ACT Retakes


Photo by R M Media

Britney Chen, Online Editor

A few times a year, students across the U.S. are stuck inside a room for nearly five hours taking the ACT. Despite the pressure and preparation involved with the test, nearly half the students who took it their first time will take it again.

In 2017, around two million students took the ACT, and it’s estimated that about 45 percent will retake the test. That’s about nine hundred thousand students retaking the ACT at least once.

Some students wonder if retaking the ACT is worth it, but students retaking the test have a good chance of increasing their score. According to the ACT official website, “57 percent of the students increased their composite score, 21 percent had no change, and 22 percent decreased their score.” On average, retest takers increase their score by 2.9 points. A better score, even by a couple points, put students in the running for more scholarships and competitive schools. However, students who had a lower initial ACT composite are more likely to get a better score retaking the test than students who started with a higher initial composite. The ACT said that out of the people who scored a 32 or higher the first time, less than 50 percent of them were able to increase their score the second time.

Ultimately, the question of whether or not to retake the ACT depends on what your target score is and if it is worth the effort to get. With enough studying and practice, a score in the low twenties can turn into one in the high twenties. Once a student breaks the thirties, though, the time it takes studying to improve their score may not be worth the effort and could be better spent on other parts of their college application like the essays.

However, It’s highly recommended to retake the test at least once, no matter what your score. Kyle Bussell, a Bingham math teacher who taught the ACT math prep class, said, “the first time you take the test is an experience run and the second time you actually know what you are getting into.” Factors like test-taking nervousness could be the reason you had a lower score than you wanted rather than your lack of knowledge.

It’s possible to increase an ACT score by a couple points by simply retaking it, but beyond that, it’s going to taking some studying. The key to this is studying smart. Bussell said, “you’re not going to be able to relearn the last nine years of school… [so] learn testing strategies in a testing environment.” The ACT is known for being predictable so by taking practice tests in a time limit helps recreate the testing environment and prepares students for what type of questions will be asked. Katie Fredrikson who taught the ACT English and Reading prep class, said, “the best way to better their score would be for students to take a practice test and go over every single answer, whether or not they got it right or wrong.”

Just like there are general testing strategies for the ACT, there are ones for the specific ACT subject tests. For the English test, Fredrikson said, “study the rules, commas, and semicolons because that’s the most often misused punctuation.”  On the math test, Bussell said, “there are five options, two answers look alike, it’s probably one of them.” Finally, for science, Lisa Kammeyer, who taught the ACT science prep, said, “it’s best to read the question first, don’t do any of the reading or the diagrams [until after].”

There are a lot of other tips like this for the ACT. In the end, the ACT is just one part of a person’s college application. Retaking the test is generally a good choice but it doesn’t make or break your future schooling.