Preparing for College

Must Sophomore SATs Be Retaken?

Question: I am a junior with PSAT scores high enough to put me in the running for a National Merit Scholarship. I took the SAT I as a sophomore and earned a 1550. If I don’t repeat the test, will colleges use these 10th grade scores? Can I qualify as a National Merit finalist without an SAT taken after sophomore year? In other words, must I retake the SAT I as a senior, or can I kick back and relax and watch my friends study like crazy for it?

You do not have to retake the SAT I if you are happy with your sophomore scores (and well you should be!). The National Merit folks can use those scores, as well, assuming you took that SAT I no earlier than October of your sophomore year. (Is that the case?) According to Katy Macherey, Director of Educational Services, if you do decide to retest anyway, NM will consider only your highest scores, even if they are the ones from 10th grade.


Colleges, too, will use your sophomore scores if they are the only ones available. If you decide to retake the tests anyway, most colleges will also use your highest scores. (A few, however, may use only the most recent ones. )

While there is no truly compelling reason why you should take the SAT I’s again as a senior, chances are, your numbers will go up, even though they are quite high to begin with. This could benefit you if you are applying to colleges that use any sort of numerical formula to admit students. For instance, the Ivy League’s “Academic Index” plugs your highest SAT scores (both I’s and II’s) into a formula along with your class rank (or GPA, if your school doesn’t rank). If your rank is good but not tip-top, then your overall AI will benefit from having the highest SATs you can. For more information on the AI, go to College Confidential Academic Index section:

Given your track record to date, it sounds like you can “kick back and relax” while your friends go crazy studying for the SATs, and still take them and do well anyway. However, don’t worry: colleges will happily accept and use your sophomore scores, if that’s all they’re given, Some indeed will be impressed that you achieved those high-water marks in only grade 10.