Not maximizing your score the first time around doesn’t mean you’ll be slinging burgers at the nearest fast food joint for the rest of your life.
So many students (and their parents) have a “do or die” mentality when it comes to standardized tests. Allow me to be explicit: you will not be executed by firing squad if you don’t perform well on your first SAT or ACT. Furthermore, not maximizing your score the first time around doesn’t mean you’ll be slinging burgers at the nearest fast food joint for the rest of your life.
Think of the standardized testing process as being similar to learning how to drive. Now, as one of Morris County’s great drivers, I can’t personally relate but I know many people who failed that driver’s test on their first try. Guess what? They aren’t now relegated to travel by bicycle or scooter nor were they ignominiously inducted into the Testing Hall of Shame. In fact, most of them simply continued practicing for a few weeks and passed the test on their next try. And for those who didn’t, the third time was the charm.
The weight of ‘the first time’ is now lessened also by ‘super-scoring’ - almost all colleges calculate a student’s SAT test score (and an increasing number of colleges calculate the ACT test score) by combining only the best scores obtained on the individual sections of a test (i.e. Reading, Math...), regardless of whether those scores were obtained on the same date. So, taking the test more than once should already be part of your strategy.
Everyone wants to succeed on their first attempt, but it’s worth remembering that the SAT is offered seven times every year and the ACT six, so living and dying at the hands of a single test score is not only unreasonable, but also unduly stressful.