Taking the SAT is usually a must for high school juniors and seniors who want to apply to college. The test — developed in 1926 as the Scholastic Aptitude Test and recently revamped by the College Board — assesses a student’s readiness for higher education and is required for admission to many colleges.
If you have teenagers or preteens in your household, you’ll want to know: How much do SATs cost? The process of preparing for and taking the SAT can be broken down into three stages:
- Practicing for the tests.
- Registering for and taking the SAT.
Retaking the SAT, if necessary.
There are costs associated with each stage.
Cost of SAT practice and prep courses
Practice SATs (which are different from the official Preliminary SAT, or PSAT) are available free online from Khan Academy, a non-profit organization that offers web-based tutoring. There are full-length practice tests, plus study and test-taking tips, including video lessons and thousands of practice questions. The College Board and Khan Academy also have developed a free app that asks a question a day, to help a student get ready for the SAT.
If a student prefers to take an SAT prep course in a classroom setting or through private one-on-one tutoring, there are many companies that offer options for various budgets. The best idea is to shop around carefully to find the best fit. Here’s an idea of how much SAT prep costs:
Classroom coaching: Basic classroom prep can cost as little as around $100 in some communities and as much as $6,000 in coaching schools, depending on the package and delivery method (whether it’s in class or live online).
Personal coaching: Basic tutoring can cost as little as $30 an hour, but intensive training can cost up to $150 or more per hour.
Online coaching: Online coaching packages can run anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000, depending on the number of hours of tutoring. Explore personal loans as one option for covering those costs.
Study groups: Information about free, community-based study groups can be found on the College Board’s website.
A student might want to try the PSAT, which is a preliminary exam administrated through high schools. This will typically cost $15.
Registration and testing fees
Anyone who wants to take the SAT must register either online or by mail with the College Board. There are a number of processing fees to consider. In 2017, the following fees applied to U.S. testing centers. There are additional fees for taking the test outside of the U.S. A student may retake the SAT multiple times, but the fees must be paid each time:
Cost of the SAT: $45
SAT with essay: $57
Each SAT subject test: Add $20 each
Language with listening test (November only): Add $26
Late fee (if you miss the registration deadline): $28
Waitlist fee: $46
Change fee: $28
Payment can be made by credit card, PayPal, personal check or money order, or a bank draft at the time of registration. If a student decides to cancel the registration and not take the test, a partial refund will be paid.
Students who are eligible may be able to have registration and test fees waived. A school counselor can help determine eligibility.
Cost of SAT score reports
At registration time, a family pays for the score reports. When a test is missed and not rescheduled, those fees are refundable. About nine days after the test, score reports can be accessed from the College Board at no cost. For a fee and depending on needs, your family can request that additional score reports be sent to colleges.
Rates in 2017 were as follows:
Four score reports online: Free
Scores by phone: $15 per call
Additional reports: $12 each
Rush service: $31 per rush report
While every student gets to send SAT scores to four colleges for free, income-eligible students receive double that number, allowing them to send scores to up to eight schools at no cost. That increases the chances of applying to and enrolling in a college that’s a good fit.
When applying for college, students and their families need to consider all of the costs involved in taking the SAT. To take the test as inexpensively as possible, a student can take practice tests and become part of a study group — but he or she may not be fully prepared. If a family opts to spend money on preparatory classes or tutoring, a student may be more prepared and confident when taking the SAT, and may need to take the test just one time to achieve a satisfying score.