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The SAT, like the ACT, is one of those test that may determine if you get into the college you want to get into. You want to be able to score as high as you can so that your options aren’t limited. Luckily, you can take the test as many times as you want. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study, especially if you are taking it a second or third time. If you are thinking about retaking the SAT, here are some tips.

1. When should you retake the SAT?

Sometimes it makes sense to retake the SAT for a higher score, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on your particular situation and what schools you want to get into. In fact, a lot of students initially plan on taking the SAT twice anyway, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea. If you do end up taking the test twice, you learn what kind of questions are on the test and will prepare you for the limited amount of time given for each section. That knowledge alone will do wonders as the SAT can catch a lot of students off guard the first time around.

You probably already know by now what range of score your potential schools require, but if you don’t be sure to look on college’s admissions website or call the admissions office to find out. If you didn’t score high enough to get in, it’s time to hit the books.

Another reason you should retake the SAT is if scoring higher allows you to get a better financial aid package or qualify you for more scholarships. Even if you are planning on taking student loans or have your tuition covered, getting scholarships on top of everything else will do wonders for lowering financial stress later on down the road. Never turn down the potential to get more money.

2. How much do you need to raise it by?

Depending on how much you need to raise it by, it may not be realistic to retake the SAT. It really depends on how much motivation and time you have to study. Scoring 50 or so more points is definitely possible, for example, but if you studied hard when you took it the first time and need to score 300-400 more to reach your target score, it may not be realistic. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, just be upfront about your expectations.

When you are first applying for schools, take a look at the average SAT scores nationwide and the average scores for the colleges you want to get into. After you have taken the test the first time, do it again and reassess your situation. Not everyone will be able to get into Harvard, and there is nothing wrong with that.

3. Do you have enough time to study?

If you are planning on raising your scores by a significant amount, you need to be sure you have enough time to study. And even if you only want to raise it by a little bit, you will get a whole new set of questions the second time around, so you’ll have to study and take practice tests anyway.

Make sure that you give yourself enough time to digest the information and understand the questions better than you did before. This can take a lot of work, so don’t underestimate the work involved.

4. How should you prepare?

After deciding that you want to retake the SAT, get started working towards your goals right away. Don’t procrastinate. SATs are only scheduled at specific times and you want to be ready when that time comes.

Take a look at your comprehensive scores and see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You want to focus on your weaknesses more than your strengths, but you don’t want to completely leave out studying your strengths either. The questions will be somewhat like they were the second time, but they won’t be exactly the same.

Whether or not you are great at studying and have confidence in yourself to do what it takes, it is nearly always beneficial to hire a tutor or take an SAT prep class. Likewise, try buying different test prep books and techniques than you did before. In the end, work smarter not harder. Use every technique and tool in your arsenal to reach the highest score you can.