Can you retake just one section of the ACT®/SAT®?

Can you retake just one section of the ACT/SAT?

It’s a common scenario. During your junior or senior year of high school, you decide to take the ACT or SAT. But when you receive your scores, you’re disappointed to find that you did fairly well on each section except one. You think about testing again to try to improve your score, but you don’t want to take the whole thing over. Is it possible to retake just one section of the SAT or ACT? Keep reading to find out.

Retaking the SAT

You can take the SAT as many times as you want, but that’s not always the best choice. For one thing, if you decide to retake it, you have to sit for the entire exam rather than just one section. But keep this in mind: according to The New York Times, research shows that students who take the SAT a second time can boost their score by almost 90 points (up to the highest possible score, 1600). Those who have especially low initial SAT scores may see even greater gains on subsequent rounds of testing.

One disadvantage of testing multiple times is that some colleges require you to include all your SAT scores when you apply. Other schools participate in Score Choice, which allows you to select the scores you want to submit.

Retaking the ACT

As with the SAT, if you have already taken the ACT and are not happy with your score, you can test again. Re-testing is recommended if you think your score doesn’t reflect your true abilities. Or you may have covered new material related to the test since taking the ACT and now want to take it a second time.  However, as with the SAT, you cannot retake just one section—you must take the entire test again.

According to, 57% of students who retake the ACT improve their composite score. For another 21%, re-testing does not change their composite score. For 22% of re-testers, taking the ACT again actually decreases their composite score. Students with a composite score of 13-29 usually see a one-point gain in their overall score when they take the exam again. The lower your initial composite score, the more likely you are to improve the next time around. If, on the other hand, you earned a high score, like a 30, on your first round of testing, there is a chance you will receive a lower composite score when you test again. 

ACT maintains separate records for each test date. When applying to college, you can select which scores you want to submit. In most cases, you need to submit only one score report, but you may opt to send reports from more than one test date.

Self-Paced Online Test Prep

Taking time to prepare for the ACT/SAT can help you achieve your target score the first time around. UWorld provides flexible test prep that makes it possible to study whenever and wherever it’s most convenient. Ready to get started? Check out our site to learn more.

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