Should I Take the Test Again?

As all of the SAT scores and most of the ACT scores of the first tests of the school year have been reported, many of you are now contemplating taking it again. We’ve been hearing some good reasons and some not-so-good reasons for retakes, so I thought it would be useful to shed some insight from our perspective.

Please consider everything we say with a grain of salt and make the right decision for you! In hindsight, it is impossible to know what made or break an application, especially with all of the unknowns (like teacher recommendations) inherent in the process. And every admissions officer in the country will tell you that it doesn’t just come down to one thing (like a score) – except when it does (e.g. a 20 when the medians for the school’s applicants are 28-31). More likely you are stuck debating between a point or two, which may or may not make the difference.

Common reasons to NOT want to take the test again:

  1. “I really don’t want to! I am so over it.”
  2. “I don’t think it will make a big difference to my application.”
  3. “I don’t think I will score much higher if I try again.”
  4. “It will take away from the other things that are important in my life.”
  5. “I feel like I’ve taken it too many times already.”


All of these reasons depend heavily on you and your situation. The litmus test I recommend is as follows:

1. Can you make a real concerted effort (10-15 hours spread out over 5-6 weeks between sessions and homework)?

2. Are you right on the cusp of a median for your dream school or a percentile rank (e.g. the difference between 33 -> 34 or 29 -> 30)?

3. Do you feel like there’s just a little bit more left in you to score higher? As in, does it feel like there are a few questions you could get in every section if you pushed yourself a little more, or do you feel like you had a great sitting last time and pretty much got to everything that was possible with your current brain?

If the answer to any of these is no, you may not want to take the test again. It will likely result in frustration and take away from other more enjoyable and/or worthwhile activities. There is always the possibility that you will have a nice sitting and perform well regardless of making a final push, too. The deadline to register for the October ACT without the late fee is today, but you also have a few more weeks if you are willing to pay the additional fee. For the SAT, you still have time to register for the November SAT, which will release Nov 17-23, which should be plenty of time for the majority of your applications. Please call or text us (or leave comments below) if you have any further questions about your particular situation, and good luck with whatever you decide!

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