The Pitch

Is third time really the charm on the SAT?

Ashwin Kammula, Staff Writer

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For juniors and seniors at WJ, the path to college is a terrifying and demanding process. One of the most daunting obstacles on this path is the SAT or ACT. Many students go into their college search with high hopes; however, these college entrance exams often put a damper on their search.

In the competitive environment of college admissions, students have tremendous pressure to get an incredibly high score on either the SAT or ACT. After taking the exam for a first time, students often feel that their scores are inadequate. The average for their college of choice may be a few points higher than their score and they immediately start preparing to take the exam for a second time but even after the second time or third or fourth time.

However, how many times is too many? There is no definite answer to this question. Students must evaluate the advantages of taking these tests again, as well as the disadvantages. While students’ test scores could improve and help their chances at college admission, it is not guaranteed.

For many students at WJ, these tests add onto the never ending list of stresses in the life of a high school student. It is difficult to balance studying for these exams alongside a rigorous high school schedule and high commitment extracurriculars, causing students to often find themselves dealing with high amounts of stress. Students must decide whether the extra few points on these exams outweigh the mental anguish suffered.

Test scores are not the only thing looked at in a college application. Many colleges preach their use of a holistic approach while reviewing a student’s applications. Students must consider whether studying to take the SAT or ACT exam for a third or fourth time is the best use of their time. Would it be more beneficial for students to use this time to write an outstanding college essay, or take another AP class or take a more committed role in an extracurricular?

We are told to try to minimize the stress of the college application process, but this hardly seems possible. With so much to consider including essays, teacher recommendations and financial aid it makes sense for us to simplify the process whenever possible. While the SAT and ACT are extremely important in the college admission process, students should think twice before they blindly take these exams for a second, third or fourth time.

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Is third time really the charm on the SAT?