Test Prep

When Should I Retake the ACT?

The first thing that anyone asking this question should know is that there is absolutely no risk in re-taking the ACT test. Colleges only consider your highest test scores, so if you do worse on the test the second time around, you can still use the scores from the first test. Many students take the test at least twice; once in their junior year and once in their senior year.

For most students, taking the test at least twice is a good idea. Certainly this means more studying, paying another testing fee and going through the stress of test-taking a second time, but it is often worth it. Going into the test a second time, you have a better idea of what to expect and have some direct experience with taking the actual test. In the end, regardless of whether you got a better score on the first test or the second, you have two scores, and you can send the best one to colleges.

What if you have taken the test twice already and are still considering a retake? It’s important to consider the reason you’d like to take the test again and why you think you’d do better if given the opportunity to take it again. We all have off-days. Perhaps you were feeling ill or tired or just didn’t quite understand the test directions. In these cases it might be a good idea to retake the test. If your ACT scores did not live up to your expectations, based on the practice tests you took or even your grades in high school, then this might be a reason to retake. Perhaps you did poorly on one section of the test and think you can study more and get a better score; that is also an excellent reason to re-take the test.

Improving Your Score by Retaking

According to ACT, over half of the students who take the test a second time do better on the second test than they did on the first. However, ACT also notes that the higher your score is on a test, the less likely it is that you will improve that score by taking the test again. If you have taken the test twice, have a good score, and you are satisfied that your score truly represents your academic ability on a good day given your history as a student, then it is less likely that you will significantly improve your score by taking it three or more times.

No matter when you decide to retake the ACT, remember that colleges only consider your highest scores (though they will have access to all your previous scores), and that you can retake the ACT as many times as you think necessary.

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