How to Register for the SAT - dummies

By Geraldine Woods, Ron Woldoff

How you register for the SAT depends on whether you have taken it before. If you are taking the test for the first time, then you can register either online or by mail. If you’ve taken the SAT before, you can register by phone.

Online registration is simple: Go to the College Board website to sign up and to choose a test center and date. You need a credit card or a PayPal account and a digital photo of yourself ready to upload. Be sure the photo meets the College Board’s criteria (standards). The College Board wants what Hollywood agents call “a head shot” — a photo featuring everything above shoulder level. You should be the only one in the picture, and your whole face must be visible. Head coverings are okay only if they’re religious in nature. The College Board accepts JPEG, GIF, and PNG formats.

You can also register by mail. In fact, you have to do so if you’re younger than 13 or older than 21 or if you need to take the exam on a Sunday for religious reasons. Ask the college or guidance counselor at your school for a registration form. If you’re home-schooled, call the nearest public or private high school. Older test-takers (over 21 years of age): Call the College Board Customer Service Center for help (within the U.S.: 866-756-7346; outside the U.S.: 212-713-7789). You have to attach a photo (no smaller than 2 x 2 inches and no larger than 2.5 x 3 inches) to the paper registration. Follow the same guidelines for the online photo, and make sure it shows your face clearly. Tape the photo to the designated area of the application. With the application, enclose payment (credit card number, a check from a United States bank, or a bank draft).

If you’re suffering through the SAT for a second time, you can register by phone, though you pay an extra $15 to do so. Call the College Board’s Customer Service center (within the U.S.: 866-756-7346; outside the U.S.: 212-713-7789). Hearing-impaired test-takers can call the TTY Customer Service number (within the U.S.: 888-857-2477; outside the U.S.: 609-882-4118).

However you register, you’ll be asked whether you want to sign up for the Student Search Service. Answer yes and fill out the questionnaire. Colleges, universities, and some scholarship-granting organizations receive information about you from this service. Expect lots of emails and letters — a little annoying, perhaps, but you may discover a school or scholarship that meets your needs perfectly.

Neither the Student Search Service nor any other part of the College Board markets products to you via email or regular mail, but some scam artists do. Don’t send personal or financial information to any organization unless you know it’s legitimate. Not sure? Call the College Board to check (within the U.S.: 866-756-7346; outside the U.S.: 212-713-7789).