Why You Should Take the ACT More than Once

Tyson Schritter

The Second Time (or even the Third!) is the Charm:

Yes, we know that taking the ACT can be a nail-biting, stressful experience. After all, there’s a lot riding on the results. But often, the first time you take the test, you’re not at your best. It’s early, it’s Saturday, and most likely you’re taking the ACT in a school you have never visited. It’s all so foreign and new, that it’s no wonder your first test scores might not be what you had hoped. The good news is that you can take the ACT again—plenty of juniors (and seniors!) do it. There’s no shame in taking the test multiple times. And the odds are good that you will score better the next time you take the ACT. Here are a few reasons why you may want to take the ACT more than once:

More time to practice and prepare for the ACT:

Maybe you took an ACT prep course before your first test, or maybe you decided to wing it. Once you have your scores, you can pinpoint those areas in which you need a little extra practice and prep. Some high schools have ACT prep classes either built into their curriculum or after school. Take advantage of the convenience of test prep offered at your high school, if it’s available. Or, buy an ACT prep guide with practice exams, and take the ACT under the same time constraints as the actual exam.

You’ll be less nervous:

The first time you take the ACT, there’s the fear of the unknown. You’re jittery, and there’s a lot of hype about the importance of your score for college admission. Once you’ve taken the test, you know what to expect—how long it really takes to finish, the type of questions, and which sections will require a little more of your time. So the second time you take the ACT, you’ll have more confidence. And you’ll know that your parents really weren’t kidding when they said you should get a good night’s sleep and not skip breakfast!

You’ll be a better test-taker:

After you take the ACT once, you’ll have a better understanding of the time constraints and how to pace yourself. If you don’t know the answer to a question, move on and come back later if you have time. On difficult questions, the process of elimination is the most effective tool.  Remember, the ACT does not count wrong answers against you. Only correct answers are used to determine one’s composite score.

Raise your ACT score and your scholarship opportunities:

According to the College Board, 57% of high school students take the ACT, and nearly 60% of those who retake the exam will see an increase in their composite scores. And a higher test score can mean more scholarship opportunities and better financial aid packages offered to you. Check with the admissions offices of the colleges to which you’re applying, and ask which test scores qualify to be considered for additional aid.

More choices:

When you take the ACT more than once, you get to choose which scores to send along with your college applications. If you’re on the wait list at your top choice, sending higher test scores may help the admissions office move you onto the accepted list. And higher scores might open up new possibilities—schools that may have been previously out of reach maybe worth an application.

So sign up for the ACT in your junior year, and plan to take it at least once more. You’ll be glad you did!

More Helpful Guides:

Which is Right for You: SAT or ACT?

The Top 6 College Search Websites

A New Kind of College Entrance Exam

Making the Most of College Fairs


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