Preparing for College

SAT's and Admission for Post-High School Applicant

Question: I was a pretty good student in high school but with hardly any motivation. I didn't really think about going to college. I just wanted to work and make money. I graduated with a 3.4 gpa, but I never took the SAT. Now that I've tried the work world, I realize that without college I'll have a hard time being successful. I have two colleges in mind, but they both require the SAT. Is there any way to take the SAT after graduation, or are their other tests I could use for admissions to these colleges? Thanks!

You can certainly take the SAT after you’ve graduated from high school. Chances are, you will have to go back into a high school building to do soâ€"maybe even you own old schoolâ€"but there are test sites all over the world, so you will have lots of options, even if you’ve moved away from home.

You are wise to consider college, and you should take the SAT even if you missed the chance to do it at a more traditional time. Most colleges and universities do require them, and, while some may grant slack for those who are already out of school, many do not. Taking the SAT's is one of those thingsâ€"sort of like getting braces or chicken poxâ€"that only gets worse the further you are from childhood!

For all the registration information you need (dates, costs, test sites, practice questions, etc.) go to You'll see "Register for the SAT" right on the home page.

Alternatively, you can try the ACT, which is accepted by most every college that requires the SAT. Some students find this test more low-key or "user friendly" ... maybe just because there seems to be less hype surrounding it. See If you check out info about BOTH tests, you may decide that one is more comfortable--or convenient--for you.

You don't say how old you are--if you're recently out of high school or it's been a while since you graduated--but, in either case, colleges welcome "non-traditional students," so don't worry that your belated start will be held against you. In fact, when it's time to fill out applications, be sure to explain your situation in an essay or supplemental letter. Admission committees will want to hear your story, and they often find that "older" students are more focused and motivated than traditional-aged ones.

Moreover, if you're 24 or older and require financial aid, you can apply as an "independent student" so that your own income and assets--but not your parents--will be used to determine your likely aid awards.

Good luck to you as you take this big step.