For many students, the SAT is one of the biggest stressors to come up during high school. Few anticipate, though, that it may still be a concern during college. Occasionally, however, you might find that you need new SAT scores after high school.
So can you take the SAT in college? Yes, you absolutely can. There is no regulation that forbids it. In fact, the College Board's website specifically discusses non-high school testers.
This article will discuss why you might need to take the test as a college student and cover some solid information about that process—and what makes it both unique and challenging.
2 Common Reasons to Take the SAT in College
The SAT isn't a ton of fun. Why would you subject yourself to it when you're already in college? Well, actually, there are a few reasons you may need to take the SAT in college.
Applying for Jobs or Scholarships
More and more job applications are requiring test scores, and there are scholarships out there for people who score within a certain range. Usually, high school scores serve for these purposes, but not everyone takes the test in high school. Thus, a need to take the test later arises.
It's important to realize that every company and every organization is different. You must adhere to the policies of these individual companies and organizations if you want them to take you seriously. Do your research, and, if you can't find the answer on the internet, make sure you call or email for clarification.
The hope is that you'll get a message like this the moment a company see your scores.
The most common reason that you may need to take the SAT in college is if you are seeking to transfer schools.
It's immensely important for anyone thinking about transferring to do research into the specific requirements of the school in question. A good place to start would be to read our complete guide to how test scores play into a transfer.
Many schools require test scores from potential transfers. Some have different requirements if you transfer in your first or second year versus if you transfer later on. This is very specific to the school.
Some schools recommend including test scores under certain circumstances, but not others—this is often related to how soon after high school you began your college career. Some schools ask for test scores but permit exceptions for those who never took the SAT in high school or for whom taking the SAT now would be unduly difficult.
Still other schools are test-optional or test-blind. In other words, they don't require scores. At test-optional schools, you can send scores if you wish, and at test-blind schools, your scores will not be considered under any circumstance. This applies to both transfer students and applicants going into college for the first time. It may be worthwhile to read our complete guide on the topic.
All this goes to show that colleges are all a little bit different. Know the policy of the school you're applying to.
The first place to check for this information is on the college's website. Many have a special page covering transfers, which you can find through the admissions or application page.
If you can't find the specifics you're looking for on the website, though, there's nothing wrong with emailing a contact person at the school for clarification. Ideally, you should write to someone in the admissions department (as listed on the college's website). Failing that, though, give the college a call—a phone number for their offices should definitely be listed.
Yes, that's right: make a real, old-fashioned phone call.
Logistics of Taking the SAT in College
There are quite a few hoops to jump through when it comes to taking the test, regardless of whether you're in high school or college. It's important to know what you're getting into.
How to Register
You can register online or by mail. This will involve answering a number of questions about basic personal information, courses taken, etc., as well as submitting a photograph of yourself. It's a good idea to get familiar with the process before you dive right into it.
Where You Can Take It
You'll be taking the SAT at one of the same test centers as all the local high school students. When you register online, you can easily search for and select the most convenient option. You may have some options; you may be able to choose a location such as a local university or community college campus. Regardless, you will be taking the test with high school students.
Choose the test center where you'll feel most comfortable.
What's Different Taking It Now
Logistically, the big differences are the more stringent requirements when it comes to identification and the difficulty of getting on the waitlist. You should also note that this is age-based; college students younger than 21 don't need to sweat these differences.
If you're 21 years old (or older), a student ID is unacceptable identification on test day. You must bring official, government-issued identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
Also, if you're 21 years old (or older), you simply cannot be placed on the waitlist. It's impossible, by the College Board's decree. The moral of the story, then, is to register on time and avoid the issue altogether.
Additionally, you should be aware that the SAT recently underwent a complete overhaul. If you're in college now, you likely took the SAT on the 2400-scale (if you did take it). We're now on a 1600-scale. The essay is technically optional, though advisable in most cases.
Some content has been redesigned, abandoned, or added. Sentence completion questions, asking you to define vocab with minimal or no context, are gone. Trigonometry, on the other hand, now makes an appearance. The essay no longer asks you to argue an opinion but to analyze a passage. In short, it's not quite the test you may remember.
Advice for Testers in College
Remember that the SAT tests high school topics, not college topics. Don't be fooled into thinking that means it's very basic or somehow below you; it doesn't necessarily make matters easier.
There are likely to be a few fundamental concepts that you've gotten rusty on. This may be especially true depending on your major. If you haven't taken any math classes in college, you may have forgotten certain exponent rules or whether 47 is a prime number.
In other words, even though the topics may not be college-level, per se, you still need to prepare.
C'mon, it won't be that miserable.
3 Key Tips for SAT Prep in College
Once again, I cannot stress enough the importance of taking some time to prepare for this test.
#1: Familiarize Yourself With the SAT's Specific Style
Oddly enough, the SAT tends to reward pretty literal thinking on reading and writing (don't stray far from what the text actually says), while it rewards fairly creative thinking on math (be prepared to move expressions around into novel configurations).
#2: Dust Off Rusty Topics
Some of the material on the SAT may feel ancient and unfamiliar. This will not do; you've got to get handy with this content. There are many helpful resources out there, but don't forget that practice makes perfect. From full-length practice tests to individual practice problems, dive into experiencing the content firsthand.
#3: Consider Your Schedule and Your Needs
For many people, college is a very busy season of life. From grueling classes, to vibrant social events, to extracurricular commitments, things tend to move at a fast pace.
Nonetheless, you still need to prepare before taking the SAT. So, start your preparation program well ahead of the test date. Consult your calendar (and syllabi) before committing to a specific test date. You definitely don't want to wind up taking the SAT the weekend before/after a major exam or project.
You don't want to overbook yourself.
In this guide, we've covered some basics regarding why to take the SAT in college and how to get that ball rolling.
While there are a few definite differences versus taking the test in high school, the fundamentals are basically the same.
Logistically, the process is almost identical. You'll be at the same sort of test center, and you'll register the same way. All the same rules and regulations apply, only you will need official government-issued identification and you can't get on the waiting list (depending on your age).
You will still need to prepare, just like any high school student. Don't dismiss this step—it's crucial. In fact, give yourself extra time, considering how busy college can get.
The big question is how to prepare for the test. Remember that it's not quite like it was when you were in high school, and take a peek at our complete guide to studying for the test (revisions and all).
If you're shooting for a perfect score, there are a few tips that can really boost your chances—including the simple advice of viewing all questions as analytical.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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Vero is a firsthand expert at standardized testing and the college application process. Though neither parent had graduated high school, and test prep was out of the question, she scored in the 99th percentile on both the SAT and ACT, taking each test only once. She attended Dartmouth, graduating as salutatorian of 2013. She later worked as a professional tutor. She has a great passion for the arts, especially theater.