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When to Retake the ACT

It’s that time of year when seniors are wondering if they should retake the ACT. The scores from the September 21 exam were released on October 7, so there’s a lot of buzz in the air about what to do next if the new scores weren’t so good.

Before you register for another ACT exam, please review the list of colleges where you’re applying. Review the college’s stance on multiple exams. Some colleges frown upon multiple test-taking. The rule of thumb at those colleges may be no more than 1-2 retakes. If it’s still not clear whether it’s worth retaking the exam again . . . consider these two scenarios:

1. Do any of the colleges on your list superscore the ACT? – Superscoring means that the college will take the highest subscore across your different test dates, then recalculate your composite score. If that’s the case, then a retake may be in order.

2. Do any of the college where you’re applying offer merit awards (i.e. money to pay for college) based on the test score? There are many colleges that will offer additional scholarship dollars based on your ACT score. It may benefit you to retake the test as many times as you’d like to increase your score to the next threshold.

After this is said and done, sometimes your score is what it is. After taking the ACT two or three times, your score is more likely to remain where it is, especially if you’re not preparing any differently.

My recommendation: If it’s more important for you to “prove” to someone else that you can get a better score, then it’s probably not worth the time, money, and effort. You are so much more than your test score. There are plenty of colleges that do not even require a test score to apply. Stick with the score you have and keep your head up!


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This blog is valued by busy parents of college-bound teens. The topics covered in these posts are mined from years of listening to parents talk about their dreams for their children’s education.

This blog is written from the heart… as it’s my passion and life calling!

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