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Most students re-take the SAT Reasoning test. Some of them re-take even twice, three, or four times! Obviously, they hope to increase their scores upon re-taking the test. However, research has shown that score increases after re-testing are quite minimal, and that re-testing too many times can even negatively impact your score. So, why do so many students re-test?

Some students elect to prepare for the test better the second or third time around. This may include attending an SAT course, buying new prep materials, or just spending more time taking practice tests. Other students take the SAT again because they are simply unhappy with the scores they received and hope to do better upon a second testing. While studying can improve your score, it is unlikely that re-testing alone will mark any score increase, and can possibly mark a score decrease.

If you do wish to improve your SAT score, however, we can offer you a few tips on the best practices in doing so:

The “One-Section” Strategy

Many students complain that they are overwhelmed by the length and depth of the SAT, and that the material covered in the three sections is just too much to handle. We have good news for you: you don’t necessarily need to handle it all!

The vast majority of colleges ask you to report your best SAT score on each section, meaning that the score you report will be the composite of your best attempts at each section. For example, let’s say you took the test three times, with these results:

January 2008 CR 630 M 650 W 560

March 2008 CR 700 M 440 W 470

May 2008 CR 550 M 570 W 700

Although each of the total scores are roughly comparable for the three testing dates, your actual reported score will include the best of these three sections, so:

SAT Score CR 700 M 650 W 700

This is a much higher score than any of your three testing dates. So, the point is that you should focus on improving one section at a time rather than trying to improve all sections at a time if you need a major score increase.

ag the Easy Points

The SAT doesn’t give away many points without a hitch, but there are some questions that appear on every test that are “giveaways.” Since easy questions are worth the same amount as hard questions, it is actually better that you answer every easy question correctly than answering all of the questions, including the hard ones, and missing some of them. Here’s a simple illustration of the difference in raw scores of a math section with 24 questions:
Raw Score = Questions Correct – (1/4) Questions Wrong
“Easy Points” Strategy Score = 15 – (1/4)2 = 14.5

Non “Easy Points” Score = 16 – (1/4)8 = 14

The whole point of this exercise is to show that the small number of questions you may answer correctly from the hard questions is not worth your time. It is always better to ensure you answer all of the questions you know how to answer correctly first and then work on the harder ones. This increases your mathematical expected value.

Practice (Testing) Makes Perfect

Each of the SAT sections has different types of questions; for example, the math section features multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank geometry, algebra, and math reasoning questions. The only way that you will really become familiar with the questions of a particular section is by taking multiple practice tests on that section. Timing is essential to the SAT, and you should know how to divide up your time. While timing strategies vary from student to student, the only way that you will know how to time yourself is by practicing the test to get a “feel” for it.


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