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, (although in practice, taking the exam more than three 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