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Articles / Applying to College / Must Sophomore SATs Be Retaken?

Must Sophomore SATs Be Retaken?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 14, 2003

Question: I am a junior with PSAT scores high enough to put me in the running for a National Merit Scholarship. I took the SAT I as a sophomore and earned a 1550. If I don’t repeat the test, will colleges use these 10th grade scores? Can I qualify as a National Merit finalist without an SAT taken after sophomore year? In other words, must I retake the SAT I as a senior, or can I kick back and relax and watch my friends study like crazy for it?

You do not have to retake the SAT I if you are happy with your sophomore scores (and well you should be!). The National Merit folks can use those scores, as well, assuming you took that SAT I no earlier than October of your sophomore year. (Is that the case?) According to Katy Macherey, Director of Educational Services, if you do decide to retest anyway, NM will consider only your highest scores, even if they are the ones from 10th grade.

Colleges, too, will use your sophomore scores if they are the only ones available. If you decide to retake the tests anyway, most colleges will also use your highest scores. (A few, however, may use only the most recent ones. )

While there is no truly compelling reason why you should take the SAT I’s again as a senior, chances are, your numbers will go up, even though they are quite high to begin with. This could benefit you if you are applying to colleges that use any sort of numerical formula to admit students. For instance, the Ivy League’s “Academic Index” plugs your highest SAT scores (both I’s and II’s) into a formula along with your class rank (or GPA, if your school doesn’t rank). If your rank is good but not tip-top, then your overall AI will benefit from having the highest SATs you can. For more information on the AI, go to College Confidential Academic Index section:

Given your track record to date, it sounds like you can “kick back and relax” while your friends go crazy studying for the SATs, and still take them and do well anyway. However, don’t worry: colleges will happily accept and use your sophomore scores, if that’s all they’re given, Some indeed will be impressed that you achieved those high-water marks in only grade 10.

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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