Compass directors have countless conversations with families about whether or not their students should retake the ACT or SAT exam. Even the ones who are thrilled with their initial results may succumb to the pressure to try for one more composite point on the ACT or another 20 to 50 points on the SAT. Typically the answer to “Should I try it again?” is not a simple one. As Managing Director in Compass’ Southern California office, I thought it would be helpful to share our approach.
What Is “History of Progress”?
First, it’s important for a student to look at her full history of progress. Compass students who engage in regular, meaningful prep often see increases in the range of 3 to 5 ACT composite points or 100 to 200 points on the SAT. Whether a student has already significantly increased her individual baseline, we will advise her to tread carefully. In short, while we don’t want to impose limits on any student, the reality is that most have a range of improvement that is to be expected; more time spent on test prep doesn’t always yield more points.
When a student is determined to test again, the next logical step is for her to sit for a full-length, timed practice test to see where things stand. A current set of results will let the student know whether she’s in the same scoring range as her previous test or whether things have slipped a bit. This concrete
information—especially when gleaned from previously administered exams such as the ones Compass offers on weekends—will indicate how much refresher work and practice will be necessary for the next test date.
Finally, we encourage a dialogue that addresses a few key questions:
- How do existing scores stack up against the student’s list of schools?
- Will one more attempt at the ACT or SAT compete with other academic and extracurricular pursuits?
To address the first question, students should research admission statistics using the Compass Guide and consult with a counselor to get solid advice on how necessary another attempt may be.
As far as finding a balance between school and test prep, it’s important to remember: just as a runner conditions for the next big race, students who target an additional test must make time for regular practice. In other words, if you’re going to do it, you should do it right.
To speak to me or another knowledgeable Compass director about improving ACT or SAT scores, visit our Contact page.