Should I Retake the SAT?

Multiple choice test
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You took the SAT test, got your scores back, and did not manage to grab the score you were really counting on—the one your mother begged you to nab. Right now, you are deciding whether or not to cancel your SAT scores, go with what you have already produced or retake the SAT and start over from scratch. 

Taking the SAT the First Time

Most students opt to take the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year, and many of those students go on to take the SAT again in the fall of their senior year. Why? It allows them enough time to get the scores to universities in order to get an admissions decision before graduation. There are some, however, who start taking the SAT in middle school, just to see what they'll face when the real deal rolls around. It's your choice how often you take the exam; you'll have the best shot at scoring big on it, though, if you master all of your high school course work prior to testing.

Statistics About SAT Retakes

If you've taken the SAT the spring of your junior year or even the fall of your senior year and you're just not happy with the results, should you retake the test the next administration? Will it even help? Here are some statistics provided by the College Board that can help you answer that question:

  • 55 percent of juniors taking the test improved their scores as seniors.
  • 35 percent had score drops.
  • 10 percent had no change.
  • The higher a student's scores as a junior, the more likely that student's subsequent scores will drop.
  • The lower the initial scores, the more likely the scores will go up.
  • On average, juniors repeating the SAT as seniors improved their combined critical reading, mathematics, and writing scores by approximately 40 points.
  • About 1 in 25 gained 100 or more points on critical reading or mathematics, and about 1 in 90 lost 100 or more points.

So, Should I Retake it Or Not?

Yes! Remember that the only real risk you carry with retaking your SAT is paying the price for the additional test, which can certainly be daunting to some. If you retake the SAT and decide that you've probably done worse than you did the first time, you can use Score Choice and choose NOT to report those scores at all, or you can even cancel your scores and they won't appear on any score reports—anywhere. If you choose NOT to retake the SAT, though, you're stuck with the scores you have. And if you didn't arm yourself with good SAT prep options previously, retaking the SAT is your chance to do it right the next time around.

Prepare Before You Retake the SAT

If you decide to go ahead and take the plunge, do some serious prep work this time, okay? Study your SAT prep options. Decide if you need more than just an SAT app or SAT test prep book—a tutor or prep course will often come with a guarantee! Make sure you do these important things the night before the SAT and don't be afraid to take as many SAT practice tests as is possible. It'll help you get used to the format of the test and can show the areas on which you should focus.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "Should I Retake the SAT?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Roell, Kelly. (2023, April 5). Should I Retake the SAT? Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "Should I Retake the SAT?" ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).