Can You Take the SAT After High School?

Is it possible to take the SAT after high school
April 26, 2024
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

The SAT comprises everything a student should know before attending college. The SAT is the first stop for anyone looking to go back to school.

A good SAT score can boost your college application and help you stand out against other candidates. When you take the SAT you can also learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie, helping you forge a new career path. 

For people looking to start a new career or wanting to attend college after a gap year, you may be wondering if you can take the SAT after high school. The answer is a resounding yes.  It is also easy to do if you’re looking to take the SAT after high school. Register with the College Board’s website when you’re ready for the exam and start studying! 

Reasons to Take the SAT as an Adult

The good news in this is that, yes, you can take the SAT after high school. The most common demographic looking to retake the SAT after high school is people under twenty-five. However, there are several reasons that someone older than 25 would want to retake the SAT.

1. Delaying College or Going Back to School

Whether you are a high school graduate who took a gap year or an adult looking to go back to school, you may want to take the SAT before applying. If you’re looking to get into college and have not taken the SAT yet, now would be a good time to do so. However, you may be able to waive the test depending on your school’s requirements. 

2. Updating an Outdated Score

Generally speaking, your SAT score is good for five years. If it’s been five years and you are applying to school or a program that requires your scores, now is a good time to retake the test. Colleges that you apply to will see this on your application. Even though test scores never truly expire, your old score may be underselling you.

More and more colleges are waiving the SAT altogether as part of their applications. Other colleges do not require that students over the age of 25 take the exam either. Make sure you talk to application advisors or check the websites of your choice schools to know if you need to retake the SAT or not. 

3. Transferring to a Different School

Transferring schools can be an excellent opportunity for college students. In some cases, it may be advantageous to retake the SAT for your transfer application to achieve a higher score.

In a situation where transferring would be advantageous to the student, it may be necessary to achieve a higher score so that whatever school you’re interested in will see you as a better candidate. Your core classes from your first college could help prepare to an extent too, although don’t use it as a substitute for actual test prep. 

4. Scholarships and Grad School

An updated SAT score may be a good way to earn scholarships that were out of reach for you with your lower score. Scholarships are constantly being created and have all sorts of criteria, Many focus on academic rigor and testing scores.

Retaking the SAT could put you at an advantage in earning one, especially if you’re looking to go into grad school. A higher SAT score may also look good on your application for grad school if you are planning on going. 

How to Take the SAT After High School

The first step to sign up for the SAT is to go to the College Board registration page and register, completing all the required information. The College Board releases potential testing dates once every month or two, with a specific date set aside for each test version. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to study when scheduling. The deadline before each testing date comes about a month before. 

Once you pick a date, the next step is to look for a location. Usually, this will be a local school or university. Keep in mind that there is a testing fee; however, people with lower income brackets may waive the fee. When your test date comes along, make sure to show up on time with the proper identification. You do not want to miss your testing date, which may cost you money.

Tips for Taking the SAT After High School

When you need tips for taking the SAT, College Board and its affiliates offer free resources and tips. If you’re looking for more general ideas on how to prepare, take into account what your priorities are and what your academic strengths and weaknesses are.  

1. Refresh Your Knowledge

Be sure to prepare for the test with up-to-date resources and test information, as the test may cover subjects you do not know or learned back in high school. The SAT covers a vast valley of topics, such as advanced math, and reading passages that may be easier with historical knowledge and context. Refresh yourself on what you know. 

2. Use Updated Resources

 If you decide to retake the test, prepare with modern testing guides. The SAT changes the questions every year, and the type of material covered has changed over time. The current yearly guides and previous tests available from College Board make for excellent study guides. 

3. Use Your Time Wisely

When it comes to taking the SAT, balance is the key. You want to spend at least a month or two dedicating time aside to studying. Keep studying right up until the test, since you want the knowledge to be fresh in your mind. However, you do not want to overwork yourself for fear of burnout. When you take the test, make sure to get plenty of rest the night before and be on time. What matters most is the frame of mind that you’re in is the best it can be. 

4. Work Thoroughly on the Test

The SAT consists of two major sections: one for reading and English and one for math. Both are weighted equally and take the same amount of time. Prioritize your strengths and weaknesses with this in mind. 

For the math section, the hardest questions come further along in the test. That being said, all questions are weighted equally and are multiple choice. If you don’t understand a question it’s okay to skip it, but also to guess and come back to it. Save your guesses for the end of the test in case you have time to work on the questions that are giving you trouble. 

For the reading section, don’t be afraid to write on the test. It’s okay to annotate, but don’t waste too much time by rewriting or marking up the whole passage. Review the questions and then read to keep an eye out for what to look for in the passage, but don’t let this trip you up. The multiple choice questions may end up having distractor choices that the first section of the readings lead towards, but may not be what the questions are truly looking for. 

5. Don’t Take the Test Too Seriously

Stressing out for the test is the last thing you want to do. Go into it with a cool head and a clear mind to do the best you can. You can always retake the test if you need to. Stressing out will only make the challenging problems on the test worse.

6. Make Sure You Have All Your Supplies

The things you’ll need for the test are pencils, your approved calculator, and potentially extra batteries. Sharpen those pencils beforehand and keep them in a safe place so that they don’t break. You may want to test them out, so they don’t break mid-test. You’ll need your ID and admission pass to be allowed in. Be there on time. 

Think you're ready to take the SAT? Take our free interactive SAT Readiness Quiz to find out if you're prepared for the test!

FAQs: Taking the SAT After High School

1. Is There an SAT Age Limit?

There is no age limit for the SAT. Anyone can take it at any time. However, colleges may waive the requirement for people over certain ages. More and more universities are also not requiring the test score as part of their application. Expect to have to take the test if you are under twenty five, at the very least. You may also want to take the test as a benchmark of your knowledge. 

2. Can Someone Take the Test Younger Than the Average Age?

Students in lower grades are not recommended to take the SAT before they are ready, as the test includes knowledge they may learn as late as their junior and senior years of high school.

For students in their sophomore year or even younger, the PSAT would be a better choice for them to take, as not only can it help the student find future scholarships, it functions practically as an SAT practice test. The SAT requires a fee to take, while many high schools offer the PSAT annually for free. 

3. Can You Retake the Sat After High School?

Yes, you can retake the SAT after high school. Students can take the SAT as many times as they like. Keep in mind that many colleges have deadlines for their applications, so make sure you have your score before then. 

4. Can You Take the SAT Online?

The SAT cannot be taken online and must be taken only in person with pen and paper. However, this may change in the future. There are plans for the SAT to go entirely online in 2024 and beyond. 

5. Where Can I Prepare for the SAT?

There are plenty of online test prep and videos dedicated to studying for the SAT. Khan Academy, College Board’s sponsored service, offers both in person tutoring and online resources. Other sources such as textbooks and older test versions can be purchased or viewed where available. 

Final Thoughts

The SAT is a standardized way for colleges to view your potential and compare your application against other candidates. If you don’t take the test during the traditional window between junior and senior year of high school, you can still take the test—many people who take a gap year before college take the SAT closer to when they apply to school. Depending on your situation, it might be a good idea for those focusing on grades to wait. In any case, the SAT is available for anyone who needs to take it.

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