Your College Planning Specialists

If you’re an aspiring college student who needs to increase your test scores or prepare for your first entrance exam, you may be curious about your options.

Determining which exams you should take and how many retakes are too many can be challenging. It’s not always a commonly discussed topic when preparing for college.

Like most students, you want to make a great impression with the colleges you’re interested in, in hopes of being accepted to their school

Learn more about the various types of entrance exams, which exams you should take, whether you should retake exams you’ve already taken, and where to find experienced college planning specialists.

What are entrance exams?

A college entrance exam is a standardized test that many colleges and universities require as part of the admissions process.

The PSAT, SAT, and ACT are the most common college entrance exams.

These tests assess a student’s knowledge and abilities in areas such as math, reading, and writing and are used to determine a student’s readiness for college-level coursework.

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)

This is a standardized test that high school students often take to prepare for the SAT.

It’s not a requirement to apply for colleges, but it can be used to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)

This test assesses a student’s knowledge and abilities in math, reading, and writing.

It’s typically taken by students in the United States and is accepted by most colleges and universities in the country. Many colleges have score thresholds which allow you to skip pre-requisite courses if your test scores are high enough.

ACT(American College Test)

This test is similar to the SAT and assesses a student’s math, reading, and writing knowledge and abilities. The ACT is required by many high schools nationwide and commonly takes place during junior year.

Also, like the SAT, the ACT is an integral part of the college admissions process, and a good score can help you gain admission to the college or university of your choice, as well as enroll directly into college-level courses.

Other exams

Some colleges and universities in other countries have their own entrance exams, such as India’s JEE and NEET, China’s Gaokao, and UK’s UCAS Tariff.

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Which entrance exams should you consider?

The type of entrance exams you should consider depends on the colleges and universities you are applying to.


If you’re applying to colleges and universities in the United States, the SAT or ACT is likely already required by your high school. If your school did not require these tests, a college specialist could help you set up a time outside of school to take them.

Some colleges also accept other exams, such as the AP or Subject Tests, but these are not as common as the SAT or ACT.


Some colleges and Universities may require or recommend specific subject tests, depending on the major that you’re interested in.

For example, if you’re applying to a school with a strong engineering program, you may be required to take math and physics subject tests.

International Applicant

Some colleges and Universities may require specific exams for international applicants, such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) for non-native English speakers.

International Baccalaureate

If you take the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, you may be able to use your IB exam scores in place of other entrance exams.

Check with the schools that you’re applying to, to determine which exams are required or recommended.

It’s also good to keep in mind that some colleges and universities have test-optional or test-flexible policies and you may not have to submit test scores.

Should you retake college entrance exams?

Whether or not you should retake any college entrance exams depends on a few factors.

Admissions criteria

Keep in mind that test scores are only one aspect of the admissions process, and colleges and universities also consider factors such as your grades, extracurricular activities, and essays.

Your scores

If your test scores are below the average range for the colleges and universities to which you’re applying, it’s recommended to retake the exam to try to improve your scores. Try contacting your preferred school’s admissions office for guidance on whether your scores are high enough.

Many students take the SAT or ACT two to three times before obtaining a score they are proud of. Keep in mind, however, that a fee may be required to retake an entrance exam.

Time and resources

Not only can it cost money to retake an exam, but it’s also another time commitment both for the test and studying to get a better score.

If you don’t have the time to study more, your tests won’t likely change or go up much. Be sure you’re willing to commit to earning a better score before you waste time.

Work on specific sections

If you aren’t satisfied with your math score, but excelled at the reading and writing sections, you may only need to retake the math section.

Many colleges will engage in super scoring, which takes the highest score from each test you have taken and uses it.


The first time you take the ACT or SAT you may not know what to expect. After taking an entrance exam once, you’ll have a better understanding of the topics that you’re less knowledgeable about, and what you should study for.

Again, account for the time it will take you to adequately prepare to retake the exam before you commit.


Consider the deadline of your college application.

If you retake the test, you’ll have to wait for the result, which might not return in time for the college’s application deadline.

Speak with a guidance counselor, college admissions advisor, or college planning specialist to discuss your situation and whether retaking the exam would benefit you.

Consult with a college planner

There are many people willing to help potential college students interested in applying for school, taking entrance exams, and finding ways to afford it.

By reaching out to teachers, counselors, advisors, and college planning specialists, you will learn how to enroll in the colleges of your choice and increase your chances of being accepted.

At College Benefits Research Groups, our mission is to serve college-bound students and families by demystifying the college application process, and by providing outstanding support.

We offer workshops that will help students prepare for their academic future and plan for their college journey—contact us to get started today.