Should I retake the ACT? It’s not a simple yes or no question, unfortunately. There are a few other questions you need to answer for yourself first.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself before answering “should I retake the ACT?”
Use these basic ACT hacks to prepare for your future retest.
What Is Your Target Score?
The first question you need to ask yourself is how far away is your target score?
Every student should set a target score range for both college applications and scholarship requirements. If, after your first attempt, you’re only 1-2 points away from your dream score, then don’t seriously stress it.
Chances are good that there are other aspects of your applications that can balance things out. However, if you’re 5 to 10 to 20 points away, then it’s definitely time to consider taking another crack.
Moreover, if you show that much score improvement, admissions officers will notice both the commitment and hard work it took to get there.
What Score Do I Need?
Understand what you need to get in the first place.
This question helps define your target score. Exactly how high of an ACT score do you need?
This depends entirely on the kind of schools you’re applying to. For schools with looser admissions requirements, the test score ranges tend to be less competitive.
However, if you’re going after the Ivy League, or highly competitive state schools or private universities, then those scores are the first barrier to entry. No school will outright say what you need to score.
However, they do publish score ranges for the students that they do admit. From this information, you can extrapolate what score to aim for if you want a strong chance.
How Do I Feel About Your First Test Performance?
Do you feel that you took your first test under the best circumstances?
Extenuating circumstances can affect test performance, especially the first time out. If you slept poorly and couldn’t concentrate, that’s a definite factor.
If you didn’t eat well or received terrible news before the test, that can affect you as well. If extenuating circumstances or awful nerves broke your concentration, then retaking the ACT is more than fair.
Don’t let one bad performance define your college career if you know that you can do better. You owe it to yourself to take another crack at it, especially with experience on your side now.
How Much Time Do I Have Left?
A big factor to consider is time.
Are you still in your junior year? Or are you a senior with college applications due? The earlier you take the test, the easier it is to retake it.
That’s why your first ACT attempt needs to be in your junior year. You have plenty of time to assess your performance, work out what went wrong, and give yourself enough time for 1-2 more attempts.
Remember that college application deadlines are real, so you can’t ask for extensions just because you don’t like your test score. Also, you can document your score improvements over time, which doesn’t hurt when applications are reviewed.
What’s My Strategy?
Don’t retake the ACT if you don’t have a new plan ready.
Retaking the ACT without doing any preparation is a waste of time and money. Just showing up again doesn’t guarantee a better score.
What you can do is take your score report and experience to figure out problem areas:
- Which sections gave you the most actual trouble?
- What kinds of questions kept tripping you up?
Focusing on those areas will maximize your study time and hyper-focus your efforts. Also, examine how much more time do you want to put into your test prep. Do you have more hours available this time to work or less?
Make a game plan covering what areas you need to improve your scores in and plan studying around them. Don’t forget to keep your strong areas up though. Students often get lazy with their easier subjects and end up missing easy questions.
Overall, go into your ACT retest with a clear strategy and watch your score improve if you put in the work.
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