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How much does it cost to take the SAT?

You may have to pay more than just the $49.50 testing fee.

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While the SAT itself costs less than $50, subject tests, score fees and test prep can run your bill into the thousands of dollars. Fortunately, you have a few options to reduce this cost — from applying for a fee waiver to taking advantage of free SAT prep from the College Board.

How much does the SAT cost?

The basic SAT won't cost much, but if your child needs more than that, the fees will start to add up. Here's how it breaks down:

TestFee

SAT

$52

SAT with essay

$68

SAT subject test registration

$26

SAT subject test

$22 per test

SAT language test with listening

$26 per test

Other SAT fees

Your SAT score will be sent to four colleges of your choice. For everything else, there are a number of optional fees you may have to pay for test registration or specialized scoring.

Registration fees

ServiceCost

Phone registration

$15

Late registration

$30

Test center change

$30

Waitlist

$53

Score fees

ServiceCostFee waiver available?

Additional score reports

$12 per report

Yes

Rush order

$31

No

Scores by phone

$15 per call

No

Archived SAT scores

$31

No

SAT question-and-answer service

$18

Yes

SAT answer service

$13.50

Yes

Multiple-choice manual score verification

$55

Reduction available

Essay manual score verification

$55

Reduction available

What does the SAT test prep cost?

The total cost of test prep will depend on how much your child needs to study. The College Board offers a suite of free SAT practice options for students. This includes online and PDF copies of practice tests as well as an app that gives students one prep question per day. These free guides replace the expensive official test prep, helping level the playing field between families in different economic situations.

But if you're concerned about your child's scores and need more resources, there are other options available. SAT tutors charge around $45 to $100 per hour of tutoring, according to Tutors.com. Check out your local tutoring centers and do a price comparison. This is the best way to get an affordable tutor to help your child succeed on the SAT.

For more free alternatives, turn to websites like Coursera and Udemy. Some nonprofits also offer free test prep, so be on the lookout for programs and special events in your area.

Is the SAT necessary to get into college?

For many schools, the SAT is a way of gauging a student's ability to learn at the college level. However, there are more than 1,000 accredited colleges and universities that don't require the SAT or ACT. Some merit scholarships also require SAT scores. So while it may not be necessary, it can improve your child's chances of winning scholarships and impressing the admissions offices.

Should my child also take the ACT?

It depends on your area. Some schools have a preference for the ACT, whereas others prefer the SAT. And because of the different structures, some students do better with one exam over the other. If you're unsure, check with your student's guidance counselor to determine the best course of action.

Bottom line

The basic SAT won't run you much for the first test, but subject tests and writing tests can quickly add up. Now that the College Board offers free materials for test prep, your bill will be a bit lower. You can also read up on SAT fee waivers to reduce the overall cost even more.

For ways to financially prepare for your student's secondary education, read our guide to paying for college.

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