The average score that students aim for on the SAT is around 1400. If your score is below that, then you may feel you should give the lengthy test another try. There are good reasons to retake the SAT. There are also quite a few good reasons not to retake the test, depending on your score and academic or career goals.
How Many Times Can the SAT be Retaken?
Unlike the ACT, you may take the SAT as many times as you please. Retaking the test takes a commitment to study at length before sitting down and going through the hours-long test yet again for a minor bump at best in your score. Be prepared to commit to the fees and time it takes to retake this intensive college prep test.
Average Increase of SAT Retake Score
Most students who retook the SAT after months of cramming improved their score. The average increase in SAT scores a second time was about 90 points on the high end and a little more than 20 points on the low end of the spectrum.
SAT Retake Penalty
There is no true SAT retake penalty for taking the test over and over again. However, if your score improves significantly it can raise a red flag.
If you have taken the SAT more than a half dozen times, it may work against you. Even if you significantly improve your score over the handful of times that you have taken it, colleges may look at your continued test taking and regard it as a strike against your otherwise solid application.
Each college will have its own rules and policies about looking at your best SAT score or requiring all of your SAT scores. Make sure you have this information before you repeatedly sit down to take the test.
When to Hire a Coach
Studies have found that it is beneficial to hire a coach to assist in your studies for the SAT when attempting to increase your overall score. Private SAT prep classes can raise your score by 60 points or more.
Uncoached students retaking the SAT typically increased their score by about 20 points for verbal and around 30 points on the math portion. Those who had private tutoring and consistent coaching built their confidence as well as their scores on each subject on the SAT.
Why Retake the SAT?
It’s not always necessary to retake the SAT if you aren’t satisfied with your score. Many colleges will accept an SAT score that is somewhere above 800 and below 1200. Colleges look at much more than just one test score when considering a student for admission.
Aside from an SAT score, college admission officials look at:
- Grade Point Average
- Community Service
- Awards or Certificates of Excellence
- Extra-curricular Activities
If the college of your choice requires a high SAT score, you may want to retake the test. Just remember that they do look at more than the SAT when considering applicants.
When Not to Retake an SAT
Check the college guidelines of the university you hope to attend. They may not require SAT scores at all or have a reputation for admitting students with a low SAT score.
If you are applying to scholarships, check with each that falls within your academic, dramatic or athletic areas of interest for the SAT requirements. Scholarships are often based on merit or ability and may not require an SAT score or use it as a small factor in a larger overview of what qualifies an applicant to receive the scholarship.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.