October 24 2019 0Comment


The SAT is a nationally administered, standardized paper-and-pencil test that helps colleges evaluate candidates.

Generally, you’ll take the SAT for the first time in the spring of your junior year, and scores typically come back in four weeks. This allows you enough time to retake the test during the summer or fall if you’re not satisfied with your score.

2019 – 2020 SAT Test Dates and Registrations

Saturday, August 24, 2019 July 26, 2019 September 6, 2019
Saturday, October 5, 2019 September 6, 2019 October 18, 2019
Saturday, November 2, 2019 October 3, 2019 November 15, 2019 Start August – September
Saturday, December 7, 2019 November 8, 2019 December 20, 2019 Start September – October
Saturday, March 14, 2020 February 14, 2020 March 27, 2020 Start December – January
Saturday, May 2, 2020 April 3, 2020 May 15, 2020 Start February – March
Saturday, June 6, 2020 May 8, 2020 July 15, 2020 Start March – April



Choosing the Best SAT Test Date for You: 5 Essential Factors

It’s critical you choose an SAT test date that’ll work well for not just anyone but you specifically. Below are five major factors you’ll want to consider before committing to a test date.


#1: When Are Your College Application Deadlines?

By far the most important factors are your college application deadlines. In the US, most deadlines fall around January 1 (for regular decision) and November 1 or 15 (for early action/early decision).

The College Board sends SAT scores to schools (for your four free score reports) beginning one day before online score release, or approximately three to five weeks after the exam. However, not all schools process scores straight away; in fact, some might take a week or so to report scores. As a result, you might have to wait at most around six weeks after your test date for your schools to officially process your SAT scores.

And this doesn’t even include the extra time needed to process orders for additional score reports (if you have more than four schools you want to send scores to). Ordering these reports will add at least another week or two once scores are released.

Therefore, as a rule, don’t take the SAT less than five or six weeks before your college apps are due. If you’ll be ordering additional score reports after your scores come out, stick with test dates more than seven or eight weeks before your deadlines.

Remember that if your schools don’t receive or process your SAT scores in time, your application could get disqualified! So plan accordingly.


#2: Are You Applying for SAT Scholarships?

Another factor is SAT scholarships. Generally, school-based SAT scholarships will use the same deadlines as college applications. If you’re not sure when your SAT scores are due, contact your schools directly to ask whether your scores should arrive earlier than or with your application.


#3: How Many Times Will You Take the SAT?

You should also consider whether you might want to retake the SAT if you’re not getting the scores you need for college.

We typically recommend taking the SAT at least twice, possibly three times, depending on your score goals. Here’s our suggested SAT schedule:

  • Take the SAT in the fall of your junior year
  • Take the SAT a second time in the spring of your junior year
  • Take the SAT a final time in the late summer/early fall of your senior year

If you took your first SAT in the spring of your junior year instead of in the fall, you still have plenty of opportunities to take the SAT once or twice more. You could, for example, take the SAT a second time in June or August and a third time in October or November.

That said, avoid registering for back-to-back SAT test dates, especially in the fall of your senior year. Squeezing in too many SATs gives you barely any time to study and probably won’t raise your score by any noticeable margin.

Furthermore, trying to balance so much prep during the school year—and as you’re applying to college, no less!—is an incredibly stressful endeavor. So spread out your tests as best you can.




#4: How Much Study Time Will You Need?

Before you register for the SAT, decide how much time you’ll need to dedicate to studying. We normally recommend setting aside three to six months for SAT prep. This amount of time allows you to space out your study sessions so that you’re studying consistently without burning yourself out.

More importantly, though, you’ll want a sufficient number of study hours. The number of hours you’ll have to spend studying depends on the number of points you’d like to improve your baseline SAT score by. (A baseline score is the score you get on an official SAT practice test before you begin any SAT prep.)

Below are the (approximate) number of study hours required to make the following total point improvements on the SAT:

  • 0-30 point improvement: 10 hours
  • 30-70 point improvement: 20 hours
  • 70-130 point improvement: 40 hours
  • 130-200 point improvement: 80 hours
  • 200-330 point improvement: 150 hours+

As you can see, the bigger the point increase you want, the more hours you’ll have to study.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a ton of time to devote entirely to SAT prep. At a minimum, try to clock in at least 10 hours of prep.

If you only have a month or so before test day, you can still make large score increases—so long as you’re willing to put in the effort. You can also use our last-minute SAT tips and strategies to help you get the score you want.


#5: Will You Have Any Obligations or Conflicts?

Finally, consider your own obligations. Is there anything you can’t reschedule that’ll be taking place on a certain test date? Do you have any ongoing commitments (school or otherwise) that could prevent you from being able to focus on your SAT prep? Obligations can be anything, from school plays and AP tests to sports tournaments and family vacations.

Before you choose a test date, make sure that you’re keenly aware of your schedule. I suggest using a planner to take note of any big chunks of time during which you’ll be too busy to study for the SAT.

Ultimately, if a certain test date feels overwhelming, choose another one for which you’ll have far fewer obligations in the period leading up to it.



Quick Guide: What’s the Best SAT Test Date for Juniors? For Seniors? For Early Action?

In reality, the “best” SAT test date varies for each student; however, sometimes you just want to know what a good test date is, generally speaking. Here, we give you a brief look at the best SAT test dates for four common scenarios.


Scenario 1: You’re a Junior

Best Dates

  • For 1st SAT: October, November, December
  • For 2nd SAT: March, May, June

You should always take your first SAT as a junior, ideally in the fall. The October and November test dates offer lots of flexibility and plenty of time to study and prepare for round two should you want to take the SAT again.

In the spring, try to take the SAT in March or May—latest June. These dates ensure you’ll have the entire summer to evaluate your scores, finalize your list of colleges, and decide whether you’d like to take the test again in August or autumn.


Scenario 2: You’re a Senior

Best Dates: August, October, November
Riskier Dates: December

As a senior, you have up to four possible SAT test dates (for regular decision deadlines): August, October, November, and December.

As with all college prep, the earlier the better! Try to take the SAT in August, October, or November. These three test dates should have little trouble getting your scores to colleges in time, assuming your earliest deadline is somewhere around January 1.

Although you can opt for the December test date, too, I would only do so if your deadlines are January 10 or later. December scores aren’t usually released until late December, so January 1 might be playing it a little too close for some colleges. Check with your schools directly to verify whether they’ll accept SAT scores from the December test date before you register for it.

If your regular decision deadline happens to be especially early, like the University of California’s November 30 deadline, opt for the August or October test dates instead.


Scenario 3: You’re Applying Early Action/Early Decision

Best Dates: June, August
Riskier Dates: October

Most early action deadlines are November 1 or 15. A June or August test date (before your senior year) is an excellent choice since scores from either test date should definitely get to your schools in time. These dates also give you the fall to focus entirely on your college applications instead of on SAT prep.

The October deadline is a bit riskier, though, as its scores aren’t normally released until the end of October. So if your deadline is November 1, October probably won’t work. If your deadlines are November 15 or later, however, October should be fine.


Scenario 4: Your College Applications Aren’t Due Until February or Later

Many schools have later-than-normal deadlines in February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and even September. So which SAT test dates will work for these late decision schools?

Below are the latest SAT test dates you can choose depending on your college application deadline. The latest recommended dates are pretty much guaranteed to get your SAT scores to schools in time, whereas the riskier dates might not get your scores in before the deadlines.

College App Deadline
Latest Recommended SAT Test Date
Riskier SAT Test Date

Additional Resources for Info on SAT Test Dates

Need extra assistance with choosing SAT test dates? Our top resources below will help you pinpoint the best SAT dates for you:

  • When Should You Take the SAT or ACT? Best Test Dates: Our popular guide to SAT/ACT test dates zeroes in on the four most important factors you’ll need to consider when selecting a test date.
  • SAT/ACT Test Dates & Study Plan for Sophomores and Juniors: Seeking advice on when to take the SAT or ACT your sophomore or junior year? This guide walks you through a typical SAT/ACT test-taking schedule and offers targeted tips for honing your weaknesses.
  • 5 Step SAT/ACT Test Dates & Study Plan for Summer Before Senior Year: This step-by-step guide explains how to structure a personalized SAT/ACT study plan before your senior year.
  • The Best SAT and ACT Test Dates for Senior Fall: Looking for a guide geared specifically toward seniors? Here, we lay out the SAT/ACT test dates in autumn and provide you with tips on how to choose the best date for you.
  • Can I Get an Alternate SAT Test Date?: If there’s a conflict with your current SAT test date, you might be able to schedule an alternate test date for the following week. Read our guide to learn everything you can do to ensure your request is successful.
  • SAT and ACT Test Date Lists: For more general SAT/ACT test date info, check out our year-by-year guides:
    • SAT Test Dates 2019
    • SAT Subject Test Dates 2019
    • ACT Test Dates Full Guide to Choosing (2019, 2020)


The Final Word: What to Know About SAT Test Dates

Although exact SAT test dates change each testing year, the exam will always be administered a total of seven times across the following months (in the US):

  • August (This test date has replaced the January one)
  • October
  • November
  • December
  • March
  • May
  • June

For the most part, international test dates are similar to US ones. Here are the only major differences:

  • There is no August test date outside the US
  • As of 2018, the international November and June test dates will only offer SAT Subject Tests—no regular SAT

To choose a test date that’s right for you, consider the following four factors:

  • When your college application and scholarship deadlines are
  • How many times you want to take the SAT
  • How much time you’re willing to study
  • Whether you’ll have any obligations that might prevent you from taking the SAT on a certain date

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you now have a clearer and more confident sense as to which SAT test dates will work for you!




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