Taking the SAT as an Adult

More and more, people are taking the SAT as an adult. In this post, we’ll look at the various reasons that an adult professional may want to take the SAT.

Taking the SAT as an adult to compete in the job market

There is a growing trend among employers. More and more, hiring managers like to see the past academic performance of their applicants. This includes SAT scores. if you don’t have an SAT score, there’s a chance that you could be passed over for an interview in favor some another applicant who does.

And even if you do have an SAT score, it may not hurt to retake the exam and get a higher score. Proof of a recent SAT retake can also show employers that you are ambitious and determined to land the best position you can.

Taking the SAT as an adult for a career in education

If you want to work in education, especially for a school or company that offers test prep, taking the SAT as an adult may be an absolute requirement.

Even if you are applying for a high school or college prep teaching job that doesn’t absolutely require you to take the SAT, doing so could still be beneficial. Taking the SAT, or retaking the SAT so you can experience the new, redesigned 2016 version of the test will help you understand and support your students.

In fact, if you are currently working as a high school or prep school teacher, you may want to take the SAT, and even retake it every year or two. This is a situation where taking the SAT as an adult can help you excel at your work and really help your students.


Taking the SAT as an adult to go back to school

Maybe you began working right out of high school. Or maybe you got a degree at a community college or overseas university that doesn’t require the SAT. If you find yourself needing to go back for a new degree that will advance your career, you’ll need to take the SAT as an adult.

When you apply for schools, it can also be a good idea to retake the SAT as an adult if your previous SAT scores are especially old. SAT scores do not expire per se, as the College Board keeps your score available in the years and decades after you take the test. But the exam itself has changed a lot over the years, with an overhaul to format and content just this year. These changes reflect new expectations in higher education. So a more recent score can make you more appealing to university admissions offices.

Taking the SAT as an Adult
A lot of SAT material and advice is aimed at teens. But many others are taking the SAT as an adult, for various reasons. If you are an older learner who needs to take the SAT, Magoosh has some study tips for you.

Advantages to taking the SAT as an adult

There are some definite advantages to taking the SAT when you’re not still in high school. Older learners  tend to have  longer attention spans and a greater ability to really focus on their academic goals.

If you’re in your mid-twenties or older and are now thinking of going back to school, you’re probably also much more sure about why you want to take the SAT. This sense of purpose can give you greater confidence and greater motivation as you aim for your target score.


Re-learning high school academics

The SAT–especially the newly redesigned version of the exam– is built to be a logical extension of junior and senior high school classes. The reading passages are the kind you might see in an advanced high school textbook. The writing questions focus on the types of grammar and style choices you might have made as a teen in your language arts classes. And the math skills are also very “high school”– the problems on the SAT match the content of 11th and 12th grade math textbooks.

If you’re taking the SAT as an adult, you’ve probably either been out of school for a while, or you’re in the process of transferring from a community college to a four-year university that requires the SAT. Either way, be sure to brush up on junior/senior high school content.

If it’s been years or more since you were in school at all, make sure your studies include getting reaccustomed to academics. You may read, write and do math in your adult life, but doing so “academically” doesn’t feel the same as using these skills at work or for fun. As you review SAT practice materials, don’t feel bad if you’re a little uncomfortable or “lost.” Give yourself time to reconnect to schooling, and make mental note of how academic math and language tasks are different form “real life” ones.

If you’ve been taking community college classes, your coursework still might not be a perfect match for high school coursework or SAT-style questions. Take time to look through both high school textbooks and official SAT materials, to make sure that you are ready for SAT-style study.

Understand recent changes to education

Both high school and higher education have changed a lot in recent years. There’s much more of an emphasis on mental math these days, rather than the step-based math you may probably saw in school when you last attended.

And in reading and writing, there’s much more of an emphasis on inferences, subtext, content, and style, rather than hard facts. You’ll also see more visually oriented information that you might have seen on the last academic tests you took. So be ready to incorporate graphs, charts and tables into your studies.

Be willing to get help

The idea of seeking study help, either through a tutor, a study group, or a service like Magoosh SAT, is something younger learners are more comfortable with. In your adult life, you get much more used  to being independent and doing things yourself, you way.

But seeking help and advice for the SAT makes perfect sense, no matter how old you are. And sometimes, just a little bit of advice– combined with some great study materials– can go a long way toward getting you through the SAT and furthering your career and educational goals.


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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