Pros and Cons of Retaking the ACT / SAT

Do you take the SAT or ACT once or at least twice? What are the pros and cons of retaking the ACT / SAT?

Flickr user timlewisnm

Some students consider taking the ACT / SAT a one-and-done sort of situation, others go in expecting to retake it at least twice. Whichever camp your in, it never hurts to consider the points of the other side.

Pro: Better understanding of the test

Nothing is a substitute for experience. You can read all the test prep articles you want, but until you actually sit down to take the test you won’t know what it’s really like for you. The benefit of doing a retake┬áis that you know what to expect. You know which areas tripped you up, you know to bring an extra pencil because yours broke, you know that you’ll have to deal with the tick-tocking of a clock or the knee-jangling of your neighbor.

You can be more prepared the second time around, because you’ve already lived through it once before. This can help in a multitude of ways: from knowing what to expect, to giving you additional specialized prep time.

Con: It gets expensive

The ACT and SAT aren’t free. In fact, they’re pretty pricey—especially with the add-ons of essays or subject tests. Retaking the exams means paying again, which can take a toll on your wallet and take away dollars that could be spent on tuition fees.

Fortunately, if money is a real issue, there are ways to get the fees waived.

Pro: Increased score

Most students who retake the ACT / SAT often get a higher score than their first attempt. With more prep time, revised study strategies, confidence, and settled expectations, students are even more well-equipped.

In fact, ACT did a study (with 2015 data) that found repeat testers scored, on average, nearly 3 points higher than single-tester students. And the benefits only go up if students retake tests over the course of multiple years. Students who first tested in their sophomore year, would raise their score by 2.7 points—on average—by their final, senior-year testing.

Con: Takes time / focus away from other college prep activities

Anyone who’s taken the ACT / SAT can tell you what a time-suck it is. Long study sessions, review classes, tutoring, etc. It takes a while to become fully prepared, and that’s time that could be spent doing other important college prep things—like writing / revising your app essay or researching potential colleges.

Though your ACT / SAT score is important for both admissions and scholarship opportunities, it’s not the only element to your college application. You’ve still got your GPA, extracirriculars, community service, recommendation letters, and essays to work on.

Interested in seeing how your ACT / SAT affects your admission odds to the colleges on your list? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool!