Can You Take the SAT at Any Age?

The SAT has been an integral part of the American high school experience for nearly 100 years. But, does that mean that only high school students are eligible to participate in the exam? Is it possible for students younger or older to take the test and see how they fare as well?

Read on to learn all about how age factors into the SAT exam and gain useful tips for studying and performing well on the test at any age.

Is There an SAT Age Limit?

There is no upper or lower age limit for the SAT. Whether you’re still in high school or you’ve already graduated, you can sign up to take the test whenever you feel ready. Even students who have not yet reached high school can choose to take the exam. However, students younger than 13 years old will need to have a parent or guardian complete and submit an Account Creation Consent form. Then, they will be able to create an account with the College Board and register for the SAT.

The average age range for students taking the SAT is 17 to 19 years old. Most students elect to sit for the exam the first time during their junior year of high school. Although not all students choose to test multiple times, many will then sign up for the exam again before or during their senior year. You can take the test as many times as you want, but it is often recommended that students complete the SAT at least twice before graduating high school.

How Is the SAT Different After High School?

High school students registering for the SAT will have to present a valid photo ID at the exam center on test day. This ID can be a school ID as long as it has a current photo. Those over the age of 21 who wish to take the exam will also be required to bring a photo ID with them on test day, but their ID must be government-issued. It cannot be a school ID. Examples of viable options include a driver’s license or passport.

Adults over 25 years old should note that colleges may not require them to submit SAT scores when applying. Many colleges have implemented test-optional policies in recent years to increase accessibility for students, but even colleges that still require prospective students to submit scores may choose to waive the requirement for older adults. 

Aside from these small changes, taking the SAT should be a similar experience for students at any age as long as they remember to prepare for the test in advance.

Why Take the SAT Before or After High School?

Some students may choose to take the SAT before high school if they need to submit their score for admission to a college, educational program, or scholarship. It’s worth noting, however, that this is typically not recommended, as some of the knowledge required to pass the exam will not be taught until junior year of high school at the earliest. 

In the meantime, younger students can prepare for the SAT by taking the PSAT, which is essentially a practice test for the SAT. Scoring well on the PSAT can set you up to earn scholarships in the future, such as the famous National Merit Scholarship.

Adults may elect to take the SAT after high school for a number of reasons. Some students may have taken a few years off after high school to work, volunteer, or travel instead of immediately going to college. Then, after their gap years, they decided to enroll in secondary education. Depending on where you apply and how long it has been since your last SAT test, you may have to take the test again for your scores to be eligible. Although the College Board will store your high school SAT score indefinitely, some colleges require more current SAT scores that are no more than 3 to 5 years old.

Other students may need to improve upon their high school score in order to transfer schools or gain admission to their college of choice. A competitive SAT score at your chosen college should be in the 75th percentile or above compared to the average scores of admitted students. As we mentioned, many schools are now test-optional, but adding an impressive SAT score to your application may increase your chances of admission, especially when applying to competitive schools or programs.

Believe it or not, some job applications may even require you to submit your SAT score. Though it is somewhat rare, it can happen. Adults seeking a higher position or heading into a new career field might consider retaking the test and improving their SAT scores to make their job applications more competitive. Those interested in working at banks and consulting firms in particular should pay special attention to their SAT scores.

Tips for Adult SAT Prep

Let’s go over a few tips to help adults prepare to take the SAT after high school. These tips can be useful for those who have and those who have not taken the SAT before.

Study the Format of the SAT

If you have experience with the SAT, you may be tempted to think you know what to expect on test day. But, the SAT has undergone a lot of important changes over the past few years. Not only will the test officially switch to a digital-only format starting in Spring 2024, but the format and scoring system were also changed in March 2016. We recommend all students read up on the most recent changes and take all the available practice tests online while preparing.

Create a Study Plan

As you begin studying for the SAT, you should set a target score for yourself. Depending on your reason for taking the test, your score may be different. If you are looking to improve upon your last score in order to increase your chances of acceptance at a school or entering a new career, you can decide how much you need to study based on how much you want your score to increase. For more information, check out Dr. Shaan Patel’s free webinar on the 10 secrets to raising your SAT scores or our guide to creating a full SAT study plan.

If you are taking the exam for the first time, we recommend starting your study routine several months in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to learn the material and get comfortable with the format of the test, especially the time limit. Try to treat practice tests as if they were the real exam to chase away any test anxiety.

Enroll in an SAT Prep Course

Adult students who have been out of high school for some time may find that they have no idea where to start when it comes to studying for the SAT. That’s where online SAT prep courses come in handy! Prep Expert offers a range of SAT prep courses designed to teach valuable test-taking strategies and general studying tips while providing a refreshing review of the content that will appear on the exam. Browse our full catalog of courses and select one that matches your preferred studying style!