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How Often Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

Sep 11, 2018 | College Admissions

The SAT is offered seven times each year and the ACT is offered twelve times. With so many opportunities, you have plenty of chances to take the test of your choice. But how many times should you? That depends on several factors.

Your college choices

Different colleges have different admissions expectations and processes. Some are test-optional schools. These are a great choice for students who tend not to test well. But most schools assume you will take the test, and take it more than once.  Read this blog post for some helpful insight regarding the various policies of many different colleges.

What your college does with test scores

Many schools require you to send in all your scores and will “super-score,” which means they will pick the highest score from each section. Super-scoring is great because it gives a student a chance to shine. Let’s say you took the SAT twice. The first time you got a 550 in Math and 710 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), for an overall score of 1260. The second time, after studying hard for Math, you earned a 690 on Math and a 650 on EBRW, for an overall score of 1340. That’s much better. But by super-scoring, the school would take your best Math and your best EBRW sections, 690 and 710, and give you an overall score of 1400. This is the score that would be shown to the admissions officials evaluating your application.

What else the schools require

Some top schools actually want you to take the SAT or ACT more than once, and many more top schools additionally require or recommend two or three Subject Tests in addition to the SAT or ACT. You will have to allow time to study for these.

How well you do

Did you take it once and get a massive score in each section? Is your score well above the requirement for your schools of choice? Lucky you! Maybe once is enough. However, if you took the test before you knew the material and did poorly, plan to take it two more times, so the admissions officials have good scores from which to choose for your super-score.

Planning your study schedule

It’s at this point that you take all the answers to the above questions and create a study plan. This plan will help you determine how often you can take the SAT or ACT, and how to prepare for Subject Tests, most of which are only given once or twice a year. So begin studying early and planning early.

Plan to take the test twice, and allow time for a third if necessary. Taking a practice SAT and a practice ACT will help you choose which test is best for your test-taking style and the subjects you’ve studied in school.

A common schedule that works for many students is to take the first test in the first semester of Junior year. Then study the areas you need work on and take it a second time at the end of Junior year. (Don’t forget to fit in Subject test studying and test-taking, if necessary.) With this schedule, you will be able to decide if you need to take the test a third time, in your Senior year.

If you need help planning your success, reach out to us. We have a passion for helping young people start their college years with confidence and success.