The SAT Road Retaken

This tip for improving your SAT score was provided by Alicia Wei at Veritas Prep.

After running for five hours straight on a 26.2-mile course last year, I experienced excruciating joint pain and vowed never to sign up for a marathon again. For many students who are thinking of retaking the SAT, the feeling associated with it is very much akin to the dread of running another marathon. Fortunately, effective methods can help you manage this maladaptive psychological block.

Retaking the SAT is a really sweet deal, and here’s why. If an interview went awry, the interviewee is immediately dropped from consideration. If a student gets an unsatisfactory mark on her final worth 30 percent of her grade, she cannot retake the exam. Luckily, retaking the SAT to achieve a higher score is an available option for students.

Taking this test a second or third time is common practice. In fact, half the students attempt the SAT more than once—and achieving a higher score can be a significant factor in college admissions. For instance, the admissions rate at Princeton University is 9 percent, but almost 22 percent of students with SAT scores between 2300 and 2400 were admitted.

Certain risks, however, are involved in the decision to retake the SAT, and it is important to make an informed decision. Of the ones who chose to retake, 66 percent of students saw their score improve, 4 percent saw no change, and 30 percent saw a decrease, according to Leslie Sepuka, director of regional communications at the New York offices of the College Board. Furthermore, students were almost four times more likely to gain 100 or more points on critical reading or mathematics than to lose the same amount.

These risks can be mitigated with Score Choice, an optional service from the College Board that allows students to decide which scores to release to prospective colleges, and also with the common admissions policy to consider only the highest score for each section. Sitting through a second (or third) SAT is a great opportunity because the statistics are in the students’ favor.

Once a student has decided to retake the SAT after having considered the associated benefits and risks, she must keep a few things in mind to study intelligently and to manage anxiety and exhaustion. First, the student must figure out what went wrong with the first exam. Was the problem that she is a poor test taker? Then practice more proctored tests. Or was it using the wrong study method? There are plenty of choices here: private in person tutoring, Skype or FaceTime tutoring, physical or online classroom learning, and even self-study. Or was the issue having specific weaknesses in certain subjects? If pronouns in the writing sections were confusing, underline every pronoun until that grammar rule is understood. Or was it simply a lack of sufficient study time? In that case, prioritize the SAT and study.

A second tip to stay on track is to create a reasonable schedule. A few questions to answer are: When will the test be retaken? What went wrong, and what specific strategies and actions will lead to the greatest score improvement? Remember that including days of rest will help prevent burnout, especially if the student is prone to counterproductive anxiety. Although there are plenty of days during which an individual feels complacent or discouraged, studying for the SAT requires that the student possess discipline and strictly abide by her routine.

When preparing to retake the SAT, you need to recognize that even though individual moments may temporarily drag you down with unmet expectations and a loss of direction, the window between hope and fulfillment is a necessary struggle we all face. After you have attained your desired SAT score, this psychological and learning journey will give you the confidence to overcome even bigger obstacles in the future.

It was recently announced that major changes will be made to the SAT. To get a full overview of the changes coming to the SAT, click here.

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