How Many Times Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

Monday, August 21, 2017

How many times take the sat or actStudents Should Avoid Taking College Entrance Exams Too Many Times

Junior year is a big testing year for college bound students, and as they prepare for the SAT or ACT many students might not be taking the test for the first time. It’s not uncommon for students to take the SAT or ACT multiple times, but how many times is too many?

It’s tempting for students to continue to take the SAT or ACT as many times as they can before they reach their goal score, however, this is a poor strategy as it can get expensive and after a while, if you’re not preparing the way you should, you won’t see much improvement in your scores.

It’s important for students to take a diagnostic of both the SAT or ACT before junior year in order to identify the exam that’s the best-fit for their abilities, and also to evaluate what they will need to work on before sitting for the real thing. A diagnostic can go a long way toward helping students make the most of their prep before taking the actual exam junior year, and, in turn, limit the number of times that they’ll have to retest.

At IvyWise, we advise students to take the SAT or ACT no more than twice, as scores tend to plateau after the second or third sitting. There are also factors to consider before taking college entrance exams multiple times.


Score Choice

Score Choice is when you can choose white test scores to send to colleges when applying. For example, if you set for the August SAT but didn’t perform well, some colleges will allow you to not include the scores from that sitting on your score report. Many colleges, however, do not honor score choice and will require applicants to send all scores from all sittings with their application.

This is why it’s important to only take the SAT or ACT when you’re really ready – colleges will probably see all your scores – including those that may not be that great because you went into the exam unprepared.

Test Prep Timeline

Another thing to consider when evaluating whether or not to take the SAT or ACT again is your testing timeline. In order to see any improvement in your scores the next time around, you need to create a test prep plan – whether that’s on your own or with a tutor – in order to address the areas where you’re weakest. Identifying sections or question types to work on is key to preforming better the next time you take the exam, and you need plenty of time to prep, reevaluate your progress, and adjust your strategy accordingly before the next sitting.

Test-Optional Colleges

If you’ve already taken the SAT or ACT twice and have seen little improvement in your scores, even after extensive preparation, it may be time to adjust your college admissions plan and look into test-optional or test-flexible colleges. These colleges place little or no emphasis on test scores, relying more on your grades and other “soft factors” for admission. This is a good option for students who have taken the SAT or ACT multiple times and haven’t been able to improve upon their scores.


Preparing for the SAT or ACT can be a big undertaking, so be sure you have taken a diagnostic and developed a solid test prep plan before sitting for the real exam. You only have a couple of opportunities to reach your goal score, so make sure to make the most of the time you have beforehand to plan and prepare.

Are you on track with your test prep? Download our free tutoring checklist below to find out!


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