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Not squeezing in one more ACT or SAT could hurt later on

This time of year, high school juniors will have to start thinking about SATs and ACTs, the first of which, for them, will be administered this coming spring. One question that parents and students may have about these tests is: how many times do you take them?

Well, the simple answer is that students should take the ACT and/or the SAT as many times as they can until they get the grades that they want or need to get into the schools of their choice. Both tests can be taken numerous times – the ACT for instance, has a limit of 12 tries – and every time a student does better, the new score becomes his or her official grade. For the SAT specifically, since the test is graded in multiple parts, a student's final grade consists of his or her best scores on each section.

High school students should find a happy medium between taking the SAT or ACT once, and tackling these test too many times. High school students should find a happy medium between taking the SAT or ACT once, and tackling these tests too many times.

Finding the happy medium
It is generally recommended that students take these tests more than once, at least, to ensure the best score possible. While taking the ACT 12 times may likely be overkill – and is difficult to do because of scheduling – it is important for students to hit a happy medium that helps them make sure they achieve the sort of grade that will propel them into their preferred schools.

If a student doesn't take the SAT or ACT enough times, well, who knows what he or she could have missed out on? Scores generally improve with each pass at the tests before eventually leveling off, which means that a student who takes either exam only once is essentially selling his or herself short.

The most important piece to the testing puzzle is to ensure proper preparation. Just like strategizing for college funding, planning for the SAT and ACT should include plenty of research, reviewing options and working with professionals. Students should research what sort of scores they'll need for admission into their preferred schools, locate nearby test prep centers or SAT and ACT study help at their schools and study often.

The SAT's math section aren't the only numbers to think about
Preparing for the SAT and ACT isn't the only long-term process that families should pay close attention to when it comes to college, though. Putting together a college funding strategy these days isn't just helpful, it is necessary. Take a look at our Smart TrackTM Minute video series, and speak with a Smart TrackTM college funding expert to learn more about how to maximize savings and make college affordable.