There’s a lot of emphasis placed on getting a good ACT or SAT score—and for good reason! Many students choose to retake the test, maybe even a few times, in order to improve upon their first attempt. Our friends at College Raptor are here to help you see how higher test scores can affect two crucial college elements: acceptance odds and scholarships.

Boost Acceptance Odds

First, consider how ACT/SAT scores affect college acceptance odds: a higher score looks more impressive on your application. To set goals for yourself, research the average ACT/SAT scores of the freshman classes at colleges where you plan to apply.

This is also a great way to see if a given school is a good academic fit for you.

For example, at Stony Brook University the average incoming student scores between a 1230 and a 1420 on the SAT. Stony Brook’s overall acceptance rate is a selective 42 percent. Let’s say a student with a 3.7 GPA and a 1250 on the SAT wants to attend Stony Brook. With those academic stats, her personalized acceptance odds are 37 percent. It’s a slight reach, but not impossible. But bump that SAT score up a few points to a 1310, and suddenly, her odds increase to 44 percent. If she scores a 1380, the odds are 53 percent. What a difference some extra prep work and studying can make! And remember: those increased odds are due solely to a higher SAT score, nothing else.

By using the free college match tool over on College Raptor, you can see how your test scores affect your acceptance odds at any 4-year college in the country! (You can also plug in your score goal to see how much it changes those odds, like in the example above.)

Most colleges will require either ACT or SAT scores, though at some schools they’re optional. If you’ve got good scores, including them in your application to test-optional schools can earn you kudos. Every little bit helps! Sometimes certain ACT and SAT scores can even land you a spot in a honors program.

Higher Score, More Scholarships

Getting in is one thing, but paying for college is another challenge altogether. Luckily, having a good ACT/SAT score can be a two-birds-one-stone situation. Since they don’t have to be paid back, scholarships are by far the best way to pay for college.

There are two major scholarship sources: colleges and outside organizations. Schools themselves are the largest provider of scholarships to students. These are awarded mostly in the form of merit scholarships that are heavily based on your academic scores, which include your ACT or SAT results. Typically, the higher your score rises, the higher your scholarship award becomes. A point or two more an ACT exam could mean hundreds, even thousands more in scholarship dollars.

If we take the same student example as before (3.7 GPA, 1250 SAT) and look at scholarship amounts at Stony Brook University, College Raptor estimates a student should expect to receive an initial scholarship package of around $6,500 over the course of four years. After some hard work and some good test prep guidance, an increased SAT score of 1350 could earn you $2,000 more per year. That’s over $8,000 total over a 4-year degree—well worth the extra time investment.

Additionally, outside scholarships may set ACT/SAT score minimums as qualifying criteria. The better your score, the more likely you are to qualify for more scholarships. You’ll want to apply to as many scholarships as you possibly can in order to lower the amount you may have to borrow in student loans (or to avoid taking out loans entirely).

Considering a Retake?

Now that you know the benefits of a higher score, are you considering a retake? Visiting College Raptor can help you set test score goals and show you how your ACT/SAT results affect your potential scholarships. Retaking the exam can be well worth the additional effort. Good luck and happy studying!