At the beginning of the school year, you may be focusing on your classes and not thinking much about college applications or the SAT. However, October can be a great time to take the SAT. For juniors, it's a way to get in that first SAT with plenty of time for retakes, and for seniors, it gives you a final chance to get a great SAT score before college application deadlines.
But is the SAT October test date the right test date for you? In this article, we explain everything you need to know about the October SAT, including when you need to register by and when you (and colleges) will receive your scores. We also walk you through every question you should ask yourself before deciding on the October SAT test date.
When Is the October SAT?
Below is the schedule for the 2020 October SAT, along with all of the critical dates you should know for registration.
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline||Waitlist Deadline||Deadline for Changes|
|October 3, 2020||September 4, 2020||September 23, 2020||September 28, 2020||September 28, 2020|
Source: The College Board
The October SAT will be on October 3, 2020. Like all regular SATs, it will take place in the morning.
To register for the SAT, you must pay an SAT registration fee of either $64.50 (with the optional Essay) or $49.50 (without the Essay). The registration deadline for the October SAT is September 6, or about a month before the exam.
If you miss the October SAT registration deadline, you can still register for the exam by September 23. However, you'll need to pay a late registration fee of $30 on top of the regular SAT registration fee.
If you miss both the regular registration deadline and the late registration deadline, it may still be possible for you to take the October SAT by signing up for the SAT waitlist. Note that this does not guarantee you a spot on test day.
The waitlist deadline is Monday, September 28—just five days before test day. If you are admitted on test day, you must pay a $53 waitlist fee. After the waitlist deadline has passed, you will not be able to register or get on the standby list for the October SAT.
September 28 is also the deadline for making changes to your SAT, such as changing your test center location, the name on your admission ticket, etc. Some of these changes will incur a $30 change fee.
When Will You Get Your October SAT Scores?
After you've taken the SAT, you won't receive your scores immediately. Below are the dates you can expect to receive scores for different parts of the October SAT.
|Test Date||Multiple-Choice Scores Available||Essay Scores Available||Scores Sent to Colleges|
|October 3, 2020||October 16, 2020||October 19-21 2020||October 31, 2020 (at the latest)|
Source: The College Board
October SAT scores for the multiple-choice sections (Math and EBRW) will be available to you online beginning October 16. At that time, you may 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 October 19 and 21.
If you don't receive your scores on these dates, don't panic! Most likely, the College Board just got a bit behind grading SATs and sending out scores. 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 typically receive your SAT scores within a week of you receiving your scores. The College Board states all colleges will have received October SAT scores by October 31, at the latest.
So what do these dates mean for you? The most common college application deadline for students applying regular decision is January 1, and the October SAT test date gives you plenty of time for your scores to be received by then.
However, if you're applying early action or early decision, the application deadline will often be November 1 or 15. Based on when colleges receive your scores, this means you're likely cutting it too close for comfort or missing the deadline entirely for those schools. We don't recommend taking the October SAT if your college deadlines are early/mid-November unless the school specifically states that they'll accept October SAT results, regardless of when they actually receive your scores.
Should You Take the October SAT? Pros and Cons
Is the October SAT the right test date for you? In this section, we go over the major pros and cons of this exam date.
Pros of Taking the October SAT
If you're a senior, your scores will arrive with plenty of time for regular decision deadlines. If you take the October SAT, your scores will definitely arrive in time for the January 1 deadline most colleges have for regular decision admission.
If you take the November or December SAT, schools may still get your scores before application deadlines, but you'll be cutting it close, and the last thing you need is more stress associated with the SAT. Taking the exam in October eliminates any worry about missing regular decision deadlines.
If you're a junior, it allows you to take the SAT with plenty of time for retakes. As a junior, you don't need to worry about college deadlines this year, but you still need to be thinking strategically about when to take the SAT. Many people end up taking the SAT two or three times in order to get their best score, and you'll want to be sure to give yourself enough time to take the SAT multiple times, with plenty of time to study in between test dates.
The October test date is a great first date for taking the SAT (as a junior) because it gives you lots of time to take the SAT again, such as during the spring of your junior year, the summer before senior year, and/or the fall of your junior year.
You won't have conflicts with AP exams or finals. The October SAT takes place during the beginning of the school year, before things really start gearing up for most classes. By taking your SAT in the fall, you won't have to worry about trying to balance studying for the SAT with preparing for your AP exams or class finals. You can also do a lot of your studying for the SAT over the summer. While reading an SAT prep book may not be on your summer bucket list, doing your SAT preparation without the distraction of classes can allow you to really focus on your SAT prep and give you a great chance at earning a high SAT score.
Cons of Taking the October SAT
- You'll miss many early action/early decision deadlines. While the October SAT is great for regular decision deadlines, most early action and early decision deadlines are sometime in November. Since the College Board can only guarantee that schools will receive your scores by October 31, this is cutting it really close for some of these schools.
Generally, we recommend taking the SAT at least four weeks (ideally more) before your earliest deadline just to make sure schools get your scores on time. This means that, even if your deadlines aren't until mid/late November, there's still the possibility a delay could cause your scores to be late. Therefore, we don't recommend the October SAT for early action or early decision applicants. The June test date is a much safer bet. The only exception is if the school explicitly states that they accept scores from the October (or November, etc.) SAT test date. This means that, even if there is a delay with your scores, they'll still be considered as part of your application.
- It may be difficult to balance the new school year with SAT prep. Although you won't have to worry about finals or AP exams in the fall, you may still find it difficult to make time for your SAT prep. Starting a new school year and taking new classes can take up a lot of your attention and focus, and it may not leave enough time to prepare for the SAT.
Additionally, if you don't think you'll be able to stick to an SAT study plan over the summer, you may find yourself not prepared enough to take the October SAT and do well on it. In these cases, it's better to take an SAT test date later in the school year, either the winter or spring.
October SAT Recap
This year's October SAT is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2020. The registration deadline is September 4, and the late registration deadline is September 23.
The College Board will release the scores to test takers starting October 16 and to colleges by October 31. This is fine for regular decision college deadlines, but it may be too late if you're applying early action or early decision this year.
To decide if the October SAT is the right exam for you, be sure to consider important factors such as application deadlines, how many times you plan to take the SAT, and how much you think you'll be able to prepare for the SAT over the summer and at the start of the school year.
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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.