Last Updated On: June 5, 2021
As a junior or senior in high school, you will start making decisions that will determine the rest of your academic and career life. Every college admissions council requires SAT scores for entry. Since your SAT score weighs so heavily in your admissions application, it can be a scary test to take.
The good news is you can take the SAT as many times as you want. But, how many times is too many? How do colleges look at multiple SAT scores? We will discuss these questions and answers in our guide to taking the SAT.
How Many Times Are You Allowed to Take the SAT?
You can take the SAT as many times as you want over a calendar year and lifetime. We don’t recommend taking it 50 times, but it might be a good idea to take it more than once. Most students score higher the second time they take the SAT, so this might be the right move for you.
6 Reasons to Take the SAT More Than Once
1. Required Scores For Entrance
Most colleges have a minimum score required for admission. If you did not reach the minimum score the first time you took the exam, you should consider retaking it. If most of the universities on your application list have a minimum score, then you should aim to exceed this score to be guaranteed entry.
2. Average SAT Scores
Some colleges do not require a minimum test score for entry, but they take the average SAT scores of the previous year’s admitted students to get a baseline for incoming students. If you fall within the mid-range of this average and the rest of your application is strong, then you have a good chance of getting admitted.
If you fall significantly below the SAT average, then you might want to consider retaking the SAT.  Some schools might also take the average of all of your SAT scores.
If you scored poorly on the first one and much better on the second or third attempt, then your average will go up. This might help you get accepted into the schools you want.
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3. Academic Scholarships
Many scholarship opportunities require students to have a minimum SAT score and GPA. Scholarships can significantly reduce the financial strain of higher education for many students. Academic scholarships often require students to maintain a certain GPA to keep their scholarships as well.
If your SAT score is too low to qualify for specific scholarships and you need them to attend college, we recommend retaking the SAT to improve your score.
4. Athletics Scholarships
Some students receive an athletics scholarship to play for a college. While the student might be a great athlete, most colleges also require the student to meet the university's minimum requirements.
A student-athlete needs to have the same minimum SAT scores as students who are interested in academic scholarships. If the college you choose for sports has a minimum requirement for the SAT, you should take the SAT until you reach the minimum score.
5. Score Improvement
If you take your first SAT and you walk out of the exam room knowing you did not do your best, then you might want to retake it. Standardized tests can often result in varying scores for the same student. Let's say you take your first SAT and realize you did not understand how to get a good score.
If you take the SAT once, you will have a better understanding of how the test works. It might improve your score if you retake it.
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6. Competitiveness of Universities
Many colleges might not have a minimum SAT score for entrance. They might consider a student’s entire application before making a decision. Some universities might have a minimum SAT score for entry, but you still might not get accepted.
Just because a college has a minimum score for entry does not mean they accept students with that score only. If you are applying to competitive universities, then you might want to retake the SAT to improve your score as much as possible.
When is the Best Time to Take the SAT?
We recommend taking the SAT for the first time in the spring of your junior year of high school. This will give you plenty of time to consider a retake if you think it is necessary. It will also give you enough time to submit college applications.
How Many SAT Test Attempts are Too Many?
Just because you can take the SAT an unlimited number of times does not mean you should. It is essential to remember your SAT scores show colleges several different things.
We recommend not taking the SAT more than six times before applying to college.
If a university sees you have taken the SAT 15 times in the last year, they might take this as a sign that you don't take preparation seriously before test day. You should prepare the best you can before the examination day.
If your scores are slightly lower than you want them to be, then you should create a different and more thorough study plan to ensure you raise your SAT score.
It might be wise to limit your SAT attempts because it costs money every time you wish to retake the test. You should retake the SAT if you feel the need to, but you should not unnecessarily waste money on multiple exam attempts just because you can.
We recommend putting in the hours to prepare correctly, so you can avoid retaking the SAT multiple times. Feel free to check out our review of the best ST prep book on this link.
The Bottom Line
The College Board allows students to take the SAT on an unlimited amount of time. It would help if you considered your options before taking the SAT as many times as possible. The truth is, most students improve somewhat on their second attempt.
It is usually because they have a better feel for the SAT to prepare adequately. They have a better idea about what and how to study. We recommend limiting your SAT attempts to 6 before you apply to your dream college. More than 6 SAT attempts might be seen as a sign that you are not taking your test prep seriously.