SAT Strategy: Earning a Higher SAT Score

The teenagers who took the SAT test early in October began finding out their scores yesterday.

My son Ben was celebrating on Thursday because he improved his SAT scores in all three subjects and his math score was terrific. Ben’s SAT scores from May weren’t as good so it’s an easy decision for us to just send in his latest scores. Thanks to Score Choice, schools won’t even know about his older SAT result.

For a lot of students, the picture is more complicated.  What often happens is that a child does better on a portion of the SAT, say critical reading, during one test sitting, but worse on the math or the writing portion.

The makers of the SAT won’t allow students to pick and choose the highest subcategories to report from different test dates. So what happens to these kids?

Here’s the good news: colleges typically cherry pick the best SAT scores for applicants. Here’s an example:  let’s say a teenager got these scores on the June SAT:

Critical reading: 620

Math: 640

Writing: 590

Total score: 1850

In October she earned these SAT test scores:

Critical reading: 600

Math: 660

Writing: 600

Total score: 1860

When schools receive this teenager’s scores they would select the best subcategory score from the test dates so her adjusted SAT score would improve to 1880.

Most schools will automatically adjust the scores of their applicants, but it couldn’t hurt to ask individual schools about their SAT policies.

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