sat as a senior

Preparing for and taking the SAT can be a stressful time in a student’s life. To minimize stress, students are often encouraged to finalize their test scores during junior year of high school. However, we understand finalizing these scores may take longer than students have anticipated.

Luckily, students can still finalize their SAT scores during their senior year. It’s important to know waiting this late comes with risks which can be reduced by taking the exam earlier. Students should plan ahead to finalize their scores with enough time to submit them with their application.

Are SAT Scores Still Important?

Even with test-blind and test-optional policies, SAT scores are still important. High SAT scores can qualify students for full-ride and partial scholarships offered through their college of choice. This can reduce or entirely eliminate the need for student loans to cover their education.

SAT scores can give a student’s application an edge over the competition if they apply to test-optional schools. Roughly 50% of the Class of 2026 submitted test scores along with their applications to test-optional schools. While submitting test scores is optional, a strong test score can make an applicant more competitive

In the class of 2026:

  • 67% of students admitted into Boston College submitted a standardized test score.
  • 67% of students admitted into Brown University submitted a standardized test score.

Although test-optional policies are popular at several prominent universities, some top schools still require standardized test scores. Some schools requiring SAT or ACT scores include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Florida
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Georgia
  • Florida State University
  • University of Tennessee in Knoxville
  • Fisk University in Tennessee
  • University of Central Florida

Students should always review the testing policies of each school on their list prior to applying.

What are the SAT Test Dates for 2023-24?

As of September 2023, there are five SAT exam dates:


SAT Test Date Registration Deadline Deadline for Changes, Regular Cancellation, and Late Registration Scores Released
November 4, 2023 October 5, 2023 October 24, 2023 November 17, 2023
December 2, 2023 November 2, 2023 November 21, 2023 December 15, 2023
March 9, 2024 (SAT switches to digital format) February 23, 2024 February 27, 2024 March 22, 2024
May 4, 2024 April 19, 2024 April 23, 2024 May 17, 2024
June 1, 2024 May 16, 2024 May 21, 2024 June 14, 2024

SAT scores are typically released less than two weeks after the test is taken. Students have until December of their senior year to finalize their test scores, so they can be released on time. However, we recommend students finalize their test scores before then.

This can relieve the stress students are under when taking the exam, which may improve their performance. It also gives students time to prepare for their exams, so they optimize their scores on test day.

Students should aim to finalize their test scores no later than the fall of their junior year. Students in the class of 2025 who have not finalized their SAT by December 2023 should focus on preparing for the digital SAT. These students can finalize their scores in the spring or summer of 2024.

Is It Too Late to Take the SAT in Senior Year?

Students can take the SAT during senior year in high school, but we strongly encourage students to finalize their scores before then. If students must take the SAT during senior year, they should aim to finalize scores the summer between junior and senior year.

Taking the SAT over the summer allows incoming seniors to focus solely on testing. It gives more time for students to put together their college application, complete personal statements, and track upcoming deadlines in the fall of their senior year.

Waiting to take the SAT in the fall of senior year increases the number of tasks already on a senior’s plate. They must complete classwork as they prepare for and take the SAT. Students also have less time for retakes, which can increase the stress students are under during the exam.

While students can take the SAT during their senior year, students must have a clear plan to optimize their time. Enrolling in an SAT prep program can help seniors earn their dream test score the first time.

Do Colleges Look at Senior Year SAT?

Each college has its own policies regarding SAT scores. Some schools only view the highest scores while others want to see all test scores. Students should review the standardized test score policy for each of their dream schools ahead of time. This gives students an ideal range to aim for prior to taking their first exam.

When Should You Send Official SAT Scores?

Students can submit their test score any time prior to their application deadline. The College Board sends a student’s SAT scores to their selected schools within 10 days after the scores are available. We recommend students submit their scores alongside their college application, so everything is received at the same time.

Next Steps

Performing well on the SAT could increase an applicant’s acceptance rates and help students earn money for their tuition. Many universities offer merit-based scholarships based on standardized test scores which can reduce the financial burden of higher education.

Planning ahead for the SAT is pivotal to give students ample time to prepare for and retake the test, if necessary. By finalizing their test scores by the fall of junior year, students can reduce the stress tied to the exam. They also give themselves breathing room in case their scores are not as high as they need for their dream school.

While it’s beneficial to take the SAT sooner, high school seniors can test as late as December of senior year. These students must stay on top of upcoming deadlines to ensure their scores are submitted before the application closes. They must use their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and manage the academic workload alongside SAT prep.

While senior year is not too late for the SAT, we strongly recommend students plan to finalize their scores early. This earlier preparation leads to less stress, better performance, and potentially higher scores.

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