Testing For the SAT Multiple Times? How you can improve. 

Tips from Ivy Bound.

If you’re filling out your college applications, you are well into the effort of putting together a picture of yourself that shows your top colleges that you are worth a positive admission decision.  No matter what your college program of study will be, your school transcript, extracurricular activities, optional writing samples, good grades, and even bad grades add up to a full picture of who you are, and who admissions officers can expect to show up for orientation.

Your math score, science score, writing scores and more can enhance your profile among college admission teams, and can set you apart from the thousands of students who are also fighting for a seat at orientation.  That means that it’s critical to think about taking the SAT or ACT more than once. (A quick plug here for private prep companies like Ivy Bound – we excel in helping students to lift their scores during subsequent testing attempts.).

It’s more important than ever that your college planning activities include scheduling multiple tests. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many colleges to change their admission criteria and pause requirements for standardized test scores. The pandemic also resulted in many students deferring their college application process.   What this means is that, for today’s college admissions decisions, you need to stand out with strong test scores and you are facing competition for spots from more applicants than ever before.  If your college list includes several of the top rated colleges in the country, admissions counselors will tell you that the stakes are even higher – click here to see admissions statistics for some of the nation’s most selective schools.

You will most likely want to take any standardized tests required for college entrance, and for your college major, more than once. A thorough school counselor may even recommend taking them several times.  With two exceptions (not sure what the 2 exceptions are), every student enlisted in SAT or ACT tutoring should look at the testing schedule and plan to take the next test following her or his target test. There are four good reasons for this:

1) Multiple tests take the pressure off.  When one test is “do or die”, you may be more focused on your ultimate score than on the task at hand during the exam.

2) Because the score use policy at all colleges gives the benefit of the best score they see, you can take advantage of more data.  It’s not your average score that schools are looking for, but your best score.

3) Because most colleges super-score, a good standardized test score on one section means you don’t have to be concerned with that section leading to the second test. Testing on file will be negated if you do better, or will stand if you do worse. There is less follow-up study and no worry about the possibility of a test score falling and impacting your school career.

4) There is randomness in each test. A student who tests a second time and finds even one of four ACT passages preferable could see 9 of 10 right versus 5 of 10. That alone is a 2- or 3-point improvement on ACT Reading score.

Emotionally, we expect that the “multiple test” mantra for standardized testing weighs favorably. Maybe you studied hard, but your study plan fell short of your goal on the target test; a second test makes the most of your study and allows you more time in prep courses to fully prepare.

Now, we know that some students are fearful of a second test score also being mediocre, because no one wants to live with mediocrity twice. This is emotionally understandable, but the economics of college acceptance means there is literally no down side to a bad second test since the better score rules. And good prep classes can definitely help to maximize results, making your college application materials even more attractive to potential colleges

We’ll conclude on the emotional plane: If you are passionate about getting into a certain college, we think it’s better to be denied knowing that you gave your best and fell short of that college’s standards, rather than not giving all that you could to the college admissions process.

The bottom line? Staying with one test sticks you with a number. For college admissions purposes, taking a second test is never worse.

Studying Strategy for Second Consecutive SAT