How to Register For Your SATs
If you’re getting ready to register for the SAT, we have good news for you. Registering for the SAT is a relatively simple process. Unlike AP exams, SATs are offered throughout the year, and you can register online or through the mail. You do not need to navigate the process of registering through a specific school. The registration process is also exactly the same, no matter where you take the test.
In this post, we’ll outline who should take the SAT, when you should take it, and how to register for the SAT. Keep reading to learn all this and more.
Who Should Register for the SAT?
If you’re planning to apply to college, you will need to take either the ACT or the SAT. There are some schools that are test-optional, but there aren’t many, so your best bet is to take one of these tests. While both exams are accepted by all four-year colleges that require standardized test scores, there are a few other factors that can help you decide which to take.
Sometimes, one test is more readily available in certain geographic regions. When this is the case, it might be difficult to find convenient testing centers for the other exam. Further, some states actually require all high school states to take the ACT with or without Writing as a graduation requirement. These states include:
|ACT with Writing||ACT without Writing|
If you live in one of these states, you might skip the SAT entirely since you need to take the ACT anyway. Additionally, you may want to take the ACT over the SAT (or vice versa) if your high school offers that test for free.
Other determining factors that help you decide which test to take include how well you do under time constraints, how strong you are at data analysis and critical thinking, and how well you do with mental math and reasoning. To learn more about these factors and how they impact which standardized test is the best fit for you, check out our post ACT vs. SAT/SAT Subject Tests.
When Should You Take the SAT?
Ideally, we recommend that you take the SAT for the first time during the first semester of your junior year. This leaves plenty of time for improvement and gives you the opportunity to retake the test in the spring, if needed. It’s best to finish testing before fall of your senior year, as you’ll have many more things to worry about then!
You’ll also want to schedule your SAT registration during a period when you know you’ll be able to devote appropriate time to test prep. This means that if you’re a competitive athlete or have other seasonal commitments like school plays or clubs that take up a lot of your time, you’ll need to take these into consideration as you schedule your test.
Moreover, students should be aware of other tests and exams that may affect the amount of time they have available for studying. For example, trying to prep for the SAT or ACT during midterms or finals could be highly stressful. Additionally, Advanced Placement students may want to avoid taking the tests in May, when they’ll be busy studying for AP exams. The goal is to choose a time when you won’t be overly stressed or distracted with other tasks.
At the same time, remember that the huge majority of students take the SAT more than once, so choosing a singular test date is only the beginning. You’ll more than likely need at least two test dates that are far enough apart that you can study in between.
How to Register for the SAT
Registering For the SAT Online:
First, create a free account with the College Board if you don’t have one already.
Once you have a College Board account, log in to access online registration. You can only do this through your personal account. Parents or counselors cannot register for you.
During online SAT registration, you will need to provide your full, legal name. Be sure to enter it exactly as it appears on your government or school-issued photo ID. You will also be required to provide some personal information, like your address, birthdate, gender, and high school.
There are other, optional questions about you that include things like anticipated graduation date, cumulative GPA, and intended college major. Although this information isn’t required, it is necessary if you want colleges and scholarship organizations to be able to find you through the Student Search Service.
Finally, you will need to upload a digital photo that meets a set of very strict photo requirements. Keep in mind that successfully uploading your photo to the College Board site does not necessarily indicate that your photo meets every requirement. It only means that your photo was the correct file type and size. Be sure to carefully review the criteria to ensure that you won’t be turned away on test day.
Online SAT registration is the recommended method, as it provides easy and continuous access to your score reports, admissions ticket, and Score Choice services for sending scores to colleges, universities, and scholarship organizations.
Registering for the SAT By Mail:
Some students, however, may choose or are required to register by mail. Register by mail if you are:
- Paying by check or money order.
- Younger than 13.
- Requesting Sunday testing for the first time. (Repeat Sunday test-takers can register online or by phone. Phone registration is subject to an additional fee.)
- Unable to upload a digital photo of yourself as part of the online registration process.
- Registering through an international SAT representative.
To register by mail, you’ll need to first obtain an SAT Student Registration Booklet from your school counselor. This booklet includes a paper registration form and an addressed envelope. Fill out each section of the form carefully. Some important details include:
- Name: Be sure to fill in your full, legal name exactly as it appears on the photo ID that you’ll use on testing day.
- High School Code: Your counselor can provide you with your high school code, or you can search for it online. If you are homeschooled, enter code 970000. If you have no high school code, enter 000003.
- Test type, date, and center
- Photo: Include a photo that meets all of the photo requirements. Passport style photos are a simple way to ensure that your submitted photo is up to the task.
- Fees: For the SAT, enter the fee into field 19a. For the SAT with Essay, enter the fee into field 19b. Additional fees for SAT II subject tests can be added into fields 20a, 20b, and 20c. The total of SAT II subject test fees should be filled out in field 20d.
- Acceptance of Terms and Conditions
- Test Center Code: You can ask your counselor for your test center code, or search for it online here.
Although it’s optional, it is highly recommended that you enter an email address on your registration form. This will allow you to receive updates on any test center cancellations, and to receive your admissions ticket by email.
If you’re applying by mail and have been approved by the College Board to test with accommodations, you should include a copy of your SSD Eligibility Letter in the envelope with your SAT Registration Form. Your SSD Coordinator can print your letter for you. If you do not have your letter, include a note with your name, SSD Number, school name, and school code. Your SSD Coordinator can look up your SSD Number online, or you can call the SSD office to obtain it.
If you’re using a fee waiver, enter the identification number on your fee waiver card. Read the SAT Paper Registration Tips for more information.
Registering for the SAT Essay:
Although students who register for the SAT don’t have to complete the Essay portion of the test, many colleges do require that students submit their scores for this section. For this reason, CollegeVine advises test-takers to register for the SAT with Essay. Expect to pay $64.50 to take the SAT with Essay (registering for the SAT alone costs $49.50).
Forgot to sign up for the Essay component? You can make changes to your testing Admissions ticket on the College Board site. Moreover, you may be able to add this component on testing day, if there are sufficient materials, space, and staff at the testing center.
Wondering if your target schools require the SAT with Essay? You can see a list of schools in our post What is a Good SAT Essay Score?, and you can also double check college-specific policies on the College Board Site.
Understanding SAT Fee Waivers
The College Board understands that the cost of taking the SAT can be prohibitive for some students. For this reason, fee waivers are available to low-income students in grades 11 and 12. Along with meeting the economic standards, you must be living in the U.S. or a U.S. territory to receive a fee waiver. Additionally, U.S. citizens living outside the country may qualify for waivers.
An SAT fee waiver covers the following components:
- 2 SAT sessions or 2 SAT With Essay sessions
- 6 SAT Subject tests
- 2 Question-and-Answer Service reports
- Unlimited score reports sent to schools
- Waived application fees at select schools
- Free CSS Profile submissions at select colleges (for financial aid)
Visit the College Board website to assess your eligibility. In general, students receiving waivers meet the following qualifications:
- You’re enrolled in or eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
- Your family’s yearly income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines as determined by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
- You’re already enrolled in a federal, state, or local program supporting students from low-income families, like Upward Bound.
- Your family is currently receiving public assistance.
- You currently reside in federally subsidized housing or a foster home, or are homeless.
- You are an orphan or ward of the state.
Then download the fee waiver brochure for details on how to apply.
SAT Registration Changes and Late Fees
Have a change of plans? The good news is that you can switch the date of your SAT session if necessary. However, you will have to spend $28 to reschedule the testing date, location, or both. That’s in addition to the normal SAT fee of $49.50, or $64.50 with the Essay. Note that students who received SAT fee waivers are still responsible for paying this rescheduling fee. There’s no deadline to reschedule your SAT date, and you can even change your testing time after the original date has passed, given you didn’t show up for the exam.
If you decide to take the SAT after the registration deadline, expect to pay $30 in late fees. Additionally, you can join the waitlist after the late registration deadline has passed for $53. Note that you will only be charged this sum if you’re admitted to the testing center on the test date.
Check out our blog on changing or canceling your SAT registration for more information.
Tips to Prepare for SAT Day
Of course, registering is only one step towards SAT success. To learn more about how you can optimize your SAT performance, check out these posts:
- Links to Every Free SAT Practice Test + Other Free Resources
- 30 SAT Math Formulas You Need to Know
- The Most Helpful Khan Academy SAT Resources
- How Many SAT or ACT Practice Tests Should You Take?
- 10 Tips to Improve Your SAT Score
Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.
Wondering how your current SAT/ACT score impacts your chances of acceptance? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get access to our chancing engine, where you can see your chances of getting into your dream school, and get tips for how to improve your profile.