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Does retaking the ACT/SAT really matter when applying for college?

If my scores were low, can I really make a difference in my score? enough that I can increase my chances of receiving scholarship and grant awards to help with the cost of college?

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Katie’s Answer

Hi Dennis,

Your ACT/SAT scores matter when applying for college, so you want to try and get the best score possible. Most students take the exam more than once (I did!) and colleges expect this. And YES, you can improve your scores! The key will be to practice and then re-take the test. There are books, online tools and in-person test preparation from groups like Kaplan. If you put in the time and effort, you can definitely improve your score.

Sign up to practice free online at Khan Academy:

They say that 20 hours of practice can result in 115-point score increase! Remember that it's better to practice consistently over a few weeks or months vs a few all day study sessions. You won't remember all that info, so instead practice a little bit at a time over several weeks or months.

Here are some more SAT practice resources:

I would encourage you to study and take the test again. The SAT and ACT are intimidating big tests. It's ok if you didn't score as high as you wanted to, especially on your first try. It will be important to know what range of scores the scholarships or grants require. You could ask your guidance counselor or college advisor if they have grant/scholarship requirements.

Check out the website below for more info. Nearly everyone takes the SAT/ACT more than once to get the best score possible. This website says that taking the test about 4 times is a good number to get your scores up if you are prepared.

Good luck! Remember that this is a big test, but it's important. Make a plan to study and practice. That will help you get your scores up!

Katie recommends the following next steps:

Create a plan to practice for the SAT/ACT. Include websites or books that you will use and set dates with times to make sure you are dedicating enough time to study.
Identify SAT/ACT score requirements for grants and scholarships you're interested in applying.
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Natalie’s Answer

Hi Dennis,

I agree with the other commenters - you can absolutely improve your score! Even if you don't pick up a book between tests, there are other factors to consider - you could get different questions, you may feel more comfortable than you did on your first exam, you may have gotten more sleep the night before...the list goes on!

Of course, I would recommend studying between exams. Concentrate on what you struggled with at first so you can focus your efforts on these areas. By doing practice problems and being more familiar with the whole process, you will likely improve. I did this myself and improved my score when I was in high school!

Even if it sounds stressful to take the exam again, it is worth it to try so that you give yourself the best chance possible in your applications.
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Roger’s Answer

My oldest daughter took the SAT 4 times.

My youngest daughter took the SAT 3 times.

And, every time they took the test, their scores improved.

Colleges will accept your best overall score for each category in Reading / Writing/ Math.

I strongly recommend taking the test 3 times. And I also recommend taking the SAT initially at the end of your Sophomore year in high school so you know where you need to improve / focus your time during your junior year in high school.

YES. Re-taking SAT matters and your scores should improve.

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Richard’s Answer

Yes! Not only does improving your scores give you a better shot of admission to school, it also helps when you apply for scholarships. Furthermore, there are plenty of ways to improve your score. Khan Academy gives free, high quality training online that you can do. Other companies such as the Princeton Review have books you can buy that act as a self-study course for improving your score on the standardized tests.