Take Two: Should You Retake the SAT or ACT?

In some situations, a second try is the key to success. No matter how hard I try, I always burn the first pancake I make, my first throws in bowling are usually gutterballs (to be fair, most of my second tries are as well), and in my humble opinion, Toy Story 2 was even better than the first. What about taking the SAT, ACT or CLT–is the second try the charm?

According to The College Board and the ACT, over 50% of students who retake the test will improve their score. Also, improvement tends to be greater for those with the lowest scores. So if you’ve only taken the SAT or ACT once and your scores were lower than expected, you should consider giving it another try. Many schools, including Grove City, “Superscore,” taking the highest section scores from two (or more) tests, giving you the best total possible score!

Still unsure? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

clt logo

Should I take a different exam?

This depends on your subject strengths and comfort levels. The ACT has a science section while the SAT does not. The SAT’s Math section provides formulas for students, though includes more problem solving and data analysis compared to the ACT’s straightforward math equations, without formulas given. The CLT is geared towards students with a classical education background and experience studying ethics and classic texts. Taking practice tests online may help you figure out which format and content is best suited to your strengths. If your score on one test is pretty close to your goal, it would probably be best to retake that same test with an intentional strategy for improvement and avoid having to learn a new exam format.

Do I have a plan to help prepare myself? sat prep
You’ll likely feel better about your second try simply because you know what to expect, but that shouldn’t be the only difference! If you’re going to retake the test, be sure that you take the time to adequately prepare. Make weekly study plans leading up to the second exam, find a tutor, or take a preparation class over the summer. Take advantage of the resources at your local library, school, or community center. You’ll be able to walk into the second test even more confidently because you’ve taken steps to improve rather than coasted on the fact that you’ve taken it before.


Will my scholarship chances increase with a higher score?
While some schools require test score minimums for scholarship consideration, many scholarships are awarded based on a more holistic approach to evaluating a student—taking into account not only those numbers, but also your involvement, leadership roles, service, and grades. If you’re close to the minimum or right around a college’s average, it could be worth paying a small test fee to boost your chances of receiving thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Learn more about Grove City College’s scholarships and approach to financial aid here.

keep calm


Hopefully this helps dispel some anxiety you may have about choosing whether or not to retake your exam.
If you’re happy with your scores, that’s fine! However, if you would like to shoot for a higher score, you have nothing to lose.
Prepare, relax, and give it the old college try!

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