How do you decide? Well there is a KEY piece of information that most students/parents don't consider because: (1) they don't know about it, and (2) it's definitely counter-intuitive, if not downright irrational. And what is this critical, missing nugget of knowledge?
Why it's "SUPER SCORING," also known as "SAT® Score-Use Practices."
Super scoring comes in six delectable flavors:
1. Highest Section Scores Across Test Dates — Version 1 (Highest M, CR, W)
2. Highest Section Scores Across Test Dates — Version 2 (Highest M, CR, W)
3. Single Highest Test Date — Version 1 (Sum of M+CR+W)
4. Single Highest Test Date — Version 2 (Sum of M+CR+W)
5. All SAT® Scores Required for Review
and the ever popular
6. Contact Institution for Information
What does all of this gobbledygook mean? It means that a student applying to my Alma Mater (Columbia University), which uses "Highest Section Scores Across Test Dates — Version 1", could (in theory) take the test as many times as they can tolerate, preferably starting in kindergarten ;-).
HOWEVER, taking the exam more than three or four times is not advisable.
However, a student applying to my wife's Alma Mater (Yale), which uses "All SAT® Scores Required for Review," would ideally take the exam only once.
There is no logical way to guess a school's policy. From top to bottom, schools of every category and quality use differing policies. Don't fall into the trap of "well, I'm applying to state schools, so I should take the test x times," because you could end up facing this:
Pennsylvania State University — Highest Sitting - Version 2
Rutgers University — Highest Section - Version 1
Temple University — All Scores
University Of Delaware — Highest Section - Version 2
University Of Nevada Las Vegas — Highest Sitting - Version 1
University Of Texas Austin — Contact Institution For Information