2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Do I have a shot with my reach schools if my Math SAT scores are dragging me down?

Hi there! I'm a rising senior interested in applying to a variety of schools - primarily, my schools of interest tend to be either safeties or reaches for me. I'm not sure if I really want to go to some of my reach schools yet, but I DO want to apply just to see if I would get in. I've played around with chancing simulators some, and for the most part, my statistics seem to be decent. I have a 3.91 GPA and a strong extracurricular record (at least according to the simulator). I've taken the SAT once and plan to take it two more times, the first of those times being on Saturday.

Here's the thing. I got a 540 on the June Math portion of the SAT, and I cannot for the life of me improve my score in practice. I still plan to practice hard, but in case things continue to Not Work Out For Me, I'd like to know: how screwed are my chances? Overall, my SAT score was a 1300 (I got a 760 in the English portion). My reach schools definitely expect a better overall score, and at this point the biggest thing I can do for that is bump up the math. If I were accepted into one of my reach schools, I would intend to pursue a degree in something writing or humanities related - definitely not STEM. But will colleges reject me on the principle of having a bad math score? Would the quality of my admissions essays help me at all?

Also - tips on improving that Math SAT score? I've been dragging my Barrons prep book around with me for most of the week, highlighting and annotating away, but all I have to show for it is a 50 point increase on one of my practice exams. I've been focusing in my trouble spots and critically looking at my wrong answers to see where gaps are, but it feels like I'm putting all my work in for naught. In particular, my no calculator work is heinous and I keep scoring around 50% on every timed Section 3 dry run I attempt. Help!


Definitely Not Left Brained

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@Aleecarboni2 years ago

Lots of schools are test optional - so if you can’t get your scores up, I would focus on your essays and extracurricular which mean more to admissions anyways. I wouldn’t stress.

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Hi @hannah28,

Thanks for your questions.

Before I answer, can you tell me what you are scoring on your practice tests?

And second what are your safety schools and your reach schools?

Thank you.

2 years ago

I would focus on getting your math part of the SAT section up because 1300 is already pretty solid for an SAT score. If you can increase your math section you can be looking at 1350-1400 which puts you at your reach schools. Also, colleges are mostly testing optional for this entering class so if you think reporting your SAT scores will lower your chances of admission if you think they will help you then submit that. You mentioned that you are not going into a STEM-related field- the burden of getting a near-perfect SAT score does not have such an impact if you are pursuing something that isn't as academically intense as a stem major would be. Again, the decision is completely up to you and who knows, maybe you'll get a 650 on this next SAT you're taking.

Best of luck,


What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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