Can you take these tests too many times?
Students can certainly retake these tests to improve their scores, but within reason! Most students will take the test three to four times, and this is perfectly okay as long as they are improving with each retake. If your student finds themselves plateauing, they should consider studying in a different way or taking a different type of test (for instance, switching to the ACT if their SAT is not improving). A study by the College Board found that most students do not improve after taking a test the third time. The study also found that students tended to perform better if they spaced each retake at least two months apart, giving themselves sufficient time to address problem areas on their previous attempt.
In the past, students needed to be more strategic about their retakes because ALL scores would be submitted to the colleges. However, colleges are increasingly offering Score Choice, which allows students to pick the scores they’d like to submit. For instance, if a student takes the SAT three times and does poorly on the first two tests, that student can choose to submit only the third test on which they scored well. For colleges that do NOT offer Score Choice, however, you will have to submit all scores and therefore the school will see your results from all attempts.
Some colleges offer Superscore, allowing a student to submit their best scores across multiple sittings (for example, a student could submit only their reading score from the August SAT, and only their math score from the October SAT). While this does offer students greater flexibility, it is NOT recommended to focus studying on one section at the expense of the others.
Do you have any tips for how I should approach these tests?
1. At the core, effort is essential to raising your score! Students who put in the time to review their problem areas on previous attempts, and to study the material whether on their own or with the help of an academy, do better than students who do not put in this effort. With that being said…
2. PREPARE! There is no substitute for practice. Students should start preparation as early as possible. We recommend our students to take a practice SAT and and a practice ACT during their freshman year of high school so they can get an idea of which test they are more comfortable with, and tailor their preparation efforts accordingly.
3. Focus on the types of questions you get wrong, and try to identify patterns.
4. Never make the same mistake twice — understand why the wrong answer is incorrect, and what strategies you can use to answer the question correctly the next time.
5. Create a dream college list early on, and know what scores they require. This allows you to create a “roadmap” to guide your preparation.
6. Know when tests are coming up, and what tests are required for your specific situation.
Whatever questions you have about standardized testing and how you can best prepare, our experienced counselors are here to help!
Whether you need help identifying which tests you need to take, or creating a customized testing roadmap and study plan,
we can work with you to ensure that you are equipped with the tools you need to navigate these tests efficiently and effectively!