Should you retake the ACT?

Should you retake the ACT?
Posted on 10/05/2015

Taming the “Test Retake Cyclops”

Back in the day, we took the ACT or SAT once. Not both tests, either—just one.

Nowadays, it is common for students to take an exam not just once or twice but three or four (or more!) times with the hopes that they will increase their scores. I’m picturing an angry Cyclops with that giant eyeball focused intently on that one desirable score.

The following statistics come right from the ACT and SAT websites.

Of the students who took the ACT more than once (see :

  • 57% increased their composite score
  • 21% had no change in their composite score
  • 22% decreased their composite score

Of the students who took the SAT more than once (see

  • 55% of juniors taking the test improved their scores as seniors
  • 10% had no change
  • 35% had score drops

Knowing those stats, along with the following info, can help students determine whether they should take a test again.

Maybe the student is a nervous test-taker. Maybe so nervous that he couldn’t sleep the night before, or that she couldn’t keep breakfast down and was super hungry during the test. Knowing exactly what to expect can make future test sessions more bearable.

If there was a death in the family or other significant life event that made testing nearly impossible, that’s a good reason for retakes.

Does the student want merit scholarships? Probably. Higher scores can mean more scholarship opportunities.

Retaking the test doesn’t ensure a higher score. But the chances of scoring higher will increase if the student does some type of prep work. Taking practice tests, signing up for a class, and/or reviewing test-taking strategies will be helpful.

Taking the ACT or SAT multiple times has become commonplace. Fortunately, Wisconsin students can take the statewide ACT test for free through their high school in the spring of their junior year. That fact alone helps students–and their parents—tame Cyclops.