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Career Development

Retaking the SAT: Is it a Good Idea?

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Writing the SAT

Writing the SAT is difficult and stressful, so it is no surprise that many students find that the pressure of writing the exam and the challenging questions lead to a disappointing result. Luckily, the College Board, the organization responsible for running the SAT, allows students to retake the test. Many colleges also will either take a student’s best SAT result, or will average the two to obtain a composite score. A second SAT attempt is an excellent opportunity to obtain a more desirable result.

Many students writing the SAT for the first time find it an unpleasant experience, to say the least. In my own experience, frantically writing the sections of the exam, retrieving snacks during the ridiculously short breaks, and trying to cram an entire essay into 25 minutes was an exhausting experience. On the second attempt, many students find that the situation is a bit less difficult, since they know what to expect going into the exam. Many people find the extra experience very useful when it comes to forming an exam writing pace, and maintaining effective mental concentration. The familiar surroundings also lead to greater comfort in the environment of the test, which leads to reduced stress, and usually a better result.

Will a Second Attempt Make a Difference?

Since most people first write the SAT as a junior or even younger, it is possible to make very significant academic improvement during the period of time between the first SAT write and the second. The first result often exposes weaknesses in a student’s academic performance, which can be rectified through tutoring, independent SAT study, or additional schoolwork in the subject. According to the College Board, 55% of juniors taking the test improved their scores as seniors, and 10% had no significant change. These figures may seem underwhelming, but in reality, the higher an individual’s first score, the more likely it is to drop, and the lower an individual’s first score, the more likely it is to increase. This means that many of the drops in score are due to a failure of preparation, since people become complacent in their ability to perform well. Also, on average, juniors repeating the SAT as seniors had on average a 40 point increase in their total score.

So, is it worthwhile to retake the SAT?

If a student is not happy with their score, the answer is most definitely yes. However, if a student already has a strong result, it is most likely not necessary, but if they are willing to put in a great deal of work to increase their result, it could still be beneficial. One in twenty-five students manage to increase their score by more than 100 points on their second attempt, according to the College Board. These students put in a great deal of work to succeed, but they are proof that it is possible to make huge improvements!

This article was written for you by Tobias, one of the tutors with Test Prep Academy.

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