a month ago
Admissions Advice

Could You Still Improve Your SAT Score?

I recently received my PSAT scores and was very disappointed in my performance. Is there still a chance to receive a very high SAT score?


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
a month ago[edited]

If you are a 10th grader, then yes, you have time to prep for the 11th grade version and improve your score. However if you are an 11th grader, it's is unlikely to expect a significant improvement unless you do some drastic things. What I mean by this is if say you got an 1100 but you your SAT goal score is 1400, that's nearly 300 points you have to make up. Your 1100 prolly translates to a 1180 SAT score so getting a 1400 will require you study differently and attack the SAT like was taking 2 AP classes, one in English and one in Math.

Consistent to most other people's recommendations here is my list of things you have to do.

1. Get the Official SAT test prep book with practice tests.

2. Open a Khan academy account and upload your PSAT or take an SAT practice test so you know what all your weaknesses are. Use Khan diligently and complete all the exercises and master the material.

3. Take as many practice tests as possible once you master the material. Some say 1 per week is a good goal. Maybe less for the time being but about 10 weeks before your actual SAT test you want to do 1 per week. If you see steady improvement on your practice tests, that's a good sign. Although practice tests are not the same since you are not in a large auditorium that is proctored or timed, they are fairly accurate. If you are scoring between 1350 and 1450 on practice tests, then 1400 is certainly possible on a real exam.

4. If you are stuck at a score either English or Math and Khan is not helping you, then you need to bring in other materials like Erica Meltzer Writing book, or the College Panda Series or the SAT Black Book, or Dr.Chungs SAT math problems. These will help you understand the how to take the test better.

5. If after grinding on supplemental books, you find yourself stuck yet, you have 3 options. 1.) Sign up for a SAT prep course like Kaplan or Princeton Review. 2. Sign up for SuperTutorTV online SAT course. or 3.) Switch to the ACT and see if you can score a higher percentile score on a different test platform. Sometimes the ACT is much better for certain types of students. While there is less math (1 section versus 2 sections) the math on the ACT is harder if you want to get a top score like a 33-36 on the math. Also, there is Science Section, so if you are bad at STEM, you might not like the Science section on the ACT and find it not worthwhile having to learning something else. Otherwise the English and Reading are both very similar. Overall the ACT has more questions so the pace is faster since the total time to take the test is the same.

Hope this all helps. I would not pay much attention to some of the youtube videos that say they did this and that and increased their score 300 -400 pts. These are usually videos posted by straight A students who walked in cold to their first SAT test but knew they had to grind to get to where they needed to be. If you are an average student with average GPA and grades, the probabilities are highly against you to get a 99% percentile SAT score like a 1530 no matter how much you study okay?

If you are junior, the sooner you understand whether you are suited for the SAT or ACT the better. So you might want to simply take a practice test for both and take it from there. Since all colleges are completely agnostic to which test you submit, please do not feel a sense of defeat if you have switch to the ACT. A high ACT will get you into a great school and is not looked down upon. It's like if you are runner and train for the 1500M versus the Mile. If you have top 1500M time, colleges want you, regardless of your 1 mile time.

Good luck.

a month ago[edited]

@CameronBameron actually points out pretty much the main points! And I wanted to add one with a few of my thoughts:


Part 1: General

I don't want to encourage nor discourage the likelihood of you getting a very high score because it is dependent on your english and math ability (and of course, testing ability), so I cannot give a contextual answer as to whether it is possible or not possible. There is definitely still a chance though! Basically, you are likely to get a high SAT math section score if you are able to complete precalculus and have a thorough understanding of trignometry; if you have not taken a precalc course, that is totally cool too, and I'll explain more about it below (it ends up being about test strategies). The english section is also dependent on your english classes but also test taking strategies (ie. if you have or am taking APLANG, the SAT english portion should not be too difficult).


Part 2: My Personal Experience

In my most recent SAT test, I received a 1550 (750 English and 800 Math). I am going to point out that I am definitely not a straight As student (though I really wish I was) and my final score was not without reason. I took over 50+ real SAT exams over junior year and senior year summer, redid some of them, and also did the practice tests from Princeton, Baron, and Kaplan. I did not end up going to any summer SAT boot camps due to some family reasons. So, is it worth it? Considerably yes but the amount of time spent on it might not be xD but it is up for you to decide!


Part 3: Resources (The Important Part) - I HIGHLY recommend completing the real SAT tests before moving on to the prep books because the real SAT is a better representation of the actual test, no matter how similar the prep book tests are. If you are buying the prep books for strategies, honestly, all of them covered pretty much the same content (read carefully, etc) so it wasn't as helpful: just buy one of the books and find the tests inside the books online. Here are some links that could come in handy:

1. https://www.mcelroytutoring.com/lower.php?url=44-official-sat-pdfs-and-82-official-act-pdf-practice-tests-free

2. https://focusonlearningcenter.com/printable-sat-practice-tests/

There's a lot of websites like these ^^

When you do complete the tests, remember to note down and actually take time to ask yourself why you originally put the incorrect answer. Sometimes it is a careless mistake, but it is also important to note these down. Consider creating a document (google doc, etc) to collect your reflection and types of questions you have missed (ex. in the english portion, you may realize that you often get 'evidence' questions wrong). ALSO ALSO the main reason why you should consider completing the real SAT test: THE SAT REPEATS PASSAGES. A not so very secret is that the SAT often repeats the passages (yes I am repetitive xD) from previous years and sometimes even have the exact same questions. Definitely don't try to memorize those pasts exams but do take time to take them!


Part 4: Test Strategies. This is the part where I'm going to say that a background with good english and math comes in handy, but it is not that necessary to complete the test if you have good test taking strategies. I have a friend who takes ESL English courses because she just transferred from another country and she got a really good score on the English portion, so! The following strategies are what I used and may or may not be good to use dependent on your preferences:

1. Specifically for english: mark the questions in the passage (ex. if question 2 asks about lines 3-4, bracket those two lines and write 2 next to it), skim through the entire passage and see if there are any transition words ("however", "unexpectedly", etc) and box them, skim through the parts that are not bracketed and read the parts that are bracketed and answer the questions chronologically ONLY for questions you are 80% sure about, don't think to much and skim the ones you aren't sure (cross out choices if you like, etc), after all 80% confidence questions are done - give the questions another skim through and see if you can answer them, if not - move on to the next passage. repeat the process. then go back to the questions you aren't sure about: this is particularly helpful because sometimes we might miss something we didn't see the first time and taking a break from the passage to move on to the passage helps with focus too. when going through questions you aren't sure about: attempt to answer all questions except about 2-3 you are absolutely no clue what the answer is. fill out the multiple choice bubbles on the scantron. with the remaining minutes, carefully think through those 2-3 questions and check to see if some of the answer choices you crossed out might also possibly be the answer; try to find evidence for each choice.

2. math: my only main suggestion is to go chronologically. if your attention span and focus isn't too great (like I am ahaha), then skip the questions that have a lot of words and come back to it later. if you have extra time, do each problem another time in a DIFFERENT way (ex. if the question says x+y = 1 and 2x+y = 3 and asks what is x, you could do it two ways (2x-x) + (y-y) = 3-1 so x=2 OR solve for y and plug it in for x - this is longer but this is to check your work more) OR just plug in x for both equations and see if it comes out right. if you usually have extra time in this portion, consider thinking of the answer to the question before looking at the choices!

3. If you take time to do all (or many) of the real, past SAT exams, you will find patterns and shortcuts of your own. The english questions are always the same but just a few words different and so is the math questions. Practice more and set a good schedule :)


Those are all my thoughts/suggestions so far, and good luck with your SAT!


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