SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

When Is the December SAT? Should You Take It?

Posted by Christine Sarikas | Jan 3, 2021 7:43:00 PM

SAT Logistics, SAT General Info



The December SAT is your final chance to take the SAT of the year, and for many colleges, it's the final SAT they accept before application deadlines. But is it the best SAT date for you?

There are important pros and cons to the December SAT, and we'll go over each of them in this guide. We'll also explain key December SAT dates, such as what day the test is on, when you need to register by, and when you (and the schools you apply to) will receive your scores.


When Is the December SAT?

Below is the schedule for the 2021 December SAT, along with other important dates for registering for the exam.

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline Waitlist Deadline Deadline for Changes
December 4, 2021 November 5, 2021 November 16, 2021 November 29, 2021 November 29, 2021

Source: The College Board

The date of the December SAT is December 4, 2020. Like all regular SATs, it will take place in the morning.

You should aim to register for this exam by the November 5 deadline. Taking the SAT will cost $52 (if you're not taking the optional Essay) or $68 (if you are taking the Essay). If you miss the deadline, you can still register by November 16, but you'll pay an additional $30 late registration fee.

If you miss both of those registration deadlines, you still have a chance to take the December SAT if you sign up for the SAT waitlist. Be aware, though, that getting on the waitlist does not guarantee you a spot on test day. The waitlist deadline is Monday, November 29—five days before the exam. If you're on the waitlist and a spot opens up for you, you'll need to pay a $53 waitlist fee in addition to the regular registration fee. After the waitlist deadline has passed, you won't be able to register or get on the standby list for the December SAT.

November 29 is also the deadline for SAT changes, such as changing your test center location, fixing your name on your admission ticket, etc. Some of these changes will incur a change fee of $30.


When Will You Get Your December SAT Scores?

After you take the SAT, you won't receive your scores immediately. Below are the dates you can expect to receive scores for different parts of the December SAT.

Test Date Multiple-Choice Scores Available Essay Scores Available Scores Sent to Colleges
December 4, 2021 December 17, 2021 December 20-22, 2021 January 1, 2022 (at the latest)

Source: The College Board

December SAT scores for the multiple-choice sections of the test (Math and EBRW) will be available to you online beginning December 17. On that date, you can also access your scores by phone; however, this service costs $15 per call.

If you took the essay, those scores will be available beginning between December 20 and 22 (what a great Christmas present!).

If you don't receive your scores on these dates, don't worry. Most likely, the College Board got slightly behind grading SATs and sending out scores, especially since it's happening around the holidays. If your scores are late, you can contact the College Board at 1 (866) 756-7346 for updates on score delays.

The colleges you wrote in for your four free score reports will usually get your SAT scores within a week of you receiving your scores. The College Board states all colleges will receive December SAT scores by January 1, at the latest.

Besides knowing when you'll get your SAT results, how are these dates important to you? It has to do with college application deadlines. The most common college application deadline for students applying regular decision is January 1, and the December SAT test date is cutting that deadline pretty fine. We'll discuss the implications of this in the next section.




Should You Take the December SAT? Pros and Cons

Is the December SAT the best test date for you? In this section, we analyze important pros and cons of this SAT exam date.


Pros of Taking the December SAT

  • If you're a senior, it's likely your last chance to take the SAT. If you're applying to colleges this year and need to take (or retake) the SAT, the often December SAT gives you one last shot to do this. For seniors applying regular decision, the December SAT is usually the last SAT test date schools will accept scores from, so take advantage of this if you need to squeeze in a final SAT test date. Be aware, though, that some schools may not accept December SAT results because they receive the scores too late.

    Before you sign up for the SAT, make sure to check the test result deadlines of every school you're applying to, and call the admissions office is anything is unclear. Many state that they'll accept December exam results or anything earlier, and this means that, if you take the December SAT, your scores are good for that application, even if the results are delayed until January.

  • If you're a junior, you'll have time for multiple SAT retakes. If you're a high school junior, you won't need to worry about college deadlines this year, but you should still be thinking strategically about when to take the SAT. Many people take the SAT two to three times in order to get their best score.

    To leave yourself time for retakes, you should take your first SAT sometime during your junior year, and the December SAT can be a great first test date. It'll leave you plenty of options for retakes, such as during the spring of junior year, the summer before senior year, and/or the fall of senior year.




Cons of Taking the December SAT

  • You'll miss early action/early decision deadlines. The December SAT is simply too late for early action or early decision deadlines, which are typically November 1 or 15. While some schools accept scores from the November SAT for students who are applying early action or early decision, practically no schools will do this for the December SAT. Therefore, if you want to apply early action/early decision, the December SAT isn't an option for you.

  • If you're a senior, you won't have the option of a retake. If you're a senior aiming for another shot at your SAT goal scores, the December SAT is your last opportunity. Most schools won't accept SAT scores after this date. What this means is that, if you don't meet your score goals in December, you won't have another chance to take the SAT.

    If you haven't taken the SAT yet, or you have a score goal you really want to meet, we highly recommend you sign up for one of the earlier exams in November or October, in addition to the December exam. That gives you at least one option for a retake, if needed.

  • It may conflict with studying for finals. You won't have to worry about spring AP exams conflicting with the December SAT, but, depending on your high school's academic calendar, you may have finals around or soon after this SAT. Depending on how much you plan to study for both the SAT and your finals, this could create conflicts in your schedule and make it hard for you to get in as much SAT prep as you'd like, so take that into consideration as well.


Recap: December SAT

This year's December SAT will take place on Saturday, December 4, 2021. The registration deadline is November 5, and the late registration deadline is November 16.

You'll receive your results starting December 17, and colleges will receive them by January 1. If you're applying early action or early decision this year, the December SAT will be too late, but it's a great final SAT date if you're a senior applying regular decision.

To decide if the December SAT is the best test date for you, make sure to consider key factors such as your application deadlines, how many times you plan to take the SAT, and how long you want to study before taking the SAT.


What’s Next?

Only have a month to study for the SAT? Don't worry—our extensive guide walks you through the steps you'll need to take to be able to hit your goal score within just 30 days.

Not sure what SAT score to aim for on test day? Learn what a good SAT score is for you and for the colleges you're applying to.

Wondering if you should retake the SAT? Learn the three questions you should ask yourself before deciding on an SAT retake or not.


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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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