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Should You Retake the SAT/ACT?

Remember, completing the ACT or the SAT is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Andrea Deck, Varsity Tutors’ Contributor

July 16, 2014

Should You Retake the SAT/ACT?
Completing the ACT or the SAT is an accomplishment in and of itself. Both standardized tests are challenging and nerve-wracking, and they often involve months of intense review. As your classmates begin to receive their scores, talk of sitting for the ACT or the SAT a second time grows. But how do you decide if you should retake either exam?

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Begin by considering the three questions below.

What Score Did You Expect to Earn on the ACT/SAT?

This may seem obvious, but if your result is comparable to your practice test scores, it is likely an accurate indicator of your ability. If you still wish to secure a higher mark, note that it will involve a significant amount of work to raise your score—and your point gains may still be minimal.

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If you were expecting a much better result based on your mock exams, then it is wise to critically examine your testing habits, rather than your content knowledge or study techniques. Was time management a significant issue? Did an unforeseen event interrupt your concentration during your session? If you believe your score was out of character, consider retaking the exam.

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Do you Fare Poorly on Assessments?

If completing the ACT or the SAT was a particularly frustrating experience—and if this is a common outcome for you in school—view this as a sign. A growing number of colleges and universities do not require students to submit exam results with their application packets. Rather than committing to the continued misery of reviewing for and taking the ACT or the SAT, investigate alternative options. Each school maintains its own test policy, so ensure you conduct careful research, as your dream university may insist upon including ACT or SAT test scores with your application.

What Results Did Your Classmates Receive?

In truth, this question is of absolutely no value. Remember that you are far more than your exam scores, and it does not matter how others, including your friends, performed. If you are unhappy with your results, and you have the energy and time necessary for further prep, you may be happier if you complete the exam again. If you are content with your score, or you cannot commit to additional review, you may see little benefit in retesting. It is admittedly very difficult to resist the fervor that accompanies college admissions exams. If the three questions in this article do not help you confidently make a decision, speak with a professional who can address your specific situation. A teacher who understands your higher education goals, learning style, and testing abilities; a guidance counselor who can examine your entire admissions portfolio; or an admissions representative at your first-choice college or university are excellent, informed resources. Whether or not you decide to complete the ACT or the SAT for a second time, congratulations! Finishing an exam cycle is always difficult, but you have managed to persevere.

Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.

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