How Much Does It Cost to Take the SAT?

SAT Fees Can Quickly Add Up

SAT Subject Tests
••• Getty Images | Michelle Joyce

If you have a child who's soon heading off to college, taking the SAT is one hurdle they may still have to jump. The SAT is one of the factors colleges consider as part of the admissions process and for students, there's often a lot of pressure to do well. If you're a parent, one of your main concerns with the SAT is how much it will cost.

While you'll pay a fee for the test itself, there are other costs that can make the SAT process more expensive. So, how much does it cost to take the SAT? Here's how the various fees break down and what you can do to potentially lower the out-of-pocket expense of testing.

How Much Does It Cost to Take the SAT?

For the 2020 testing season, the fee for the SAT is $49.50, according to CollegeBoard. Students taking the SAT with the essay portion included will pay $64.50.

Those are the registration fees to take the test. There are additional fees parents and students may pay to take the test. Those include:

  • Register by phone fee: $15
  • Change fee (to change your test center or date): $30
  • Late registration fee: $30
  • Waitlist fee (charged if you're admitted to the testing center on test day): $53
  • Additional score report request (beyond the four score reports test-takers get free): $12
  • Rush order for score reporting: $31
  • Scores by phone: $15 per call
  • Hand-scoring: $55 each for essay and multiple choice sections

Those fees apply to the standard SAT. There are a different set of fees for SAT Subject Tests. Subject tests are focused on specific study areas and some colleges may require them in addition to the regular SAT.

The fees for SAT Subject Tests for the 2020 testing season are as follows:

  • Registration fee: $26
  • Each SAT Subject Test: $22 per additional test
  • Language tests with listening: $26 per additional test

For a student who's taking the SAT with the essay portion and one or more subject tests, the costs of taking the SAT can quickly add up. There are also the costs you might pay for pretesting to get prepped for test day.

SAT Pretesting Fees

How much you'll spend on pretesting for the SAT can vary widely. The typical cost to hire an SAT tutor, for example, ranges from $45 to $100, with the average fee coming in at $70 per hour.

Private SAT tutors can offer coaching and guidance on the general SAT, essay portions, or for specific subject tests. If you're hiring a tutor for multiple study sessions versus just one or two, it's possible that they may offer a discount for a longer contract.

The price of tutoring can climb much higher. There are private tutors charging $1,000 an hour or more for SAT prep for students aiming at Ivy League school admittance.

Then there are SAT summer camps and bootcamps. These are designed to be intensive SAT study experiences, typically lasting a few weeks at a time. Depending on which camp students attend, the cost can be a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Residential programs, for example, can run $5,000 or more.

Online SAT prep is another option. Some sites, like Khan Academy, offer SAT prep courses online for free. Online SAT prep through PrepScholar, on the other hand, can run close to $7,000.

When deciding whether to pay for pretesting services, it ultimately comes down to your budget and what you can afford. And, it's also important to consider the potential return on investment. When comparing SAT tutoring or online prep services, research the kind of SAT results test-takers typically achieve. That can help you gauge whether the cost of a particular tutor or program is worth it.

How to Make Taking the SAT Less Expensive

There are two main ways to reduce costs when taking the SAT. The first is requesting fee waivers for the test itself.

Students who are eligible for fee waivers can take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests for free. They can also get other benefits to help with the college application process. SAT fee waivers are available for low-income 11th and 12th-grade students. SAT Subject Test fee waivers are available for high school students in grades 9 to 12.

To qualify for a fee waiver, at least one of the following conditions must also apply:

  • Students must be enrolled in or eligible for the National School Lunch Program
  • Their family income must fall within the income eligibility guidelines set by the USDA
  • They must be enrolled in a federal, state or local student aid program for low-income families
  • Their family receives public assistance
  • They must live in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or be homeless
  • They must be a ward of the state or an orphan

The fee waiver covers the costs of taking the SAT or SAT Subject Tests and includes unlimited score reports to colleges. Additionally, students who qualify for the fee waiver may also be able to have application fees waived at certain colleges. There are no late registration fees but students will still pay a fee if they need to change their test date or testing center.

The other way to save money on SAT costs is by looking into free or low-cost test prep options. Sites like Khan Academy, CollegeBoard, Union Test Prep, The Princeton Review, and Kaplan Test Prep all offer free practice tests and other tools to help students prepare for the SAT online. High schools and colleges may also offer free or low-cost practice testing or tutoring services.

The Bottom Line

So, how much does it cost to take the SAT? The answer varies for every student, depending on what services are used for pretesting and whether fee waivers apply. Estimating the cost well before test day and planning a separate budget for those costs can keep the SAT from being a financial headache.

Article Sources

  1. CollegeBoard. "SAT Suite of Assessments: Fees," Accessed Oct. 1, 2019.

  2. "How Much Does an SAT Tutor Cost?" Accessed Oct. 1, 2019.

  3. CollegeBoard. "SAT Suite of Assessments: SAT Fee Waivers," Accessed Oct. 1, 2019.