Can You Take The SAT After High School?

February 20, 2024
5 min read

Can you take the SAT after high school? How hard is it? Let’s answer these questions and more. 

So, you're thinking about taking the SAT after high school? It might not be a conventional path, but it's certainly possible. With the right preparation, you can join the more than two million students who take the SAT every year

Whether you're considering delaying college, going back to school, updating an outdated score, transferring to a different school, or pursuing scholarships and grad school, the SAT can still play a crucial role in your academic journey. 

In this guide, we'll take a look at the reasons to take the SAT as an adult, explore how to prepare effectively for the test and provide you with valuable tips and insights.

Reasons to Take the SAT as an Adult

As an adult, taking the SAT can help you get into better colleges, update old scores, transfer to new schools, and qualify for scholarships or graduate programs. Let’s discuss. 

Delaying College or Going Back to School

Life doesn't always follow a linear path. Some people choose to delay their college education for various reasons—perhaps to gain work experience, travel, or explore their passions. 

Others decide to return to school after taking a break. In fact, out of the 40 million people who dropped out of school in 2021, 864,824 of them re-enrolled that fall. 

Though this number may not seem significant compared to the number of people who left school, it is a positive sign of individuals recognizing the value of education and their determination to continue their academic journey. 

In both cases, taking the SAT can be a strategic move. A strong SAT score can open doors to better college options or help you skip certain introductory courses, saving time and money.

Updating an Outdated Score

You can update an old SAT score to improve your competitiveness when applying for colleges, scholarships, or graduate programs—even after graduating from high school. 

SAT scores stay valid indefinitely, meaning they don't expire. However, some colleges may not accept scores older than five years.

If it's been that long, consider retaking the test, as colleges often consider your most recent score. Some colleges waive the SAT requirement or exempt older students, so check with your chosen schools to confirm their admission criteria.

Transferring to a Different School

Life circumstances can change, and you may find yourself needing to transfer to a different college or university. If so, you’re a part of the approximately 450,000 students who transfer each year.

Many institutions require standardized test scores as part of the transfer application process. Having a recent SAT score can be advantageous in this situation, especially if you've been out of high school for a while.

Pursuing Scholarships and Grad School

If you're considering graduate school or applying for scholarships, the SAT can still be relevant. Some graduate programs and merit scholarship providers may require or consider SAT scores as part of their application criteria. A competitive SAT score can help you stand out and secure funding for your further education.

young woman working on laptop

How to Take the SAT After High School

Taking the SAT as a high school graduate can be a slightly different experience compared to when you were still in high school. Here’s how to take the SAT after high school:

1. Registering as a High School Graduate

You can register for the SAT through the College Board's website or by mail. The registration process is primarily designed for high school students, but it's manageable for adults. You'll need to provide your personal information, submit a photo of yourself, and pay the registration fee. 

Some specific tips for adult test-takers include leaving parent information blank and selecting "I am not in high school" when asked about your school. Follow a step-by-step guide for SAT registration for more assistance.

2. Choosing a Test Center

You'll take the SAT at an SAT test center, typically alongside high school students. These centers are often located in high schools, but they can also be found on community college or university campuses and other locations. 

During registration, you can search for a test center near you. It's crucial to register early to increase your chances of testing at a location close to your home since test centers tend to fill up as the registration deadline approaches.

3. Requirements for Adult Test-Takers

Though there is no age limit for the SAT, there are specific requirements that you’ll need to be aware of if you’re over 21 years old:

  • You cannot use a student ID for admission on test day; you must bring an official government-issued identification like a driver's license or passport.
  • You cannot be placed on an SAT testing waitlist if you're 21 or older. To avoid this issue, make sure to sign up early or at least on time.

4. Familiarize Yourself with the New SAT Formats

The SAT underwent a significant redesign in 2016. Some key changes to note include:

  • The scoring scale is now 400–1600 (instead of 800–2400).
  • The essay is now optional, but many colleges still require it.
  • The Reading and Writing sections have been combined into one section score.
  • Sentence-completion questions have been eliminated, and all questions are now passage-based.
  • The Math section has been adjusted, with less focus on geometry and more on algebra, as well as the addition of trigonometry and imaginary number questions. There is also a math section that does not allow a calculator.
  • Be aware that the test format may have changed since you last took it in high school.

Plus, starting in 2024, the U.S. SAT will be exclusively administered in an onscreen-only format, transitioning away from the old pencil-and-paper format.

  • The new digital SAT has two main sections: Reading and Writing, and Math.
  • The total test duration for the digital SAT is 2 hours and 14 minutes.
  • The reading and writing sections are integrated into the digital SAT, unlike the separate sections in the current paper-based SAT.
  • Within each integrated section, questions generally progress from easier to harder.

5. Embrace the Experience

Taking the SAT as an adult may feel a bit awkward initially, especially when surrounded by high school students. However, remember that this one test does not define you or your future. 

Approach the test with confidence and the knowledge that it's just one step in your educational journey. As an adult, you may find that you are more relaxed and perform better on the SAT compared to the pressure you felt in high school.

In short, signing up for and taking the SAT after high school is doable. Just remember a few things if you're an adult: get ready, keep an eye on any test changes, and go into it feeling self-assured.

Tips for Taking the SAT After High School

Here's a helpful guide with tips for taking the SAT after high school.

Refresh Your Knowledge

Since you may have been out of high school for a while, it's crucial to refresh your knowledge of the SAT topics. Review key concepts in math, reading, and writing to ensure you're well-prepared.

Rely on Updated Resources

SAT content and test formats can change over time. To keep your SAT preparation on point, just remember this: use the latest study materials and practice tests. Also, remember to familiarize yourself with the new digital SAT format to set yourself up for success.

Manage Your Time Wisely

When it comes to preparing for the SAT, most experts recommend dedicating around five to 20 hours each week for about three months. However, the exact number of hours you'll need can vary based on your personal goals and starting point.

For adults like you, managing time efficiently is key. With various commitments in your life, it's crucial to set clear study goals, allocate your time wisely, and strike a healthy balance between work, study, and personal life. This way, you can make the most of your SAT preparation while still managing your other responsibilities effectively.

Thorough Test Preparation

When it comes to SAT preparation, it's essential not to rush the process. Take the time to thoroughly review the material and practice regularly. Identify your weaknesses and work on them while further strengthening your strong areas.

If you're looking for personalized SAT tutoring, consider our one-on-one SAT tutoring program. Join the 1500+ Club today and experience significant score improvements, with an average increase of 220+ points. 

Our tutoring is tailored to your unique needs and strengths, led by the country's top 99th percentile SAT tutors. With flexible scheduling and rescheduling options to accommodate busy students and families, you can book a free SAT consultation to explore our SAT programs further.

Maintain a Balanced Perspective

While aiming for a high SAT score is important, don't let it consume your life. Maintain a balanced perspective, and remember that your worth extends far beyond a standardized test score.

Here are some tips to maintain balance while preparing for the SAT:

  • Set realistic score goals to reduce pressure
  • Create a structured study schedule with breaks
  • Engage in enjoyable activities outside of studying
  • Seek emotional support from friends and family
  • Practice mindfulness to manage stress
  • Prioritize a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and sleep
  • Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small

These strategies will help you excel in your SAT preparation while maintaining a well-rounded life.

young woman with chin rested in hands

Ensure Adequate Test Supplies

Double-check your test-day supplies the night before the exam to avoid any last-minute stress or surprises. To ensure a smooth test day, here's what you need:

  • A fully charged device with the Bluebook™ app (check device requirements)
  • A face covering, if it's required, at your test center
  • Your up-to-date admission ticket
  • A valid photo ID
  • Pencils or pens for working things out
  • An acceptable calculator for the Math section (there's one in Bluebook)
  • Epinephrine auto-injectors (like EpiPens) are allowed, but they should be in a clear bag under your desk

It's also handy to have:

  • A watch without an audible alarm (although there's a timer in Bluebook)
  • A charging cable if your device doesn't hold a charge for three hours
  • A bag or backpack
  • Some snacks or drinks for your breaks
  • A backup device

If you need to print your digital SAT admission ticket one to five days before your test, use Bluebook™ to set it up. You can then print it or email it to yourself.


Can you take the SAT after high school? Is the SAT easy? Explore our FAQ section for answers to your questions.

1. Can You Do the SAT in Grade 12?

Yes, the SAT is typically taken during high school, often in the 11th or 12th grade. However, as an adult, you can still take the SAT even if you didn't take it during high school.

2. Is the SAT Easier?

The difficulty of the SAT is subjective and can vary from person to person. It may seem easier for some adults who have gained more knowledge and skills since high school, while others may find it challenging. Success on the SAT depends on your preparation and familiarity with the test format.

3. What Was the Highest SAT Score?

The highest possible SAT score is 1600, while the lowest is 400. Your total SAT score is a combination of your Math section score and your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score, with each section being scored between 200 and 800 points.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know you can take the SAT after high school, it’s time to start prepping. Taking the SAT after high school is a smart move for adults with different goals. It can help you delay college, improve your old score, transfer to a new school, or secure scholarships and grad school opportunities. A good SAT score can make a big difference in your education and career.

To succeed, follow the steps in this guide, keep a balanced view, and prepare well. It's never too late to invest in your future. So, go for it and aim for SAT success—you can do it!

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