A Guide to Finding Your Best SAT Test Date

At this point in time, some of you may have one or two SAT experiences under your belt and others of you are in the middle of the SAT preparation process. When looking to take the SAT for the first time or for the second or third time, you must create a test-taking strategy to determine when the best date is for you to take the SAT.

When choosing a SAT date, consider asking yourself these 4 questions:

  1. When are the application deadlines for the schools I’m looking to apply to?
  2. Which test date should I take for Early Action? Early Decision? Regular Decision? Rolling Admissions?
  3. If needed, when can I retake the SAT?
  4. What other important tests will I have to take, such as subject tests, AP tests, midterms/finals, and when are they?

Application Timeline

As you start to organize your college applications, you must be aware of when your applications are due and, if they apply to you, when early action or early decision deadlines are. These dates will dictate much of when you should take the SAT. You will want to allow yourself sufficient time to study, register, take the SAT and then reflect on your test scores and potentially take the test a second time.

Each college has their own deadlines, and it’s important that you map your test taking strategy around those important dates. For example, many Ivy League schools have early January as their regular decision deadline, meaning you could take the SAT as late as October for early decision/action and as late as November’s SAT for regular decision.

Be careful not to wait until the last possible test date in order to take your SAT. If by chance you are unhappy with your score, you want to allow yourself enough time to reflect, study and retake. In addition, remember it takes three weeks to receive your SAT scores and then you must give yourself time to send them with your final application. As you can see, you do not want to procrastinate on choosing a SAT date. Choosing a SAT date should be right at the top of your to-do list with what colleges you will be applying to.

Scheduling SAT Prep

As you edge closer to your graduation date, you will find your schedule filling up with extracurricular activities, summer programs, sports, AP coursework, midterms and finals, and the list goes on. After looking at your year at large, take into consideration important college application due dates, and then plan out a solid month or so when you can dedicate at least 90 minutes, 3 times a week to SAT studying. Finding a time when you can commit to an SAT study schedule will be a direct correlation to when you actually sit down to take the SAT.

Choosing the Best SAT Test Date

The best test date will depend on you and your readiness. Your readiness is a mixture of concentrated SAT preparation, sufficient planning, and important college application deadlines. All of the SAT test date options can be overwhelming, but choosing a SAT test date will be simpler than you think. The key is to outline a plan starting your junior year or roughly a year before your first important college admission and scholarship deadlines. Starting with application due dates, go backward giving yourself sufficient time to:

  • study and take your first SAT test,
  • receive your SAT scores and reflect on them,
  • then allowing yourself time to take a second SAT test and review your scores,
  • and lastly, submit on time with your college applications.

If you’re on the fence about which standardized test you should take – the SAT or ACT, we suggest you reference this article.


To help you create a strategy to finding your best SAT test date, please review the following 2017-2020 test dates and deadlines for the SAT – for both U.S students and International students provided by The College Board.

2017–2020 U.S SAT Administration Dates (Anticipated)

2017–2020 International SAT Administration Dates (Anticipated)

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