When to take the Test
Plan ahead throughout high school
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Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year in high school. At least half of all students take the SAT twice — in the spring of their junior year and in the fall of their senior year. Most students also improve their score the second time around.
For the SAT Subject Tests™, most students take them toward the end of their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year. In general, you should take tests such as World History, Biology E/M, Chemistry or Physics as soon as possible after completing the course in the subject. Students tend to do better on other tests like languages after at least two years of study.
Select a grade level
Create a high school plan
- Make sure you know what high school courses are required by colleges and that you´re taking the right classes starting this year.
- Get to know the levels of courses offered by your school.
Take challenging classes
You should take at least five solid academic classes every semester. These usually include classes in English (language arts), math, science, social studies, foreign languages and the arts. Try to take advantage of honors and other higher-level courses to challenge yourself.
Learn about the SAT Subject Tests
Although most students take SAT Subject Tests beginning in their junior year, there are some tests that you should take as soon as possible after taking the subjects — courses, for example: World History, Biology E/M, Chemistry and Physics.
Read and write as much as you can
Go beyond your reading and writing assignments in school. Reading books and magazines, keeping a journal or blogging can help you improve your writing skills, reading comprehension and vocabulary.
Explore the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®)
Try out college-level work, improve your abilities, and, with the right grades, maybe even receive college credit. More than 3,000 higher education institutions award credit based on AP Exam grades. Learn more about the AP Program.
Ask if the PSAT/NMSQT® is offered to 10th-graders
While it’s usually given in the 11th grade, the PSAT/NMSQT is also often offered in the 10th grade. By taking it this year, you’ll receive a score report to help you improve your performance on next year’s exams.
Think about taking the SAT Subject Tests
Are you taking any courses this year that are related to an SAT Subject Test? For some subjects, it’s best to take those exams at the end of the year, while the material is still fresh in your mind.
Keep up your participation in school activities or volunteer efforts
Extracurricular activities can help you develop time-management skills, expand your horizons and find what you are passionate about doing.
Take the PSAT/NMSQT
Sign up for the test, which is given in October. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT is the best way to get ready for the SAT.
Plan for spring tests
Get ready for the SAT
- Visit the SAT Practice section to take free practice questions and a free full-length official practice test.
- Be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day for daily practice.
- Use the access code on your PSAT/NMSQT score report to sign into My College Quickstart. With this personalized planning kit, you can prepare for the SAT using a study plan based on your PSAT/NMSQT results.
Get ready for the SAT Subject Tests
- Visit the SAT Subject Tests Practice section to get free practice questions and answer explanations for all 20 tests.
If you know which schools you'd like to receive your scores, then consider sending them in the spring of your junior year. Colleges see this as a sign of interest and may use scores to qualify you for special campus visits programs, information sessions in your hometown or for scholarships.
Take the SAT again?
If you plan on taking the SAT again, the beginning of senior year is the best time. Research shows that students who take the SAT a second time usually improve their score.
Improve your performance
- Use My SAT Online Score Report to review your strengths and areas for improvement
- Visit SAT Skills Insight to understand the skills needed to take you to the next level
- Visit the SAT Practice section and be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day @SAT Question on Twitter for daily practice.
Take SAT Subject Tests™
SAT Subject Tests measure your knowledge of a particular subject. If you continue to study the subject and take the test again, your score should reflect your increased knowledge.