Can students take the test more than once?
Yes, students are allowed to take the SAT and ACT as many times as desired (provided, of course, they sign up and pay the required fee each time). However, the real question is, should a student retake it? The answer depends on the student and his/her individual situation. Here are some thoughts:
As ACT Says on its Website
“You should definitely consider retesting if you had any problems during [the first] testing. You may also want to consider retesting if you don’t believe that your scores accurately represent your abilities or if you have [recently] completed coursework or an intensive review in the subject areas included in the ACT” (http://www.actstudent.org/faq/answers/more.html). Statistically, more than half of students who retake either the SAT or ACT test do better on it the second time around. The likelihood of improvement goes down the third time, and subsequent attempts are generally not considered beneficial (and may actually cause increased stress!).
The Old Adage
“If nothing changes, nothing changes” applies here – if a student continues to retest but does not do anything differently between tests (such as practice more, get effective tutoring, reduce stress, etc.), then it is unlikely that the score will change significantly.
Many students do choose to take either the SAT or ACT (or, sometimes, both) a second time, but I always tell my students that no one would be happier than I if the first time gets the job done! As we all know, our culture has moved in many ways toward overkill. I strive for a balanced approach, and part of my mission in working with students and parents is to help decrease everyone’s stress about the testing process. In some cases this may include my recommending less testing rather than more. Ultimately, I encourage families to consider the various factors involved and to make their decisions based on what best suits each student’s individual needs.