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Thomas Broderick

Taking the ACT Twice and Your College Applications

So you’re thinking about taking the ACT a second time. Good for you! Retaking the ACT is a great way to get a better score and improve your chances of admission to an elite university. But how do taking the ACT twice and your college applications relate?

If you fear that admissions officers will take one look at your scores and ask, “Why should our super-duper selective school admit someone who couldn’t test right the first time? Rejected,” you don’t need to worry!


Taking the ACT Twice and Your College Applications -Magoosh

Not an accurate depiction of a college admissions office.


Taking the ACT twice is actually the best plan for college application success. The first ACT acts as a benchmark of your abilities. Using the results of ACT #1, you create a study plan. Then, apply new concepts and skills learned through studying to your game plan when taking ACT #2.

Voila! ACT #2 Composite Score > ACT #1 Composite Score.

Beyond this recipe for success, there are some ins and out about taking the ACT twice you should know.

Won’t My Dream College See My Lower Score?

Not if you don’t want it to. (For the most part, anyway. There is a handful of schools that do require all scores, so do your homework!)

If you knock the ACT out of the park on the first try, that’s great. Just don’t send colleges that score until after you get your ACT results. A good rule of thumb is that the results of ACT #1 are for Your Eyes Only.

Even if your dream college(s) has/have already seen your lower ACT score, it’s not the end of the world. At the end of the day, college admission counselors care about your highest ACT score. Some even accept superscores. In fact, raising your ACT score shows grit, something colleges (and future employers) love.

Your 2nd ACT

Here’s where the twist comes in. Many students who take the ACT twice take it the second time during the fall of their senior year of high school. At that point, with college application deadlines coming up, it is possible that you may have to send your scores to colleges before you even see the results.

One way to get around this issue is to pay close attention to fall test dates. For example, ACT offers both September and October test dates. If you want to see your scores before sending them off, go with September. Also, September has the added benefit of being early in the school year. There will be fewer academic distractions competing for your time and attention. I’d recommend registering for the September date now if you are currently a high school junior.

Final Thoughts

Just about everyone takes the ACT twice, and colleges know this. If you’re smart about it, you can make the most of the experience, and earn the score you deserve. Good luck in your studying, ACT scholars!

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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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