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How Many Times Should You Take the SAT?

Students are often told contradicting things about how many times it’s okay to take the SAT  before it “looks bad.”

There are several things to consider when deciding on how many times you should take the SAT exam.

  • How much time have you put into preparation when you are retaking the exam?
  • How significantly have you improved?
  • How do the colleges you’re applying for evaluate your SAT scores?

answer sheet and pencilIt’s important to remember that the College Board submits all of your SAT and Subject Test scores whenever you send a score report to a college. However, most colleges have a policy of using your higher scores in their determination of your eligibility. Unless you have done extremely well and are trying to improve by a very small margin (from 780 to 800, for example), it’s unlikely that taking the SAT more than once will have a negative effect.

Colleges use SAT scores in different ways. Certain schools, such as University of California, take your best overall score from a single time that you took the SAT. Other colleges take the best scores from different exam dates. In either case, it doesn’t hurt you to retake the test to see if you can score better.

What’s the Magic Number?

For the majority of high schoolers, 3 seems to be the magic number when deciding how many times to take the SAT. Most students begin taking the SAT from the start of their sophomore year until the winter break of their senior year.

While taking the SAT several times is usually encouraged, it’s important to not overdo it. Not only is taking the SAT 7 or 8 times a waste of some perfectly good Saturday afternoons, it also looks bad to admissions officers.

When preparing for college and deciding how many times to take the SAT, use your common sense! Your scores are unlikely to vary drastically if you do nothing in between exams. After taking it the first time, spend some time going over the diagnostic report to see what your areas of weakness are. Once those are determined, study! Don’t be afraid to take the SAT several times if you feel like your scores are likely to improve, but know when to stop.

Good luck!

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