How Many Times Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

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There is no maximum number of times that a student can attempt the SAT or ACT. The SAT is offered seven times a year and the ACT is offered six times a year. That being said, you do not necessarily want to sit for every test that is offered.

For one, it is unlikely that you will see a large change in your scores from one test to the next unless you do significant prep between the tests. So, it makes more sense to space out tests by 2-3 months. For the SAT, it would make sense to take a test in December and then re-test in March. Secondly, not only is it unlikely that you will see a significant change in scores but you will also get burnt out from so much testing and not see the scores you’d like as a result.

It is recommended that you take the first SAT with the intention of scoring the best you can in the first time around. You should not take the first SAT as a “test trial” because each SAT you take is recorded in your account at Collegeboard and some schools request the scores of every single SAT you have taken and not just the ‘superscore’.

Take the SAT a second time if you are deeply unsatisfied with your first score and believe that you can significantly improve your score by taking it a second time. Before taking the SAT a second time, ensure that you have a valid reason to believe your score can improve. For example, if you had a bad headache the first time you took the SAT and felt like that had severely affected your performance. Or if you had experienced an uncharacteristic case of nerves during the first SAT.

Another reason to take the SAT again is if it is directly related to whether or not you will be eligible to apply for academic scholarships. For example, if you took the test the first time but missed the cutoff score by 20 points. There are a set number of score ranges that correspond to different scholarship amounts and these ranges are generally known so make sure you have all this information before taking the SAT.

The general consensus is that twice is generally acceptable, especially if you can prove that your score did improve significantly. Taking the SAT three times is the absolute limit! Many colleges frown on you taking the SAT more than that. Moreover, there is no evidence that taking the SAT multiple times changes your score significantly. Most students take the SAT or ACT 2-3x each: two attempts during junior year and one during senior year, if needed.

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