3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Will Colleges See And Care How Many Times I Take The SAT?

I am currently a freshman in high school, but am still a bit worried about testing. I'm planning to take the SAT for the first time during the spring or summer before my junior year. However, if the amount of times I take the SAT could lower my chances of acceptance, I'm wondering if I should be taking the SAT later on after I learn more math concepts. Should I push back my planned test date?

@anonymousems3 years ago

Yes, I think you should push back your test date. Most people who take the SAT before starting JR year end up with a bad score simply because they havent been exposed to the material. Even if you are using a content prep like khan academy, the earliest I would recommend taking it is fall of your Junior year, that way you have time to take it one or two more times if you aren't happy with your score.

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Accepted Answer
3 years ago

Colleges actually do care how many times you take the SAT or ACT. There are a number of reasons why.

1.) Since it is well known that the ability to test prep well and pay and take standardized tests is a proxy for entitlement that is associated with high net worth families, if you take either test say 5 or 6 times, most colleges would consider you as someone wealthy enough to game the system. Given our current global pandemic and the high probability of test cancellations, only someone with means $$$, could practically plan and take the SAT or ACT 5 or 6 times.

2.) Given that it also well known that the content on the SAT and ACT is not very complicated or difficult to say compared to AP Chem or AP Physics, we can accept that the success or failure is perhaps 25-33% content and 66%-75% how well you know how to take the test given a time constraint. So if you are willing to put in the hundreds of hours, you should be getting higher and higher scores on each official test. However, if you take it more than 3 or 4 times, I truly believe colleges will also think of you as trying to game the system for that extra 10 or 20 points. Therefore, it would be much better to take 10 practice tests and fewer actual tests than to use the actual tests as practice or learning tests.

3.) In the opinion of admission officers, if they review say 2 applications, 1 from a BIPOC low-income student and 1 from a NE Boarding School say they both have 1500 SAT scores. If the BIPOC student could only take the test 1 time in school either because of cancellations or money problems and the other student took it 4 times, twice in 11th grade and twice in 12th grade, it would be no surprise to anyone on here that the BIPOC student looks like a stronger candidate because they walked in cold and got 1500 while perhaps the other student's actual hidden scores were 1320, 1380, 1460 before the got 1500 which perhaps was a super score. In this hyper-competitive environment, colleges always want the students that are innately bright and talented versus the kids who use tutors, test prep consultants and have the resources to spend that much time and money on a test.

In your case, I would not take the official SAT as a practice test or earlier than you need to. It would be much better to take a lot of practice tests say once a week during the summer and track your improvement. Most practice tests are past tests. Also, use a stopwatch and a mask and do it in a quiet space all by yourself to mimic the test conditions. If your goal score is 1400 or 1500, then keep grinding on the books and test prep and practice tests until you are scoring either 1400 or 1500. In my experience, do not expect to score higher than your practice tests on test day because a.) it's stressful, b.) you are rarely on your A-game on test day, and c.) you don't know what kind of curveball they are going to throw at you. Either the Math section will be hard or the English section will be hard, you just don't know. Your final composite score will depend on how they curve the test results. Sometimes if you miss 1 answer on the Math you get docked 30 pts, 2 say 50 pts and 3 say 70 pts if the Math section is easy. If the Math section is hard, then you might only lose 30 points for getting 2 answers wrong or 50 pts off for 4 wrong answers.

While you are doing this keep in mind that you will want to get a high PSAT score if you are thinking you want to get a Merit Scholarship. To get either the Semifinalist or Finalist awards you need to score in the 99%+ range which is generally 1460-1520 out of 1520. There is not much room for mistakes, maybe 2-3 total mistakes on the whole test. While the PSAT and SAT are very similar, they are not identical. So you will find yourself having to take both kinds of practice tests to do well on both of them.

Since the best schools now have up to 50% more applicants, this is forcing admit rates lower say to the 3-7% range from the previous 5-10% range so many HS students do not know that the best schools are 25%-75% more difficult to get into. Therefore how you use your time to prepare and what you submit really matters more than ever. Colleges know they only have a limited amount of space and that is not going to change soon. These comments are not only for yourself but anyone who is in 9th, 10th and 11th grade preparing for standardized tests.

Good luck

3 years ago

No, colleges do not care about how many times you take the SAT! From what others have told me, as long as your score is high, that is what they'll focus on. If colleges do look at your past scores, they'll see how your score (hopefully) got higher each time, and it tells them you have lots of dedication and self-improvement! Hope this helps :)

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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