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Articles / Applying to College / Penalty for Retaking SAT Subject Tests?

Feb. 24, 2010

Penalty for Retaking SAT Subject Tests?

Question: Do you get penalized for taking a Subject Test twice? I want to take the Subject Test in chemistry after an honors chem class then take it again after AP Chem next year.

Although far more students retake the SAT I's than the SAT II's, there is certainly no penalty for doing either. If you check out this recent College Confidential discussion thread, you'll see that some students have been very pleased by their score gains after second tries on Subject Tests.


Note, however, that many colleges do not honor the College Board's "Score Choice" option. So if you do take the chem test twice, you will be expected to report both scores to “All Scores” schools. Even so, the colleges will only officially “use” the best one. Note also that a growing number of colleges that previously required two — or even three — Subject Tests no longer require any at all. Subject Tests — even when not mandatory — can still be a good way to show off strengths (such as chemistry) that aren’t covered on the SAT and ACT. But this only works if the scores are strong. If they aren’t so hot, you’re better off not submitting them at all when you don’t have to.

Good luck. Good luck. (That's for both tests. ;-))

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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