For many high school students and for their families, knowing how many times one can take the SAT is a legitimate question to ask regardless of how well the student performs in his or her classes and in the first SAT he or she took. After all, knowing how many times one can take the SAT can spell the difference between getting accepted to a good college and not being able to go to college at all.
Taking the test once may be enough for one student but there are those who might need to take it more than twice. Cutting to the chase, you can take the SAT for as many times as possible. There are no restrictions as to the number of times you can take it. As long as you can, the College Board will not prevent you from taking it again. Time, perhaps, is your only constraint.
That said, if you could actually take the SAT more than once or even more than a couple of times, are there compelling reasons why you should do so in the first place? Why would anyone want to take that standardized test twice or even three or four times? Well, here are the things you have to look at first before actually thinking about taking the SAT as many times as you can.
Why Would You Retake the SAT in the First Place?
If you do not know yet, there really are no failing scores in the SAT. No matter how bad you think you performed in the SAT, you will not be given a failing mark. Instead, the SAT puts you on a scale based on your score. The scale will show you how you performed as compared to the other students who took the standardized test as well. And when you are applying for colleges, they will not judge your admission based on passing or failing marks in the SAT but will use their own standards to assess your performance in that standardized test.
So, if there are no passing or failing marks in the SAT, why would you even take it again in the first place? Here are the things you need to know as to why there are reasons to retake the SAT:
1. There are good and bad scores
While it is true that you do not get failing scores in the SAT and that you are assessed based on the standards of the college and in comparison to the other students who took the test, there are such things as good and bad scores. You may not have had a failing grade in Math, for example, but you may have ended with a score that did not really measure up well with the others who took the standardized test. In that case, you may have performed badly in that test, which will affect your scaling and how colleges will assess your application.
So, if you happen to performed badly in the first time you took the SAT, you can make up for the poor scores you had by doing well in the second (or even the third) time you take the standardized test.
2. Allows you to build experience
Knowing how to study for the SAT is one thing but the actual SAT is another thing. No matter how many sample and practice tests you took, there really is no exact substitute for the real SAT. Even though you performed really well in the practice tests during your review for the SAT, you may perhaps see the actual test as an entirely different monster especially if you consider not only how difficult the questions are but also the time pressure that comes with taking it. Even the smartest and most well-reviewed students can perform badly in the SAT if they happen to find that it actually is more difficult than the practice tests.
In that case, it is normal to perform badly in the SAT in your first time taking it because you really do not have any experience or any idea about it. That is why taking it a second time may be a good idea. Because of how you can build on the experience you garnered in the first take, you can perform a lot better in the subsequent takes as you already know what to expect and how to handle the pressure better.
3. Improve your past test scores
This is one of the main reasons why you should even think about taking the SAT more than once. When you have already built up on the experience of taking the SAT the first time (or the second time), there is a really good chance that you will get a better score when you take it again. And when you do well in the subsequent SATs you took, you will be able to reach your target score.
The really great thing about the SAT is that retaking it and getting better scores in the subsequent times you take it is that it does not always matter that you took it more than once except in cases where your college of choice superscores all of your SATs. In most cases, colleges only ask you to send your best score. So, as long as you are learning from your mistakes and improving your scores, then there is no reason why you should not take the SAT again.
4. To reach the academic requirement for scholarships
Whether you are a hardworking student who likes shuffling his or her time with academic and extra-curriculars or an athlete hoping to become eligible to play college-level sports, most colleges require a certain SAT score for you to qualify for academic or athletic scholarships. So if you struggled to get the minimum score for the scholarship of your chosen college, you can take it as many times as possible until you score well.
What is Recommended for the Maximum Times to Take the SAT?
If you can take the SAT for an unlimited number of times or for as long as you can possibly do so, is it necessarily a good idea to keep on taking this standardized test over and over again until you get the best score possible? Well, there is something as too many attempts. It is never recommended that you take the SAT more times than you can count.
That said, there are a lot of reasons why there is a maximum number of times you should take the SAT. First of all, taking it over and over again is only really a waste of time and money. You could have used the time you reviewed and the money you spent for the test for other important things in your life and for activities and credentials that could have improved your college application as there are a lot of colleges that base their decision on your admission on plenty of factors other than your SAT score.
The second reason why there should be a maximum number of times to retake the SAT may be the more crucial reason as to why you should limit your takes. If you took the SAT a lot of times, colleges might not count the improvements you made especially after your third take. In that regard, no matter how high you have scored in your fifth take, your college of choice might not see it as something too impressive of an accomplishment because you needed to take the SAT five times to get there.
All things considered, the recommended maximum takes for the SAT should be three. The first take should be enough for you to gauge yourself and to earn some experience. Meanwhile, the second and third takes should be aimed at improving your overall score on the SAT. In that case, there really should be no reason to take it a fourth time.
In some cases, a fourth time might be good especially if your goal is to focus on one or two subjects at a time every time you take the SAT. Some students use that as a strategy because there will be colleges that only look at your best test scores per subject regardless of how many times you took the SAT. However, it still is not recommended that you take it more than three or four times.
Do Colleges See How Many Times You Took the SAT?
This is one of the trickiest parts of your college application and your decision to take the SAT more than a couple of times. There is no exact answer as to this question because it really depends on the college you are applying for and even on your school. Some colleges would only require you to send the SAT scores you want to send them while there are those that will require you to send all of your SAT scores. There are also high schools that send all of your SAT scores to the requesting college.
However, another thing that is worthy to note here is that most colleges will only require you to send the SAT scores that you want. That means that taking the SAT three or more times would hardly matter so long as you see that your scores are improving. This thins out the competition and will allow you to improve your chances of getting admitted so long as the college you applied for will not ask you how many times you took the SAT and for your other SAT scores. Such colleges that do not require you to send all of your scores usually give more weight on other factors when it comes to your application. However, in some cases, colleges use superscoring instead of score choice.
What is Superscoring and Why is it Important?
So you took the SAT three times and then ended up with Math as your highest score in the first time, Writing and Language in the second take, and then Reading in the third take. However, in all of your three takes, the other sections suffered so that you can do well in the one that you aced. Is such a situation really bad for you? Well, it depends if your college of choice superscores your test scores instead of letting you choose the score you want to submit.
Superscoring is when some colleges ask you to submit all of your SAT scores regardless of how many times you took it so that they can assess you fairly across all of your takes. Most colleges that practice superscoring will take the highest test scores in all of your takes and will consider those in your application. So, if you were to take the SAT three times, the college admissions board of your chosen school will look at all of your scores in those three takes and will consider the highest ones per section.
If a student knows that his or her chosen college practices superscoring, they tend to take the SAT at least three times while focusing on one area or section in each take so that they can get the highest scores possible in all three sections in three different takes. And when their college superscores their SAT scores, they will only consider those three scores regardless of whether they were achieved in a single take or in three different takes. So if you happen to know that the college you chose practices superscoring, it might be a good idea to take the SAT more than a couple of times.
Sounds good, right? Well, superscoring is not always a good thing. That is because colleges will know for a fact how many times you took the SAT since you actually sent them all of your test scores. So if you took it six times to achieve high scores, there is a chance that the college will not really see it as an achievement considering the fact that you needed to take the SAT six times just to perform well. In that regard, if your chosen school superscores, the recommended number of takes should be about three or four times while focusing on one section in each of those takes.
Why You Shouldn’t Take the SAT Too Many Times?
1. The SAT should not be your sole focus
The one main reason why you should not take the SAT too many times is that it is not your only focus. In addition to preparing for the SAT, you also have schoolwork to do. You have to do well in your finals, your extra-curriculars, and in your chosen clubs or sports. In that regard, taking the SAT more than three times may take too much of your time and energy. It is not only a waste of time but also a waste of money as well. Your time and your money could have been spent wisely in some other endeavor that could help your college application.
2. It’s too much of a hassle
No matter how smart of a student you are or how well you handle stress and pressure, the SAT is such a hassle especially if you take it more than twice. Going through the process of preparing for the SAT and actually taking it will put too much stress and pressure on you that all you can think of is to just get it over with. No student should ever go through such an ordeal multiple times in a year.
Your SAT study schedule is not something you can simply disregard. It will take a lot of your time and you will not have any more time and energy to do other things that are important to your personal life as well as to your college application. As such, it will be too much of a hassle on your part to keep on retaking the SAT.
3. You’re going to end up not taking the tests seriously
If you are already planning on taking the SAT more than three or four times, there is a really good chance that you will end up not taking all of the tests seriously because you will be thinking at the back of your mind that you still have a chance to take it again and improve your test scores.
4. It is not the most important part of your college application
Depending on the school you chose, the general consensus is that your SAT scores are not the most important part of your admission. College admissions committees always look at things from a holistic point of view by factoring in a lot of considerations such as your actual high school grades, your extra-curriculars, and your standing as an athlete. Focusing on the SAT too much will only make you forget to do well in all of the other factors as well.
5 Things to Consider When Thinking of Retaking the SAT?
Here are the things you should first ask yourself before thinking of retaking the SAT:
- Did I learn enough in my first take to actually improve in my next takes?
- Do I really know how to study for the SAT so that I no longer need to retake too many times?
- Does my college of choice practice superscoring or can I send them my scores of choice?
- Do I have enough time to actually prepare for a second or a third take?
- Is there a good chance that I will be able to improve my score in my subsequent takes?
Wrapping Up Things: How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?
All things considered, the one main takeaway here is that you have an unlimited number of takes when it comes to the SAT. But just because you can take it as many times as possible it does not mean that you should actually do so. Like all things, you have to limit your takes or else it will end up becoming detrimental not only to your college application but also to your life as a student.
Taking the SAT three or four times may be your best bet if you believe that you won’t be able to get the best scores you can possibly get in your first two takes. The SAT is not the end-all of your college admission. In that case, you should not rely on it too much and you should not pour all of your efforts into the SAT when you are planning to apply for your college of choice.
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