Response to Britt on SAT retakes

December 2, 2006 at 9:29 pm 6 comments

Posted by Dee

AdmitSpit received the following comment from Britt today on the post titled, “Typical SAT scores for specific top schools.”

“I need help. Is it wise to repeat SAT in January? I got a good math score but my critical reading was below 600 but above 500. I want to go into a mathematical based field. Please help me before I register to do it over. I want to go Columbia.”

I think Britt’s comment dances around the essential question: under what circumstances should I retake the SAT?

My answer to this is, if you think you can score higher AND you want to score higher, retake!

It’s that simple, I believe. I scored a 2230 on my SAT the first time I took it, and for me, while I think I could’ve scored higher, I did not really want to score higher. Both parts are essential to deciding whether or not to retake.

What I mean by “I did not really want to score higher” is that the idea of sitting in the designated SAT administration classroom for four hours did not, for me, outweigh the excitement of gaining 10 more points to my score.

Perhaps, had I thought that I could’ve scored 70 more points to my score, raising it to a 2300, I might’ve gone back for a retake, but it’s all a matter of personal preference of what constitutes wanting to raise your score. Would you go back and retake for a 10 point increase? 20 point increase? 100 point increase? It’s all based on what you want.

But the second aspect of deciding is not based on volition alone; you must also have the ability to increase your score. Whether this means you are planning to study more ahead of time for the exam in order to do better, or get a good night’s sleep and hearty breakfast before the test in order to do better, or stay more focused throughout the exam to do better, you must know that you are going into retaking the SAT because you are confident that you will improve your scores!

So, Britt, it’s about knowing that you’ll improve your score AND wanting to improve your score.

It appears to me based on your comment that you do have the want to improve your scores. You say you are very interested in Columbia, which has a required humanities program where critical reading is probably a valuable skill.

My recommendation is that IF you think you can raise your scores this next time around, then definitely go for the retake. Scoring in the 500s will not wow an AdComm, so if you really put in effort to increase your scores in this subject, definitely go for it.


Entry filed under: Admissions, AdmitSpit, Answer, Classes, College trends, Columbia, Dance, Hour, Humanities, Mathematics, Organization, Philosophy, Question, Reading, Reading comprehension, Registration, SAT, Skill, Sleep, Stress, Testing, Tips/Tricks.

When to know if you’re accepted early Response to Stephanie and stressed applicant on changing UC apps

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anon  |  December 4, 2006 at 3:34 am

    On the topic of SATs, I always hear about how people would rather take the SATs on “x” date because the “curve” will be higher. What is this “curve” and how does it work and when does it help or hurt you if you are an average student (ie. With an average SAT score of between 1900-2000)

  • 2. stressed applicant  |  December 4, 2006 at 3:38 am

    Hello! This comment is not related to the post. I know that I can add an additional campus after I’ve submitted my application. But can I change one of the campus I’ve applied?
    Thank you!

  • 3. Pushyami  |  December 6, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    What are considered good scores for SAT, ACT, SAT subject (Math 2 and Physics) for engineering applicants to colleges like UC Berkeley and Columbia U? Thanks!

  • 4. Dee  |  December 6, 2006 at 9:35 pm

    I’d say, ideally, you’d want all your SAT scores to be in the upper 700s. Maybe on the reading and writing section of the SAT you could dip a bit, but not below 650 I’d hope. Definitely on the math section of the SAT and the Math 2 and Physics you’d want in the upper 700s (750+). For the math section on the SAT definitely shoot for an 800.
    Not sure exactly what’s considered “good” on the ACT because it’s usually secondary, but you’d want to do as well as what I described for the SAT. Plus, I figure if you do as well as I described on the SAT, then you’d probably get a comparable ACT score!

  • 5. Anna  |  December 26, 2006 at 3:57 am

    Hi, I am also applying to UC schools. But the more I read about students applying there also, the more I am regretting it! I am a very hard worker, I take AP classes and hold a 4.286 GPA. But my SAT scores are seriously crap! I’m talkin mid to upper 500’s. It was also a disappointment when my Dec SAT Subject results came in. I think I will totally do better if I take them again but will the UC schools even look at SAT scores after the Dec score report deadline?

    Thanks for much for your help!

  • 6. Donna Piacenza  |  March 1, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Does anyone know if you can retake just a part of the SAT? My daughter did well on all but math, and she doesn’t want to raise her scores except the math score. Can she just retake the math?
    Thanks so much for your help.


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