One of the greatest things about being in college is that you’re not in high school anymore. Well, you don’t say. Let me be clear– when I mean you’re not in high school anymore, I mean to say that no longer do you have to deal with people constantly nagging you about going to class or the pressure surrounding the high school air. When you’re in college, you don’t have to deal with plowing through the college admissions process anymore, and more specifically, the dreaded standardized testing. Sayonara, SAT! Adios, ACT!
As much as you and I’d like to assume that ending high school means the end of those 8 hour long exams, that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, many college students actually opt to retake the SAT and/or the ACT again. But why–why would anyone want to ever put themselves through the pain and suffering that comes with not only having to study for these standardized tests but also the time and money used?
The Transfer Situation
Although we many not like to admit it, some of us don’t always end up in the school that best fits our personalities (and if that’s the case, check out more information here). If you happen to be in this situation, it’s OKAY! While transferring to another college may seem like a complete walk in the park, understand that doing so means having to go through the admissions process all over again, which includes filling out applications, writing essays and personal statements, getting letters of recommendation, applying for financial aid/grants/scholarships, possibly interviewing, and, in some situations, having to retake the SAT or ACT again.
Some colleges may call for applicants to retake their SAT/ACT again if it’s not in the normal range of the applicant pool at the institution, whereas some may not accept scores taken after high school graduation, which would deem retaking the tests worthless. More often than not, admission officers take the holistic approach and place your college transcript way above a few numbers you received on a random Saturday on an exam you took years ago. They understand that the applicant in college is vastly different in maturity (hopefully) and experience as compared to the applicant in high school.
Scholarships and the Financial Aid Dilemma
Some people may choose to retake their SAT or ACT to improve their score so that they can qualify for financial aid. In fact, from my personal experience, this is perhaps the most common reason as to why individuals choose to sit through those godforsaken tests. Many colleges across the nation offer merit based scholarships, which are scholarships given due to academic achievements, such as SAT scores, GPA, ranking, etc.
Although you cannot qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), as this is based on scores from high school, if you try hard enough (and if your college allows it), you can possibly retake the standardize tests for a better financial aid award. For example, in my university, I was awarded the University Scholars Meritorious Award, which gave me $4,000/year based off of the SAT scores I sent in as a senior. However, if I were to retake the SAT, score above a composite 1250, and send in those scores, I could virtually talk to financial aid about bumping up my scholarship to $6,000/year.
Although it may not seem like much, every penny counts, and retaking a test on a Saturday morning to save over $6,000/year is definitely a great reason to do so. Disclaimer: this may not be allowed at your institution so before deciding on retaking either the SAT or ACT in hopes of a better financial aid package, talk to the financial aid department to be sure.
Last but definitely not least, another reason for retaking the tests is because of self-satisfaction. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Who in their right mind would care so much about a measly score? You’re in college now, so what does it matter? Although it may seem typical to associate the SAT and ACT with high school, some people still think about it in college too. Some people may feel that high school was a period of laziness, whereas college was a period of productivity. They may decide on retaking it for kicks. Some people may decide on retaking the test to see if they can beat their 2300 and get a perfect 2400. Some people even take it during their senior year in college to compare their new score with their score from high school, as a somewhat indicator of the “knowledge” they’ve attain. Whatever the reason, it’s completely okay if you choose to do so! Just understand the outcome of the your situation and see if you’re really going to gain something out of retaking a standardized test meant for high schoolers.
One of the most important things to note is that the SAT and ACT, more than anything, is an indicator for “success” for high school kids entering college— in other words, it gauges the “readiness” of a bunch of 16, 17, and 18 year old kids, not kids who are already in college. If taking the exams was not your cup of tea before, don’t bother taking it again unless you really need to, in which case, you should talk to your advisor(s) for more information. Hopefully, once you’re in college, that horrible window of terrible, no-good standardized testing horrors remains closed forever.