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Does Retaking the SAT Look Bad?

You are trying to impress a college or university. Unfortunately, your SAT scores do not look that impressive. You are thinking about retaking the SAT because you believe that you can ace the test the second time around. However, you fear that it can make you look bad in the eyes of admissions officers.

Retaking the SAT doesn’t make students look bad. On the contrary, it can make students look good because retaking the SAT can increase SAT scores by 40 points or more. Besides, test experts highly recommend taking the SAT at least twice — during junior and senior years — for higher SAT scores.

It’s perfectly normal to have less-than-remarkable SAT scores the first time the test is taken. Due to this, many students will have to take the SAT two to three times before they can end up with scores they are happy with.

Colleges and universities know that the SAT is not easy, which is why they don’t mind considering applicants who took the SAT twice or more.

Besides, retaking the exam to get a shot at putting better scores in their application demonstrates perseverance and determination, just two of the many traits admissions officers are always looking for.

The majority of schools require applicants to send at least one SAT score. This means that you can send the one that you are extremely proud of.

However, some schools might ask you to send your SAT scores from different test dates. But that’s okay because it’s very much likely that they will only take a look at your highest scores.

As a matter of fact, many colleges and universities will consider your SAT superscore, which is the total of your highest scores in each section of the SAT from different test dates.

Read on if you are thinking about retaking the SAT but have doubts and hesitations. Below, you will come across some very important things about preparing for and taking the SAT all over again. By the end of this article, hopefully, you will have a better idea why it’s completely fine to give retaking the SAT a go.

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Is It Worth It to Retake the SAT?

Retaking the SAT is worth it as it allows for the improvement of one’s score. Generally, the greatest SAT score increase is achieved the second time the test-taker takes the SAT. After retaking the SAT, it’s possible to take it again if the test-taker believes there’s still room for improvement.

As mentioned earlier, 55% of students who retook the SAT saw significant improvements in their SAT scores.

Taking the SAT a second time may help you get the SAT scores that your dream college or university is looking for. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to get 100 more points when you retake the test. Click here if you would like to know how you could increase your SAT score by 100 in as short as one week.

However, besides attempting to get better SAT scores, which is what’s likely to happen with ample preparation, there are other things you should keep in mind when retaking the standardized test.

For instance, retaking the SAT doesn’t come free of charge — the SAT costs $52 without the optional Essay section and $68 with the optional Essay section for the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

Then there’s also the fact that you will have to prepare for an SAT retake, which will require you to devote plenty of time studying if getting the same or lower SAT score the second time around is not an option.

If you are not very good with time management, your studies, extracurricular activities, and college applications may suffer in the process.

And this brings us to this pressing question that needs an answer…

How Much Do SAT Scores Improve the Second Time?

Typically, students retaking the SAT see score improvements by 40 points. A small percentage of SAT retakers often see an increase in scores in both Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections of the test by 100 points or more. Still, a few retakers experience no improvement in SAT scores.

Statistics on the improvements in SAT scores the second time tend to vary slightly. For instance, in another report, it is said that SAT retakers tend to enjoy 60 to 70 additional points.

It also stated that it’s possible to improve one’s SAT score after retaking it not only by 150 points or 300 points but also by 500 points!

While that could happen to you, too, whether your SATs are taken one academic year apart or less, a 500-point improvement might make the College Board suspect that there’s cheating involved.

Getting a higher score when you retake the SAT is very much likely, and it’s for a couple of reasons:

  • Improved preparation. It’s true that you can have firsthand experience with the SAT by taking the official SAT practice tests. This is especially true if you answer the different sections within time limits. However, nothing can introduce you to the SAT more than the real deal. As they say, experience is the best teacher — you can use your previous SAT experience to gear up for your second test.
  • Reduced anxiety. Up to 20% of students have high test anxiety, making taking tests, such as the SAT, the most widespread academic impairment in schools today. Taking the SAT for the first time can leave any high school student anxious, especially because it can have a massive impact on their college admission verdicts. Taking the SAT another time allows you to approach the test with more confidence.

Refrain from assuming that just because most test-takers who retake the SAT see marked improvements in their scores means that you will surely get a better SAT score when you retake it.

Your initial SAT scores can help you determine which sections are your strengths and which sections are your weaknesses. Also, they can help you assess your test-taking approach. Not too many students know the fact that getting high SAT scores is not just about having the right knowledge but also the correct strategy.

This is when the importance of knowing some of the best SAT hacks comes in. It’s not enough that you know the right answers — it’s also a must that you know how to answer the SAT right!

Just Before You Retake the SAT

Many students retake the SAT, and the majority of them are happy with their new SAT scores. Because it’s a well-known fact that SAT scores tend to improve the second time around, retaking the SAT doesn’t look bad. As a matter of fact, it can demonstrate perseverance and determination to improve, which admissions officers generally see as a plus.

While the SAT is just one small part of your application, it’s nonetheless an integral component. This is especially true if you are looking to receive an acceptance letter from a selective college or university.

Feel free to retake the SAT if you firmly believe that you can improve your SAT scores by just a few points or by leaps and bounds. Either way, it’s a must that you prepare for the SAT to keep yourself from being one of the 35% of SAT retakers who saw a drop in their scores and 10% of SAT retakers who didn’t see a change in their scores.

Related Questions

Should I retake the SAT if my score is 1530 or above?

There is no need to retake the SAT if your score is 1530 or above. Based on 2017 statistics, it puts you in the top 1% or 99th percentile of all test-takers. Besides, having a perfect SAT score is not a guarantee that you will get accepted by a college or university — it’s just one part of your application.

Can I cancel my SAT scores?

It’s possible to cancel your SAT score, usually if you feel that you have underperformed. However, one should act quickly. Requesting for cancellation of SAT scores should be done before leaving the testing site or on or before 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on the Thursday following the exam day.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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