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What to Do if Your College Entrance Exam Scores are Disappointing

What to Do if Your College Entrance Exam Scores are Disappointing

You’ve worked hard over the course of your high school career, so college entrance exams should be a piece of cake, right? Unfortunately, no, that’s not always the way it works. Even if you earned terrific grades in freshman algebra, there’s no guarantee you’ll remember equations from two or three years ago. Nerves, as well as your overall test-taking skills, can play a role in your test performance. You could even just have an “off” day. There are many reasons that your ACT or SAT score might not match up to your expectations.

So, what do you do, if you’re feeling disappointed with your test score? Should you retake the exam, or try a different test?

Ask yourself what caused the low score. If you feel testing anxiety was to blame, the second go-around might not be so bad. Now you’re accustomed to the testing environment and format of the test, and you could feel more comfortable next time. On the other hand, if you didn’t understand the questions or struggled with things like calculations, you probably need to prepare better next time.

Consider the format of the test. The SAT and ACT are similar, but differences in their formats could mean that one test is better suited to you. For example, the SAT does not contain a dedicated science portion, making it a good choice for those whose science scores drag down their ACT composite scores. On the other hand, those who excel at science might be better off sticking to the ACT.

The SAT also allows more time per math item, meaning those who freeze up under pressure could find themselves more relaxed during that part of the test. On the other hand, some students actually perform better under time constraints, because they don’t have time to overthink answers. You probably understand your testing style better than anyone.

Select a focus. If you decide to retake the test, how much time do you have? If the exam is less than a month away, drilling into your most challenging subject matter might be the best strategy to bring up the overall composite score on the test you previously took. On the other hand, if you have several months to prepare, you might have time to prepare for a totally different format. In this case switching to a different standardized test might be a good idea.

Study with a pro. As always, preparation is the key to success. Aside from studying the test material itself, it’s important to learn test-taking skills and relaxation strategies. Give us a call, and we can help you prepare for your college entrance exams.