Can You Retake the SAT — and Should You?

You can retake the SAT as many times as you want, but should you? Read this list of pros and cons before you decide whether to take the SAT again.

portrait of Erin Treder
by Erin Treder

Updated August 15, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz, and Cameren Boatner
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Can You Retake the SAT — and Should You?
Image Credit: Willie B. Thomas / DigitalVision / Getty Images


To get into many U.S. colleges, you need a strong SAT score. But what if the score you earn is lower than you hoped it'd be? In this case, you might wonder whether you can retake the SAT. Fortunately, the answer is yes!

A good SAT score can help you get into the college of your choice. It may even qualify you for scholarships. According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, students who took the SAT a second time raised their scores by an average of 46 points.

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Ready to start your journey?

Clearly, you can benefit from retaking the SAT. But should you do it?

How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?

You can retake the SAT as many times as you want. The College Board, which administers the SAT, recommends taking the SAT at least twice: once in the spring of your junior year and once in the fall of your senior year.

You're only limited in how many times you can take the SAT by the number of test dates offered throughout the year.

The College Board administers the SAT seven times a year in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. You must register for the test about one month before your chosen test date. Registering early ensures you get the date and testing location that work best for you.

The SAT retake cost is $60 — that's the same fee you'll pay whenever you register for the SAT, regardless of whether it's your first or fourth time taking it — unless you're eligible for an SAT fee waiver. A fee waiver allows you to take the test up to two times for free.

The College Board also holds SAT School Days several times in October, March, and April. On these days, you can take the SAT at your high school (if offered). Fees for an SAT School Day test vary depending on your school district.

What Are the Pros and Cons of an SAT Retake?

If you're debating retaking the SAT, the following list of pros and cons can help you determine whether it's the best decision for you.

Pro: You're Likely to Score Higher a Second Time Around

Most students score higher on SAT retakes, which makes it worthwhile to take the test more than once. According to the College Board, 2 out of 3 students who retake the test raise their scores the second time.

Con: You Have to Pay Each Time You Take the Exam

You must pay a $60 registration fee each time you register for the SAT. These fees can add up if you take the test multiple times.

Fortunately, SAT fee waivers are available for eligible students. This waiver allows you to take two free SAT tests.

Pro: Superscoring Means Colleges Will Pick Your Highest Scores

If you take the SAT more than once, you'll likely benefit from an all-around higher score. This is because you can combine your best section scores across every test you take into what's called an "SAT superscore."

So if you scored lower on Math and higher in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing on your first SAT, but the reverse on your second SAT, colleges will look at the highest score from each section.

The National Bureau of Economic Research study mentioned above found that those who retook the SAT just once saw superscore gains of 88 points.

Con: You'll Need to Keep Prepping

Each time you retake the SAT, you'll need to study for the exam. This can be difficult if you are also trying to balance other responsibilities, such as college applications, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job.

If you can't make enough time to prep, you might consider a different test date or not retaking the SAT at all.

When Is the Best Time to Retake the SAT?

The College Board recommends taking your first SAT in the spring of your junior year of high school. You should then plan to retake the test in the fall of your senior year (if desired).

If you can only take the SAT once or only want to take it once, it's best to plan for the spring of your junior year. This should give you enough time to get your SAT scores before college applications are due.

Try to wait at least 2-3 months between test dates to give yourself ample time to study, hone your weaknesses, and prepare for an SAT retake. There are also summer test dates available if your schedule gets too busy in the spring and fall.

Should You Retake the SAT?

In general, you should retake the SAT if you didn't hit your target score and have the time and money to take it again. This is important if your original SAT score wasn't high enough for admission to the college of your choice or for scholarship consideration.

However, if you are satisfied with your first SAT score, you likely won't need to retake the exam.

Remember that if the registration fee poses a barrier to you, SAT fee waivers are available for eligible students. With a waiver, you can take the SAT for free up to two times.

Frequently Asked Questions About SAT Retakes

How much does an SAT retake cost?

You must pay $60 each time you register for the SAT, regardless of how many times you take or have taken the test. Eligible students can receive SAT fee waivers. These let you take the SAT twice for free. After this, you'll need to pay $60 each time you take the SAT.

Can colleges see how many times you take the SAT?

No, there is nothing that will show a college exactly how many times you took the SAT. However, some colleges may require you to send all your test scores from each test date.

Each school has its own policy on what SAT scores are required. Check your college's website to learn more about whether it can view your complete testing history.

How does SAT superscoring work?

Superscoring combines your best SAT section scores across all the times you've taken the test. In short, a superscore shows your best SAT performance.

For example, if you did well on Math but not so well on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), you might want to focus on raising your EBRW score the second time you take the SAT. This higher EBRW score would then be combined with your first high Math score to create a superscore that's more impressive than the total scores from solely your first or second SAT.

Because of superscoring, it's a good idea to take the SAT at least twice if you can. Doing this allows you to raise your overall SAT score.

Note that not all colleges superscore the SAT. As such, be sure to confirm each school's testing policy on its admissions website.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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