How Many Times Should I Take The SAT?

The Short Answer:

Probably twice, three times max. Scores tend not to improve substantially after the third test.

The Long Answer:

Since score choice was re-implemented in January of 2008, the answer to this questions has become somewhat less clear. While in theory a student can take the SAT an unlimited number of times and only send his or her best scores, doing so poses several dangers. First, scores do not generally improve after the third time a student takes the test. While students can raise their scores up to several hundred points in each section through intensive prepping, few are able to raise their scores simply by taking the test repeatedly. While familiarity with the exam is important, developing the fundamental skills necessary to succeed on it is considerably more so.

Which leads me to point number two... The test is the test and should not be treated as practice. No, students do not need to send their scores if they do poorly, an option that goes a long way toward relieving stress; however, in my experience, this can lead to an overly casual attitude -- if students feel that they can take the test repeatedly, they can easily become less motivated to score well initially and less motivated to study. After all, there's always another chance... Before long, it's too late.

Finally, some schools may require applicants to ignore score choice altogether and submit all of their scores. Since colleges generally give applicants the benefit of the doubt and only consider their highest scores on each section, this should not make much of a difference. But if a college sees that an applicant has taken the test four or five times... Whether or not they admit it, that's not going to help anyone's case for admission.


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