Are SATs Still Important? What’s a “Good” Score?
More than 1,800 colleges have announced plans to go test-optional or test-blind in fall 2023 admissions. Still, some experts say skipping the test is not in a student’s best interest.
“As long as any preference or advantage can be gleaned by submitting test scores, students who opt not to do so are at a disadvantage,” Anders Bruce, founding tutor of Washington Prep, a test preparation and college admissions consulting company, says. “For these students to be competitive, they would need to have an equal chance of being admitted and receiving scholarships regardless of whether they test. That is simply not true of college admissions today, nor will it be the case this or next fall.”
Sarah Wood, a reporter for US News, recently spoke to experts on what a good SAT score for college admissions looks like and how applicants can improve upon their score.
WHAT SCORE TO AIM FOR
A “good” SAT score is subjective, meaning it depends on what school you’re looking to apply to. Experts recommend that applicants look up the “middle 50” – the range of scores between the 25th percentile and 75th percentile for the last admitted class – of the school they’re applying to and try to score within or above that range.
Keep in mind too that an SAT score is only one part of your application. Admissions officers view a good score relative to other aspects of your application, including GPA, rigor of courses taken, and high school location.
“Students are often judged in comparison to their peers,” Amy Seeley, founder and president of Seeley Test Pros, LLC, an Ohio-based tutoring company, says. “So what is the kind of level of work that’s happening with other students? If a student is at a school where there are no honors or AP courses, then of course they’re not going to be judged as much. But they are going to need a score that sets them apart from the other students at that school.”
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE
Improving your SAT score takes practice and resources. College Board offers a number of free practice tests and resources specifically designed to help students improve their scores.
“Our tool gives you insights on the areas where you are already really strong – i.e., don’t bother spending more practice time in those areas – and the areas where you are relatively weaker,” says Priscilla Rodriguez, senior vice president for college readiness assessments at the College Board.
The best way to improve? Spend time on your areas of weakness.
“Focusing on your weaknesses is critical because you have a limited amount of time to study, and you need to spend that precious time on the areas that will get you the biggest score improvement,” Allen Cheng, of Prep Scholar, says.
Next Page: Tips for College Admissions Success