What To Do If You Get a Low SAT or ACT Score

Student studying for the SAT or ACT

Flickr user Wendt Commons

If you take the SAT or ACT, it can be discouraging to receive your test results back and find you scored low. Luckily, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you took one of the earlier testing dates. Here’s what to do if you get a low SAT or ACT score.

Sign up for a Retest

It’s a good idea to sign up to retake the test as soon as you receive your lower than expected results from the ACT or SAT. However, if you waited too long to take the exam the first time, you may not have the chance to retake it. Schools have cutoff dates for scores and other aspects of your application, so always make sure you know the deadlines for SAT or ACT results.

Check What You Did Wrong

The first thing to do when you receive your scores is to check what you did wrong. Review your answers and compare them to the questions. This will help you see where you need to improve.

Make sure you’re not just reading the questions you got wrong and moving on. You want to understand exactly why you answered it incorrectly so you can improve upon your results and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Prepare for the SAT or ACT Retake

Now that you have a test date set and understand where you went wrong on previous tests, it’s time to prepare for the retake. Create a study schedule to make sure you’re devoting enough time to your weaker areas or subjects, practice exams, and reviews. Follow the SAT and ACT timers and rules so you’re getting an accurate picture of your improvement as time goes on.

See if Your School Uses Superscoring

Say you’ve already taking the SAT or ACT a few times. You score well on the math portion the first go around, but poorly on the English. On your second test, the roles reverse. You did well on the English but badly on math.

Thankfully, there’s superscoring for this situation! Superscoring is where your future school takes the best scores from your exams and stitching them together. Many colleges allow students to do this and it allows schools to get a better idea of your results.

Not Necessarily the Most Important Factor

Even if your overall scores are low or you just aren’t hitting your goals on retakes of the SAT and ACT, it’s good to know that your college application is made up of much more than just test results. Academic rigor, GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteering, demonstrated interest, and college interviews also play a large role along with SAT or ACT scores.

If you accomplished this, you can rest easy that your low ACT or SAT score won’t matter as much when it comes to your college application.

Even if you didn’t score as high as you would have liked on your first take of the ACT or SAT, it’s not too late to correct that. Whether you get a higher overall score or are able to use superscores, you still have a chance to get closer (or even reach) your goals.

Check out how your SAT or ACT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor!

Hilary Cairns

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