What International Students Need to Know About the SAT

If you’re a Middle Eastern student wanting to go to university in the U.S. or an American studying at an International School and planning to return to the U.S. for college, you’ll need to take a standardized admissions test such has the SAT.  

Living outside of the U.S. can offer additional challenges for SAT takers, from limited test dates to additional requirements to cancelled tests.  The best source of information is the College Board’s Official Website. There is an entire section on International SAT Testing on this site. Make sure to review this information thoroughly.  This website is also where you will register for the SAT online.

You can help make the SAT testing process easy and stress free with these five important pieces of advice for International Students taking the SAT:

• Know Your Test Dates and Deadlines

• Plan Your Testing Schedule

• Register Early

• Prep and Study Online 

• Be Prepared the Day of the Test


1) Know Your SAT Test Dates and Deadlines

There are fewer international test dates than in the U.S.  Generally only four dates per year are available for international SAT testing, so make sure you are looking at an international testing calendar when planning.

For international students, there is no late registration available for any test. It is only available through 11:59 U.S. Eastern time on the deadline date.  Mailed registration must be received by the deadline, not postmarked by then. If you are using an International Representative, also known as an international service provider, you will register on paper. They will mail your application and it must be received by the early registration deadline.

If English is not your native language, you may also have to take the TOEFL or IELTS to show English language proficiency. This requirement is waived by some colleges and universities if you achieve a certain score on the SAT’s Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. Check with the specific schools you are applying to.

Following are the 2019-2020 dates to use for international SAT tests.

international test dates.png

2) Plan Your Testing Schedule

Start early – take at least one SAT test your junior year to give yourself time to take it again if you want to try to improve you score or SuperScore it.  We actually advise that you have three test dates available before your final applications are due. This leaves room for the possibility of cancelled tests, an issue that has been affecting international testing centers. The March 2019 SAT was cancelled entirely in in Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia because of cheating issues. Include the possibility of one cancelled test date as you are planning.  

When planning your test schedule, you’ll also want to factor in your application deadlines so that you know your scores will arrive to your schools of choice by these dates. Test scores are generally available two weeks after the test date, but June test scores can take longer – up to 6 weeks.


3) Register Early To Avoid Getting Shut Out Of Your Date

Register early for your SAT dates as test centers in the Middle East can fill up quickly. Last minute registrants may find they are unable to take the test in their home countries such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia because test dates are full.

Online registration takes at least 30 minutes. Be prepared with what you will need for registration, including a photo of yourself that meets the College Board’s specific requirements and the exact identifying information that will be on your photo ID.

Students taking the SAT outside of the U.S. will often incur additional fees. You can find the list of International Fees for SAT on the College Board website as well.

4) Prep and Study Online

The SAT cannot be aced with last minute cramming and studying. Give yourself at least 6 months of study time, but ideally you should prep for a year, especially if you are not a native English speaker. Read as much in English as you can. Find an online tutor to work with one on one so that you can focus on your individual strengths and weaknesses. A tutor will also help keep you on a study schedule, give you useful tips and tricks, and make efficient use of your time before taking the SAT. You’ll reduce your stress substantially if you prepare and study under the guidance of an online SAT tutor.


5) Be Prepared the Day of the Test

A good night’s rest before your test is more important than staying up late cramming. Eat a good breakfast and leave plenty of time to arrive at your test center. To be admitted to your SAT test, you will need your photo ID and Admissions Ticket. The name and information you use to register (which will be printed on your Admissions Ticket) should match exactly what is on your photo ID. You’ll also need a calculator and two #2 pencils. You may not have a cell phone or smartwatch with you. There are additional requirements for a few countries outside of the U.S., such as the type of ID that is allowed or rules at the test sites. Find a list of these policies on the College Board website under International Registration. Check out the full Student Registration Booklet from the College Board for further details.


A little planning and preparation makes your international SAT experience much easier, leaving you to focus on acing that test!


Melissa Daniels