What to Do After a Poor SAT Test Day

If you prepared immensely for your SAT test date and are now staring at a score that doesn’t reflect your testing ability, it is not time to panic. Each year, thousands of test-takers are in your place, asking themselves the same questions you probably are: What went wrong? Should I take the test again, and if so, when? How can I make sure this doesn’t happen on another test date?

Tackling these questions is essential to guiding you through the rest of your standardized testing for college applications. Start with these guidelines below to gather yourself after a poor SAT test day.

What went wrong?

Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep in the week leading up to your test. Maybe you had a ton of ordinary homework assignments to tackle, had a family emergency, or just plain neglected to do as much SAT prep as you should have. It is important to look at the circumstances surrounding your test prep and test day that may have affected your performance. While you can’t erase these circumstances or mistakes now, you can reflect on them and think about what you might do differently if you are planning to take the SAT again.

Should I test again?

If you are a senior with halfway-completed college applications and no reasonable opportunity to retake the SAT, chances are you shouldn’t register for another test and should instead focus on highlighting other strengths on your college applications. If you are a junior or even a senior with later college application deadlines, it is worth considering retaking this test. 

[RELATED: What is an Average SAT Score?]

As you explore whether or not you should re-test, ask yourself if the circumstances or habits that led to your less-than-desirable test score before are now resolved or can be resolved. For example, if you recognize that you did not do well because you had strong anxiety about the exam, ask yourself if you can reasonably be expected to overcome that anxiety by your next anticipated test date. Make sure if you decide to test again, that you have enough time to do so and are able to conquer the issues that led to a poor score initially.

When should I test again?

If you have decided to test again, the next step is deciding when to test. If you are a senior, you may have limited options, but if you are an underclassman, you may be debating between spring, fall, and winter exams. When deciding on a day to take this exam again, refer once again to the circumstances surrounding your poor performance in the past. Did you underperform because you could not balance SAT prep with other academic and extracurricular responsibilities? If so, then taking a fall test might be best because you’ll have all summer to study. Alternatively, was your test performance negatively impacted by a circumstance that has now passed and that did not affect your studying? If that is the case, perhaps the next available test date is appropriate. Use your mistakes and shortcomings as guidelines to decide when to test again. 

How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?

This is perhaps the most important question you should ask yourself if you are heading toward another test date. What can you do differently this time around? Was there anything about your studying that was lacking the first time? Did you forget any major concepts that were heavily addressed in test questions? Once you have identified what went wrong, you can then begin to develop a plan to make your next test date go right. Perhaps you’ll seek SAT tutoring or utilize an SAT prep book this time around. Make sure your plan contains reasonable and practical steps that you can implement successfully before your next test date. Being more fastidious about your preparation may pay off in a higher score next time!

Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at blog@varsitytutors.com.