT prep today
  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Curious about taking the SAT in Delaware? Find out more about the Delaware SAT here!

 

District of Columbia

We know, we know…D.C.’s not a state (yet?). But your district still gives you the option to take the SAT for free! Here are the details.

  • Required for graduation? No
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Will you be taking the SAT in Washington, D.C.? Find out more about the D.C. SAT here!

 

Florida

Floridians, you can take the SAT sponsored by your state–but you don’t have to, if you take the ACT instead! Note that this was implemented as part of COVID-19 relief in 2021 and may not last, so check back for updates. Here’s the info in a nutshell.

  • Required for graduation? No
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? Yes
  • Offered in public high schools only?* Yes

Want more info on Florida’s SAT programming? Here’s what you need to know about the Florida SAT (PDF)!

 

Idaho

If you live in Idaho and were planning on paying for the SAT…not so fast! It’s free in your state! Here are the details.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Need more info about taking the SAT in Idaho? Find out more about the Idaho SAT here!

 

Illinois

It’s true, Illinois students: the state pays for you to take the SAT (but that’s because it’s required)! Here’s a breakdown of key information you should know.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Want details about taking the SAT in Illinois? Find out more about the Illinois SAT here!

 

Maine

In Maine, students can take the SAT for free—but they don’t have to! Here’s what you need to know.

  • Required for graduation? No
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Curious about taking the SAT in Maine? Find out more about the Maine SAT here!

 

Michigan

Since 2015, Michigan has required all public-school students to take the SAT in 11th grade. The bonus? You’ll also take the PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT 10, so you’ll be well-prepared!

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Will you be taking the SAT in Michigan? Find out more about the Michigan SAT (PDF) here!

 

Minnesota

Lucky Minnesotans, you have the choice of taking the ACT OR the SAT for free. Here’s what you need to know about the SAT in your state.

  • Required for graduation? No
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? Yes
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Want details on taking the SAT in Minnesota? You can find more info here about the Minnesota SAT!

 

New Hampshire

New Hampshire has used the SAT as its 11th grade test since 2016. The bad news is that it’s required—but the good news is that it’s free!

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Need more info about taking the SAT in New Hampshire? Find out more about the New Hampshire SAT here!

 

Ohio

The thing about Ohio is that it’s round in both ends, high in the middle…and offers the SAT for free. If you’re a student in Ohio, you’re among those who can take the SAT for free! Do you have to? Not if you take the ACT instead. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of ACT/SAT? Yes
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Curious about taking the SAT in Ohio? Find out more about the Ohio ACT here!

 

Oklahoma

Not only do you have a catchy musical about your state, Oklahomans, but you also have the chance to take the SAT for free! Well, some of you do—it varies by district. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of ACT/SAT? No (varies by district)
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Will you be taking the SAT in Oklahoma? Find out more about the Oklahoma SAT here!

 

Rhode Island

Rhode Islanders, your state provides the SAT for free. In fact, it requires it! However, you’ll get good preparation in 10th grade—you’ll take the PSAT then.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Want details about taking the SAT in Rhode Island? Find out more about the Rhode Island SAT here!

 

South Carolina

South Carolina students can take either the ACT or SAT to meet graduation requirements.

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of ACT/SAT? Yes
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Will you be taking the SAT in South Carolina? Find out more about the South Carolina SAT here!

 

Tennessee

If you live in Tennessee, your district will choose to give you either the ACT or the SAT for free. If you’re super lucky (or super unlucky, depending on how you look at it), your district can also choose to give you both!

  • Required for graduation? Yes
  • Choice of SAT/SAT? Yes (varies by district)
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Will you be taking the SAT in Tennessee? Find out more about the Tennessee SAT here!

 

West Virginia

West Virginians, you can either take the SAT for free or the West Virginia Alternative Summer Assessment. If you’re planning on applying to colleges that accept the SAT, it may be your better bet here!

  • Required for graduation? Yes (or the WVASA)
  • Choice of SAT/ACT? No, but choice with the WVASA
  • Offered in public high schools only? Yes

Curious about taking the SAT in West Virginia? Find out more about the West Virginia SAT here!

 

FAQ: Free SATs by State

Wait a Minute…I Took the SAT for Free, and I’m Pretty Sure I Don’t Live in New Hampshire!

Don’t worry! You’re (probably) not going to get stuck with a bill for the $52 test fee ($68 with writing) anytime soon.

In addition to state partnerships, the College Board is also cultivating partnerships with individual school districts in many states. In fact, students in over 3,000 districts have participated in SAT School Day, or state/district-sponsored SAT administrations during (yup) school days!

Hmm…This Still Doesn’t Match up with my SAT School-Day Experience Last Year

Keep in mind that College Board/state contracts are usually annual. They can—and do—change from one year to the next. For example, Arizona just announced changes that will apply to 2022. So this information changes regularly!

What will happen in the future?

As you can see, it’s really important to be aware of what’s going on between your state or district and the College Board! A lot of changes have been afoot in recent years…and it’s not just due to a sudden wave of politicians’ generosity.

Different presidents and Department of Education officials have different testing priorities. Over the past decade, states have begun to get money from the federal government for accountability testing, to check up on whether students are, well, learning what they’re supposed to. The Department of Education requires that states test high school students at least once. And some states have determined that they can use the SAT or ACT for this purpose.

In terms of what that means for you, you may not have to take an additional statewide accountability exam just to show the DoE how your school’s doing. Instead, your testing will benefit you as much as them! Because no matter why you’re taking the SAT for free, if it’s official, your scores are still valid for college admissions.

How do I make the most of my free SAT?

First of all, be aware of both the benefits and the drawbacks to free, state- or district-sponsored testing. Yes, there are drawbacks—even though there’s a lot to be happy about to! So let’s start there.

Pros of Taking the School-Based SAT for Free

  1. Uh…it’s free! That’s $52 in your pocket to spend on something other than a test.
  2. It’s a great opportunity to take the exam twice. If you were going to pay to take the SAT anyway, now you can take it both on a school day and on a regularly scheduled SAT exam day. This will give you a great shot at maximizing your score.
  3. You won’t have to take the test on a weekend morning! (Probably.) And you’ll get out of class for most of the day, too! (Uh…not that that’s a pro or anything.)
  4. Annoying registration stuff is minimized. You won’t have to think about where to take the test, what test date is best for you, how not to get lost, any of that stuff. Thanks, state-based SAT exam partnership!

Cons of Taking the School-Based SAT for Free

It’s not all sunshine and daisies, though. Don’t get me wrong, the pros far outweigh the cons, but you definitely want to be aware of the cons going into this thing. For example:

  1. You won’t get to choose your test date. Your school district will.

    In the 2020-21 school year, the SAT offered schools and districts the choice of test dates in September, October, March (x2) and April (x2). However, unless your school is exceptional, it’s unlikely that it offered more than one or two of those dates.

    Why is this important? As Chris points out, your SAT test date can have a major impact on your score. With that in mind, make sure that you plan to use your free SAT in the most helpful way possible. Make a study plan early, decide if you’re going to pay to take the test again, and consider whether you’re going to take the ACT or SAT subject tests as well. If so, plan how you’re going to fit them into your exam schedule.

  2. It may make score reporting more confusing. For example, there IS a nationally administered (weekend) October SAT, as well as the October SAT school day. It’s not a fantastic idea to take both—you won’t have time to get feedback on your performance on the first before taking the second—but if you do, pay extra attention when you choose which scores you want sent to schools.
  3. You may benefit from taking the ACT also or instead of the SAT. Some students perform better on the ACT; some colleges may require the ACT. In any case, it’s a good idea to see where you’d stand, percentile-wise, on both tests by taking a practice exam for each before testing. Yes, it’s another test, but it may pay huge dividends when it comes to college admissions! Downside here? You may have to take the SAT at school anyway, for state accountability purposes.

    Some states do offer both tests for free to juniors, so check out the states that provide the ACT for free.


 

Taking the SAT for Free by State: Takeaways

I know, it’s a ton of information to process! At the end of the day, even if you’re relatively sure you can take the SAT for free, it’s still a good idea to check in with your school’s guidance counselor. He or she can give you the final word on your individual situation. Then, you can go on to SAT greatness! After you spend that $52 burning a hole in your pocket, that is.

About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. LinkedIn


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