When Should Students NOT Retake the ACT/SAT Test?

Flickr user KT King

Most students who retake the ACT/SAT get a higher score the second time around. It’s highly recommended to take an exam more than once—higher scores lead to increased acceptance odds and more scholarships, after all. But are there times when you shouldn’t retake?

You’ve Already Taken it at Least Twice

The answer to the question “Can you take the ACT/SAT too many times?” is: it depends. Generally speaking, colleges view a retake as a sign of persistence and willingness to learn, which is great.

However, take it a third or fourth time, and it gives the impression that you think the ACT/SAT is the most important thing about your application—and it’s not. Applications are a balance of grades, test scores, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and a personal essay. You don’t want to ignore the other elements and get too hyper-focused on the ACT/SAT.

You’ve Met Your Goal / Met the College Average

If you haven’t already, take the time to set an ACT/SAT score goal. It could be that you want to match the average score of the colleges on your list or raise your initial score. But if you’ve hit that goal, you might want to consider letting sleeping dogs lie. Turn your attention to other things, like hunting for scholarships or volunteering.

You’re Behind on Regular Schoolwork / Other Activities

With the amount of hype the ACT and SAT receive, it’s not surprising that so many students spend a huge chunk of their time and energy preparing for it. While studying will take plenty of hard work, you shouldn’t let other responsibilities fall by the wayside. If your GPA is flagging because you spend more time studying for your third ACT exam, you might want to rethink.

As we said earlier, your test scores are only one part of your whole application. Make sure you give the right amount of attention to everything.

Time is of the Essence

College prep takes up a lot of time. Managing your GPA and academic rigor takes time, attending college visits takes time, crafting college applications takes time and studying for the ACT/SAT takes time. If you’re getting down to the wire, it may be best to switch focuses on other things that need to get done—like collecting letters of recommendation or editing your app essay.

Check out how your ACT/SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

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