There is a common belief in high school that the ACT/SAT should be taken repeatedly. Many students take the ACT/SAT two or three times in hopes of getting a higher score.
However, there are a few reasons that submitting your original score may be preferable to retaking the ACT/SAT. Let’s find out what they are.
1. You are pressed for time
College application season is upon us; soon, high school students will be scrambling to submit all their paperwork on time. Perhaps the deadline to send in your ACT/SAT scores is approaching quicker than you realized.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are pressed for time, it may not be in your best interest to retake the ACT/SAT. The main reason is that you will probably not be able to prepare for the test properly. If you cannot commit to reviewing or studying before the retake, your score is likely to improve very little, if at all.
Invest your time in the most crucial components of the college application process. Ask yourself whether your precious minutes would be better spent on other endeavors, such as campus tours, college essays, or applications themselves.
2. Your score is sufficient
You may not be content with your ACT/SAT scores thus far. You may think you are capable of doing better, even though your schools would accept your score as it is. While there is no fault in wanting to improve, retaking the ACT/SAT may not be necessary for you.
By settling with your preexisting score, you could save yourself time, money, and worry. You would not have to pay for the test, prepare for the test, or sit for the test again. If you are concerned about how your score will look, know this: having a median score on the ACT/SAT does not necessarily imply you are an “average” or “mediocre” student. Let your grades, college essays, and extracurricular history speak to admissions counselors about your unique talents.
3. Your goal is impractical
Are you a dreamer? Do you set extremely, and sometimes unrealistically, high goals for yourself? If so, your target score on the ACT/SAT may be unfeasible at this time. This is not to say that you are incapable of attaining your goal; if you have the time and dedication to practice religiously for the ACT/SAT, you very well could achieve the score you want. However, some students may not be aware of the amount of work and patience it takes to reach that stellar score.
At this point, it is essential to reflect on your testing history. Look over your previous scoring breakdown. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Be true to yourself and your abilities. If you are no math wizard, consider submitting your current math score instead of trying for a perfect one.
4. You probably won’t study
Maybe you do not plan on preparing for the ACT/SAT retake. You could be lacking motivation or find yourself quite busy with sports or other activities. The truth is that if you cannot or will not take the steps to boost your ACT/SAT score, there is little sense in retaking it.
If you do decide to retake either test, it should be for the right reasons: you reviewed key concepts, you have trained yourself to work faster, etc.
Despite outside pressures, retaking the ACT/SAT is not a necessity. Consider all facets of your personal situation, and then decide whether or not a retake would be best for you.
Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Spanish Language & Literature from Stony Brook University.