Can’t make the test date you signed up for on the SAT? You're in luck! It’s possible to arrange an alternate test date for the following week, although it’s often easier to just switch to the next official test date.
In this article you'll learn what constitutes an alternate test date, the criteria for requesting one, and how to submit your request.
What Is an Alternate Test Date?
Alternate SAT testing takes place during the week following any offical Saturday SAT test date. It's a recourse for students who don't want to switch their registration to the next official test date and have an unexpected conflict during the Saturday test session.
In order to have a chance at snagging an alternate date, your request must be submitted at least ten business days in advance of the original test date. You may have to switch your test center location depending on the availability of proctors and how many other students are taking the test on the alternate date. You'll be notified of any changes by the College Board.
What Are the Criteria for Requesting an Alternate Test Date?
There are pretty strict guidelines governing the process for requesting an alternate test date. This is necessary to prevent the testing process from turning into a free-for-all because no one wants to get up early on a Saturday morning. Here are the three criteria for submitting a request:
1. You Have an Unexpected and School-Sanctioned Conflict
This includes things like finals for academic or athletic competitions. A common situation is that students have advanced through a competition and couldn’t have originally predicted that they would be competing on the date of the test.
This doesn’t include conflicts like regularly scheduled school affiliated club meetings, athletic events, or prom. It also doesn’t include anything related to outside of school activities like recreational sports or those private music lessons you take to nurture your secret passion for jazz flute.
2. You Were Registered for the Test Date in Question Before You Knew about the Conflict
This one should be a no-brainer. Hopefully, you checked your calendar before you registered and the conflict came up later!
3. You Requested No More than One Alternate Test Date This Year Prior to Your Current Request
You only get two alternate test date requests per year. It's pretty unlikely that this issue would arise, but you should be aware just in case.
If you really want to have fun with it, bring a snack that includes dates to your alternate test date.
How Do I Request an Alternate Test Date?
You, the student, cannot directly request an alternate test date. These requests must be made through a school official. Talk to your guidance counselor about your need for an alternate date. If everything checks out based on the criteria above, he or she can submit a request to the College Board. Keep in mind that your alternate date must fall within a week of the original test date, and your request must be submitted at least 10 business days before the original test date. Notify your guidance counselor of the conflict as soon as possible!
You can also switch to a different official test date if taking the test later isn’t a problem for you. This doesn’t require going through a school official. Make the switch through your online College Board account or by calling Customer Service. The fee for switching to a different official test date is $28.
A Word of Warning
If you test on an alternate date, you may have delayed access to the online version of your essay. You also won’t be able to order the Question-and-Answer Service, although you will still be able to order the less in-depth Student Answer Service.
The Question-and-Answer Service gives you full access to your test booklet along with a listing of all the question types and difficulty levels. It also gives you a breakdown of your answers and information about the scoring process for each question. This can be a very helpful tool for future studying. If you'd like to order it, stick with official test dates in May, October, or January.
Other Alternate Testing Requests
Here are some other potential reasons you might request alternate test dates and how the process works for each of them. Note that unlike regular requests for an alternate date, requests for Sunday testing and special location testing must be submitted with your original test registration!
If you can’t test on Saturday for religious reasons, you can put in a request to take the SAT on Sunday instead. This requires an official clergy letter that explains the religious observance that prevents Saturday testing. You must mail the letter on official letterhead from your religious institution along with your SAT registration no later than the registration deadline.
For Sunday testing requests, use the code 01000 on your paper registration.
Testing in a More Convenient Location
You can request to test closer to where you live if the closest available testing center is more than 75 miles away. The College Board will set up a testing center that is more convenient for you and notify you of the new location. Again, you must mail in your registration for this request along with a letter of explanation of your circumstances.
For a closer testing location request, use the code 02000 on your paper registration.
Is this your house? Submit a closer location testing request, and the College Board will set up a test center near you. Also you should probably move before the ghosts start to get too rowdy.
The Bottom Line
Most reasons for requesting an alternate date are probably not going to pass the strict criteria outlined by the College Board. Your guidance counselor will help you figure out whether it's worth submitting a request for an alternate date.
If it doesn't work out, you always have the option of switching to the next official test date.
Make sure that when you sign up for the SAT you think ahead to what’s going on that weekend and mark it on your calendar so you can avoid putting yourself in this situation!
Looking to sign up for the SAT? This article will help you figure out your ideal SAT testing date! Also check out this article if it's your first time taking the test.
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.