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I’ve taken the SAT. Now what?

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The SAT remains the most popular college preadmission test. It is a rite of passage for college-bound high school seniors to take the test and anticipate the results in the hope of garnering scores that will elevate their college applications. For students who are driven, the SAT is not a test to be trifled with. These students actually anticipate taking the test several times prior to the college application season to get the best scores possible. The SAT is administered and managed by the College Board, and most of the information that test takers need about the test is available on their website.

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Understanding the SAT and Test Administration

Colleges and universities rely on the SAT and the alternative test, the ACT, as one measure of the college-readiness of applicants. These academic institutions have nothing to do with the test itself since the content is prepared by the Educational Testing Service, an independent nonprofit company. The College Board is the organization that decides how test materials are used and administered, including setting test schedules and releasing test results.

It is useful for SAT test takers to register for a College Board account. Students should register for an account even before attempting the first SAT because this is the central communication tool between students and the College Board.

The College Board portal allows students to register to take the SAT, make the appropriate payments and view test results as they become available. The Board also sends notifications through this portal, and test-takers have the ability to print the paperwork needed for admission to test sites on their scheduled test date.

Schedule of Test Results Release

SAT test results are viewable on the College Board website 13 days after the test was taken. Essay scores are available 15 days after the test date, and in both cases, scores are released after 5 AM Eastern time. Since tests are administered on Saturdays, count on seeing test scores the second Friday after taking the test. For students who take the SAT during the summer, results may be released five weeks from the date the test was taken. Some schools may opt for school-day test schedules, which means results are available within 23 to 26 days from the test date.

This is the schedule of test dates and score release dates for 2018 and 2019.

SAT Test AdministeredMultiple Choice Score Released on this DateEssay Score Released on this DateColleges Receive Scores on this Date
Aug 25, 2018Sept 7, 2018Sept 9, 2018Sept 19, 2018
Oct 6, 2018Oct 19, 2018Oct 21, 2018Oct 31, 2018
Nov 3, 2018Nov 16, 2018Nov 18, 2018Nov 28, 2018
Dec 1, 2018Dec 14, 2018Dec 16, 2018Dec 26, 2018
March 9, 2019March 22, 2019March 24, 2019April 3, 2019
May 4, 2019May 17, 2019May 19, 2019May 29, 2019
June 1, 2019July 10, 2019July 14, 2019July 24, 2019

Students are given the option of listing their colleges of choice when registering to take the SAT. Results will be sent by the College Board to the top four colleges of their choosing with no fees required. These colleges receive the results within 10 days from the date the scores became available online. For students who waived the essay component of the SAT, the colleges may receive the results sooner.

Fees and Fee Waivers

Each time the SAT is taken, students can have the results sent to four colleges with no fees applied. Students who want to send the SAT results to more than four colleges will have to pay $47.50 without the essay or $64.50 with the essay component. Students who add the college information nine days after the test date will also have to pay the transmission fees. Fee waivers are available to students who qualify. These waivers may also cover the costs of taking the SAT and may be used as a waiver for college application fees in colleges that participate in this program. Students can apply for fee waivers with the help of their school guidance counselor or college readiness mentor.

Many colleges require that the official SAT results be sent to them directly by the College Board. These schools will not accept copies of scores downloaded from the students College Board account or score reports included as supplemental files on high school. Students have the option of choosing the colleges that will receive their test scores before and after the test schedules.

Deciding on SAT Retakes

High school students should plan on taking the SAT during their junior or senior years to allow sufficient time to retake the tests to improve test scores. Students can take the SAT an unlimited number of times to get the highest scores possible.

The College Board has initiated a program known as Score Choice that aims to minimize the stress of taking the test and dealing with the results. In theory, signing up for Score Choice allows students to submit only their best scores to the colleges of their choosing. However, some colleges require that all SAT scores are submitted for their review.

There are colleges that allow the use of a Super Score. For students who have taken the SAT more than once, the highest score for each subject will be taken into account, regardless of when the test was taken, to yield the highest overall SAT score. This means that if a student took the SAT three times, the colleges will pick the highest score for each subject from all SAT reports provided the test date falls within the acceptable window. The final overall SAT score will be a composite of the best scores achieved for each section.

The college admission process is stressful, so it is important to tap all available resources, including guidance counselors, college readiness mentors and test preparation counselors to help with the process. Taking the SAT is only one of many steps, but it is crucial to boosting students’ chances of being included in the pool of potential freshmen at their preferred college.