Should You Retake the SAT?

test prep

Your SAT scores influence both college admissions decisions and merit-based financial aid awards. Although you worked hard to prepare for this intense exam, your current SAT scores may not quite make the mark. Consider these factors as you decide if retaking the SAT is worth the effort.

Why Retake the SAT?

There are several reasons why you might consider retaking the SAT. Let's look at a few of them.

You may be a junior or senior in high school whose SAT scores fall below the admissions standards at your college of choice. Even if your current scores will help you win an acceptance letter, you could be concerned that they will not qualify you for adequate merit-based financial aid.

High school students are not the only ones who retake the SAT. Some institutions only accept SAT scores from recent years. An older adult contemplating a return to college may find it necessary to retake the exam.

What to Consider before Retaking the SAT

Financial Factors

You will need to pay testing fees to the College Board each time you retake the SAT. Increase your chances for an improved score by using test prep resources that are more economical and allow you to budget your time wisely, such as online SAT preparation.

Retaking the SAT requires both time and money, but can lead to improved financial aid and greater chances at college acceptance.

Know the Score

Retaking the SAT could be well worth the extra time and money. Even a slightly higher score might make the difference between rejection and acceptance at a university, or an increased level of financial aid. And you may do better the second time around because you know what to expect.

The College Board has compiled a list of the SAT score-use practices for hundreds of undergraduate institutions throughout the United States. Familiarize yourself with the score-use policies for any schools you'd like to attend. These policies explain how colleges will treat your SAT scores in their admissions decisions, especially if you take the SAT more than once.

Alternatives to Retaking the SAT

If you think retaking the SAT may not be the best plan for you, there are a few alternatives.

Manual Score Verification

If you believe that your scores were rendered inaccurately by the standard automated scanning process, you have the right to request that your test be manually re-scored. (If the manual score verification reveals that errors were made in the automated scoring process, your verification fee will be refunded.) Manual score verification includes every section of every answer sheet for a given testing day.

If you are thinking about retaking the SAT because you did not get the score you expected, manual score verification is another option to consider.

If test guidelines were not followed—for example, if you did not fill in the answer circles completely in a multiple-choice section or wrote answers outside of the designated areas in an essay section—your score will not be improved by manual review and verification.

Your test score can only be manually verified one time. The manually verified score would be considered final by the College Board, even if the revised score is not in your favor.

Changing Your College Plans

If your SAT scores are not adequate for admission to your chosen school, you could look for a college that either accepts scores within your current range or places little or no emphasis on your SAT scores. Colleges and universities that use the Common Application tend to be less focused on SAT performance, considering other factors (such as prior academic performance) as more reliable indicators of your capabilities.

Consider starting your college career at a school with lower SAT score standards, then transferring to your preferred school after a year or two of exceptional academic performance. A community college with open admissions standards might be a good place to start. Depending on the transfer policies of your ''dream school,'' you may be able to transition to your desired institution after completing certain courses with excellent grades and receiving recommendations from key professors.

If you decide to retake the SAT, take advantage of economical and flexible options for test prep, such as those found on Study.com.

Improving Your SAT Scores

If you choose to retake the SAT, make sure quality test prep is part of your test-taking strategy. Prepare to retake the SAT with Study.com's extensive online SAT resources. Self-paced lessons, optimized for on-the-go learning, conveniently deliver comprehensive SAT test prep on demand.

By Michelle Baumgartner
March 2018

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