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Should I Take the Test Multiple Times?

Here’s what the College Board has to say; “Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year in high school. At least half of all students take the SAT twice—in the spring of their junior year and in the fall of their senior year. Most students also improve their score the second time around.” ACT, Inc. is a bit milder in their recommendation, stating that you should test again “if you had any problems during testing, such as misunderstanding the directions, running out of time, or not feeling well,” or “if you don’t believe that your scores accurately represent your abilities.”

You shouldn’t trust either organization on this question. They both make extra cash when you sign up again, $52.50 for the College Board and either $38.00 or $54.50 (depending on whether you take the Writing section) for ACT, Inc.

The College Board is undeniably right when they say that most students improve their scores on the second time around. But the reasons for this are variable and ambiguous. Some students may not have adequately prepared for their first test, and after a disappointing performance decided to put in a lot of work. Many students take the test the first time just to try it out, without doing even a single practice test, thinking that they might not need a lot of preparation. Sometimes an anxiety attack ruins a student’s first test, and the second one goes smoothly. The second-time improvement statistic doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t achieve your score potential with one try.

At Top Test Prep, we believe that you should approach your first attempt as if it’s your last and only chance. If you prepare correctly the first time, you shouldn’t need another attempt, and you won’t have to waste your time on one. Of course if you do encounter some problem like the ones that ACT, Inc. lists—such as feeling suddenly and violently ill on test day, perhaps vomiting on your test booklet—then you should make another attempt. But you shouldn’t be planning on it when you go into the test the first time, and you shouldn’t be beguiled into a two-test program by the promise of improvement.

Still, go with the masses in terms of test dates. The real reason to take the test in the spring of your junior year is that you’ll get it out of the way relatively early. Especially on the SAT, which deals with more basic math, there won’t be anything on the test that you haven’t covered in school by the end of your junior year.

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