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What is a good SAT score? May 31, 2008

Posted by Jason McDonald in : College Related , trackback

For years past, many dynamics have played a part in the admission process . . . essays, interviews, community involvement (i.e., extra curricular activities), recommendations written by teachers or community leaders, your high school GPA, and your SAT scores. More and more colleges in the last decade or two are questioning the validity of SAT scores. Do good SAT scores really predict success in college? Do bad SAT scores predict failure? Of course not.

So who cares about your SAT scores? Colleges. Most do, anyway. There are three sections on the SAT: Writing, Math and Critical Reading worth a possible 800 points each. An average SAT score is around 1540 out of 2400 points. Students with an average SAT score have many options, but a score above 2100 would place you in the 90th percentile (meaning you scored better than 90% of the test takers) and might cause the “name brand” schools to take a closer look at your admission application.

Listed below are some colleges that require SAT scores and “rough, unofficial estimates” of the SAT scores for those admitted at each school.

Iowa State – 1825
Ohio State – 1800
DePaul – 1750
Arizona – 1700
Indiana University- 1650
Brown University – 1380
Harvard – 2200
Williams – 2125
University of Virginia – 2000
UCLA – 1900

There are many colleges that are “SAT optional.” In fact, some of the administrators at these SAT-optional schools claim that the test is not a good predictor of success in college. They also argue that the SAT exaggerates the difference between wealthy students whose families can afford expensive SAT prep courses and poorer students who see the exam for the first time on test day. If this is true, then the SAT isn’t serving the purpose for which it was designed, which is to give equal opportunity to all students.

Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest (a research center that is opposed to standardized tests) says, “SAT-optional, it seems, is no longer a euphemism for ‘second-rate.’ Many of the most selective campuses in the country are concluding that they can make better admissions decisions without the SAT.” Students who don’t necessarily score well on standardized tests would be relieved to know that their admission to certain colleges could be based on other strengths, such as personal interviews and serving in their community.

Many colleges and universities have gone the way of SAT optional in their admissions process. For a complete list visit SAT optional schools. The schools listed below are just a few who consider the SAT scores only if the minimum GPA or class rank requirements are not met. As you’ll see if you visit the above link, there are hundreds and hundreds of schools that are SAT optional.

University of Texas
George Mason University in Virginia
Black Hills State University (SD)
Iowa State University
University of Wisconsin-Stout (Menomonie, WI)
Sarah Lawrence College (NY)
Texas A&M University (Galveston, TX)
Tennessee Temple University (TN)
University of Michigan (Flint, MI)
East Tennessee State University

Remember, just because a school is SAT optional does not mean it is easier to be admitted there. It simply means they rely more heavily on the other factors for your admission (essays, interviews, extra curricular activities, recommendations & GPA).

So, what is a good SAT score? We can conclude that a good SAT score is different for each student and college. Many schools often accept students with average SAT scores while others rarely do. We can also conclude that, depending on which colleges are candidates, SAT scores may not even be necessary for admission!

If you ARE looking into schools that require SAT scores, be sure to maximize your score by preparing for the test. A good SAT score for you is about 200-300 points higher than your score the first time you take the test.


1. Jason McDonald - April 29, 2010

To all students:

If you have a question along the lines of “my SAT scores are X, can I get into Y college” or any other questions regarding college admission, I highly recommend contacting your high school guidance counselor. If (s)he is not able to answer your questions, consider asking a private college counselor. Here’s one I recommend who’s been posting to this site for some time:

Mindy Popp
Popp & Associates
Boston, MA

If you have questions pertaining to raising your SAT scores, be sure to sign up for my free e-tips and check out my professional services. I am no longer accepting posts on this blog page in order to give my premium members my full attention.


2. Mindy Popp - April 20, 2010

Dear Rachel,
I can appreciate your concerns about how your GPA might affect your application to UVA and to colleges in general. That said, I recommend that you create a diverse college list and not focus on just one school. You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Speak with your guidance counselor and have an honest conversation about your college options given your grades, rigor of courses taken in high school, extra-curricular involvement, etc. If you want to learn more about the accepted student profile of UVA students, contact the University’s admission office. If your high school has Naviance (software program), you can also check the statistics of graduates from your high school and what credentials students had who matriculated to UVA. Lastly, your grades in 12th grade do matter to colleges so keep them up as much as you can.
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

3. Jason McDonald - April 19, 2010


Congratulations on your success. Whether your scores were in the 600′s or 700′s my answer would be the same — yes, you can improve your scores. By how much depends how much effort you can put toward learning and applying the strategies. Judging by your academic and extracurricular success, I’d guess you have a lot of motivation. Start with my e-tips and explore options from there. Regarding admissions to UVA, I’ll have someone with more experience there weigh in.


4. rachel - April 18, 2010

Oh darn, I actually got a 620 for reading and 650 for writing, haha I wish I got 720 and 750 though

5. rachel - April 18, 2010

Hi Jason,
The past march sat, I got a
720- reading
740- math
750- writing
This is actually the best scores out of the 3 I have taken so far,
I am barely in the top 10 % of my class of 310,
I am trying to keep up with my workload, but it seems impossible seeing as how ap subject tests, and ap exams are coming up quickly.
I pretty much slacked freshman and sophmore year and only took adv. classes in sophmore year,
I tried in junior year and took ap bio instead of ap eng.
I heard that not taking ap eng severely hurts your chances in getting into UVA. One of my friends got accepted in to william and mary but not UVA and this was because he didn not take ap eng.
I was planing on taking
ap eng ap gov, ap environ., ap calc ab, and ap physics.
I know this will probably ruin my senior year but I want to take anything that I can that will hopefully help my chances. I also heard that colleges do not look at senior year but is there a chance that I will make it to UVA with a current overall gpa of 4.1 weighted? It seems that no matter how hard I try, I cannot raise my overall gpa because of my freshman year. I am in a ton of extracurriculars the most importat being,
MUN and the Peninsula korean youth orchestra. I am also in spanish honor society, and going to go into national honor society, I also play lacrosse,
Is it possible for me to still have a chance at UVA? and Is it possible to raise my sat scores?
My senior friends have been getting into carnegie mellon and MIT and this just discourages me further seeing how their academic history is far more instense than mine.

6. Jason McDonald - April 6, 2010

Jaime —

You need a good guide. I provide my premium members with one that has all you need to know as well as forum support with videos showing easy solutions to real math problems. If you haven’t already, sign up for my free e-tips. After that, try the member area and you’re sure to see improvements.


7. Jason McDonald - April 6, 2010

Nika — I sent you an email.

Athena — You should consult a high school counselor, public or private, if you want an official answer. I just help students get their scores higher! In my non-pro opinion though, I see no reason to keep them. They’re only going up from here and scores at this age will not qualify for any merit scholarships. Just keep a paper copy for fun because they’re something to be proud of!


8. Nika - April 6, 2010

Hello! I’m Nika from North Carolina, I need major advice on getting my SAT scores higher. I am a junior and I’ve taken the SAT once. It was horrible! Critical Reading-390, Math-400, Writing-440. I really want to improve in all sections of the test. I take it again May 1st, can you please assist me? I need help, like everyone else, this test is stressful and I’m worried I won’t get accepted into a good university.

9. Athena C. - April 5, 2010


My son is only 11-year-old and he took SAT test on March 13 2010,. He scored 770 in Math, 640 in critical reading and 660 in writing. The total is 2070. And I just found out that his scores will be deleted in 6 month because of his age unless we place a request to keep them. Should we keep the scores? What’s the impact if we keep them? Thanks!

10. Jaime - April 3, 2010


I jsut took the sats in march of 2010 and i got an 1600….i need to increase my score atleast by 300 points and i have no other choice than to take it in may…so i have a month to prepare…what should i do to prepare??


11. Mindy Popp - April 2, 2010

Hi Eric,
Thanks for your e-mail. If you are interested in attending UCLA, you should speak with an admission representative from the university to learn more about the academic profile of an average admitted student and how you compare. Also, check the university’s admission website and speak with your guidance counselor. Your counselor should be able to tell you if other students from your high school have attended UCLA and what their academic profiles included as far as GPA and SAT scores.
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

12. Mindy Popp - April 2, 2010

Hi John,
Thanks for your e-mail. There are colleges that request standardized test results (SAT and ACT) and there are also test optional colleges which enable students to apply without submitting any test scores. Regardless of what type of college you apply to, one that requires SAT/ACT scores or one that does not, test scores are just one of the factors considered in the college admission process. It sounds like you are a very strong student and I agree that enrolling in an SAT prep class could be helpful. Keep up your great grades and your extra-curricular involvement. You will have good college options if your transcript stays strong; the transcript (grades earned and rigor of classes taken) is the most important piece of a student’s college application.
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

13. Jason McDonald - April 2, 2010

Your SAT scores are about average while your other factors are well above average. an SAT review course is a good place to start if you have the money. sign up for my free e-tips if you haven’t already.

14. John - April 2, 2010

Hi, I am a junior in high school and am involved in varsity basketball and track, national honors society, and in many clubs. I currently maintain a 3.9 gpa and scored a 1490 on the sat’s. (410-reading, 580-math, 500-essay) Is that a bad score and what should I do? How much do university colleges pay attention to your sat scores alone? I just started an sat prep class and am planning to retake them in may.

15. Eric - April 2, 2010

I recently got my SAT score and i got a 1800
Critical Reading = 570
Math= 610
Writing = 620
but im wondering if that
score is good enough to get into UCLA if i have a UC GPA of 3.65?

16. Jason McDonald - March 1, 2010


Do everything I mention in the free e-course for starters. You can continue to increase your score from there by signing up for the member area where I have everything available including videos, an e-book, and a forum to ask specific questions and get personalized guidance from me at every step along the way.


17. anna - February 28, 2010

i am really upset since i gave my sat exam on the 23rd of jan 2010 and i got a 1300.
i was shocked at the result i really need to do better.
im going to retake the test in october.
but i really dont know how to go about studying it.
please give me a guide line or how i should study for it

18. Jason McDonald - February 16, 2010


I agree with your teachers that 1410 is impressive for English being your second language. A 400-point gain is doable but would take a lot of work and learning strategies. Have you taken my free e-course? That’s a good place to start. I don’t know if schools take into account English as a second language but you can email Mindy Popp with questions like that. Her contact info is below. Dream big and use professionals like Mindy and myself to keep you in check!


19. Raghda - February 16, 2010

my name is raghda, i go to an american school in egypt. I took the SAT in January and got a 1410. My teachers say that it’s a really good score since its my first time and english is my second language. I plan to take the May SAT and I was hoping to pass at least 1800 this time. Do you think that if I apply for an American Univeristy in the US they would give me the benefit of the doubt since it’s not my first language? Do you think I’m letting my dreams take too much control of my future?
Thank you!

20. Jason McDonald - February 13, 2010


I’m happy to help you raise your score. Just give me a call — the number’s on my contact page.


21. mayra - February 13, 2010

okay so i got a really bad score..
i honestly tried really really really hard!
college means everything to me and i am
trying my very hardest to do anything i can
to higher my scores..my math teachers havent
really been good my school doesnt have good
teachers they never teach they just give us
busy work.. i really need help
my score was bad it was : 1100
writing :410
:/ it’s very depressing but i do believe there
is room for improvement..? if i get the right help.
any help woud be appreciated. i have a family of 5
my mom raises us all by herself she is a widow.

i really need help raising my SATs scores..
i’m trying my best but my school doesn’t really
offer much, my freshmen year i was put in a remedial
math but the teacher would never teach it would
always be book work and she wouldnt explain it.

please i am begging, i want this more than anything
please help me higher my SAT scores.

22. James - February 11, 2010

I increased my scores by 40 and 50 points per section:
Critical Reading: 500
Writing: 520
Math: 570
That is just about what I need to get into my college of choice. Thanks for the advice. If I have anymore questions, I’ll be sure to come back and leave a comment.

23. Jason McDonald - February 11, 2010

James and Yesha,

People that study for the test improve, on average, 50 points per section. Some don’t improve and some gain more. My students typically raise their scores closer to 100 points per section we focus on. Best of luck to you both. Let me know if I can be of help.

24. yesha - February 11, 2010

i am a senior in my final year
i just took the jan 23 2010 sat 1 test n got
mths 640, critical reading 570 n writng 500
its my 1st attempt n i need financial aid to study in america
i wanted to know if i really ought to retake the test but i dont know what to do… i am in a fix the minimum requirement for my selected unis are 700 for each n i didnt even come to its border….
will i be reconsideered by these unis if i retake the sat1

25. James - February 10, 2010

My name is James. I’m a senior and I have taken the SAT once already on June 6, 2009. I retook the SAT on January 23, 2010 and I get my scores tomorrow. I’m just wondering, but how much do students usually raise their SAT scores?

Let me tell you how my first SAT experience was and maybe someone can give me an estimate of how much I’ll improve. My first experience was terrible. I had no clock or watch, I had a small desk (I’m a fairly good sized person), and it was 90 degrees with no fan. I’m also sort of claustrophobic and I was in a small classroom with 30+ people. I couldn’t concentrate and I was nervous. I also hadn’t had math for a year since I was taking other courses towards my advanced diploma. On June 25, I got my score. :( They were terrible:
Critical Reading: 460
Math: 520
Writing: 470 (7 essay: 3 and 4 score)

Since then I have taken advanced math/pre-calculus/trigonometry and refreshed all my math skills. I also have written about 7 essays since then.

When I retook it, I was calm and wasn’t nervous. I had a giant desk all to myself, the room was perfect, and there were only 6 per classroom.

I’m trying to get into Virginia Tech and my scores right now aren’t so great and I’m afraid I won’t get accepted. How much do you think I might improve? I’m stressing over whether or not I’m going to do well and I’m scared I won’t have a great future. Just as an additive, I’m ranked 15/140 at my school and I have a weighted 4.0 GPA and 3.7 unweighted, if that helps. I find my scores embarassing and when people ask me what I got, I am too embarassed to tell them. Please help. :)

26. Mindy Popp - February 10, 2010

Dear Seb,
Thank you for your e-mail. It sounds like you are already a strong student at your high school. Though the college application process is a couple of years away for you, I do believe that you will have many college options if your current academic performance continues. Colleges place particular importance on an applicant’s transcript- both the rigor of courses taken and grades earned. Continue to challenge yourself with demanding classes in 11th and 12th grades. Also, maintain involvement in extracurricular programs, athletics included. Think about applying for a leadership role in one of your clubs or sports. The community service work that you are doing will also be a positive factor for you when you apply to college. As you progress through high school, meet with your guidance counselor to make sure that you are taking all of the right steps to have a successful college process. I am happy to offer assistance as well.

For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

27. seb - February 10, 2010

I’m a sophomore student with grades 85-92 for the most part. I took an SAT and got a 1690. I am active outside the classroom volunteering time at an after school program for young kids and also participate in sports. Without being a straight A student, what schools do I have for options?

28. Jason McDonald - January 8, 2010

Maria and Sean,

If you’re serious about increasing your score, call me and I’ll give you a free 15-minute consult to understand your specific situation and explain how I may be able to help. My number’s on the contact page up top.


29. Maria - January 7, 2010


I need help!! im 16 and a junior in highschool. My gpa us a 3.9 but my SAT scores were so low. in the 400s for all the sections. and i did study prep attended professional tutoring!!! and still didnt work. I want to be a pediatrician in the future but my SAT score is ruining my DREAMMMSSS!!!!!!
i wanted to go to columbia university or NYU but ever since i got my test scores all i can think of is flipping burgerssss
please help me what should i do???

i signed up to take the ACT soon iheard that was easy!!
please help before i loose all hope!!!

30. Mindy Popp - December 30, 2009

Hi Sean,
There are numerous strategies that you can try in order to earn a higher SAT score. Taking standardized tests is a lot like playing a sport- the more you practice, the better you will be. Jason can likely offer specific strategies to you, but in general, studying for the exam by taking practice tests, completing test prep exercises, etc. can be very helpful. I wish you luck and happy new year!
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

31. Sean - December 20, 2009

I took the SAT recently and recieved a score of 560 cr, 700m, and 540 w. As you can see my writing and reading are my loest scores. My goal though is to break 2000 how can i do that

32. Mindy Popp - December 9, 2009

Hi Connor,
Congratulations on your scores from your first SAT! What a great way to start :-) Selective colleges, including those in the Ivy League, take into consideration a student’s entire file: high school transcript, SAT/ACT test scores (if school requires them), extra curricular involvement, letters of recommendation, etc. I can’t tell you whether higher scores on the SAT would give you a better shot at being accepted to an Ivy League institution. There is not an exact formula or mold that students fit in college admissions. The students getting accepted to Ivy League schools are diverse in their academic strengths, talents, extra curricular accomplishments, etc. You should speak with your high school guidance counselor as well as consider Naviance data if your school uses it. Ask your counselor where past students who had grades and SAT scores like yours have been accepted. Finally, keep in mind that there are no guarantees on the outcomes of the college application process. If you go into this process with an open mind and realistic expectations, you should be fine. Craft a balanced college list with your high school counselor. If you do choose to apply to an Ivy League institution, hope for the best, but be prepared for any outcome. I would give this advice to any student because the Ivies are all very selective in admission.
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

33. connor - December 6, 2009

I scored a 760 on math, 740 on critical reading, and a 710 on writing. I have a 4.1 at Boston College High in my junior year and I work at a local homeless shelter, have visited New Orleans to rebuild houses, I’m on the student council, in NHS, and I”m a student mentor. But I”m not here to brag. I have no illusions that there are thousands of kids who surpass me in all of these categories, not to mention some of my friends. I am really tring to get into a high grade Ivy league school such as princeton or harvard, but am unsure if thats even a remote possibility. Also should I try to raise my sat scores because that was my first try? Again i am not here to gloat about what i’ve accomplished because i’d be wasting my breath so to speak. I seriously want to know if i have a chance at the best schools.

34. Jason McDonald - December 4, 2009


That’s a good Q for your guidance counselor at school or a professional consultant like Mindy listed below. If you have time and interest to increase your score, that’s more up my alley.

35. kimberly - December 3, 2009

are there any colleges I can get into in the state of Georgia with a SAT score of 1350

36. Denise - November 29, 2009

i got a 1650 on the SAT’s on my first time taking it. I’ve signed up to take the SAT next weekend and im wondering if i should take them again. The real reason im asking this is because this girl in my school took the SATs and got like a 1320 the first time and then turned around and got a 1710. please answer. i need advice. my guidance conselor says that my SAT scores are good enough but i think i need a second opinion.

37. Jason McDonald - November 27, 2009

Good for you for turning it around, Devonte. Let me know if I can help.

38. Devonte K. - November 27, 2009

Im a Junoir(16) at my highschool. Im African-american(No SAT Sterotype label please)i took the SAT to have a feel(first time Nov.&7th). I didnt study at all. And Score a 1210 (CR 490 Math340 380 WR) i know thats below average. I think the SAT is a 60% Common sense test) I didnt guess i answer fairly in Critical reading and Writing) And hardly answer in math. My essay i got a 6/12..but i only wrote 2/6 Sentence paragraphs. I ran into this website by searching for SAT questions. Im fairly smart…but my gpa doenst show it. Right now..I have a 1.9752 gpa(Really Bad!)…thats for years of not doing my homework and projects in class but Unit test and etc to pass. Right now..Im turning it around and Im looking at trade school or local liberal university will take me(Hopefully). I plan to study for my SAT and most of my math teachers told me i need to improve on my Math..6% percentile. thats bad. I really think if i can study…I can get a 1600 or 1700. Most of my friends in IB&Honors got 1400-1600 and Junoirs, on the SAT for the first time. Im a open-minded type of guy…i hate sterotypes and label.Im taking my Education serious..i wish i can turn the clock back. I run track and im good at art..A.P art studio is what im taking. I want to either become a graphic designer or electronic tech.
My Dream College was Ohio State, Buckeyes football… but idont plan to leave state..im more of a local..smaller college enviroment guy. “Brand Name’ Colleges Ask for SAT of 1800-2200 or better

39. Mindy Popp - November 8, 2009

My first recommendation is that you schedule a meeting with your high school guidance/college counselor to discuss your candidacy for Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. S/he will likely be very familiar with these schools’ acceptance history of students from your high school. Also, you should visit both schools and learn more about the academic profile of the average admitted student. While you are preparing to retake the SAT, you should get started on your college applications, including the personal statement or the main college essay. Good luck as you move forward with the next steps in your application process!
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

40. Connor - November 8, 2009

i recently took the sat for the first time and scored a 1650 without study at all (CR-560, M-570, W-520). i know i messed up in the essay but i can improve that better. i am taking it again in december and i am positive that i can score much higher on it with the studying i am doing (i obtained two princeton review book from my best friend).

i am also in the International Baccalaureate program in my school and have around a 3.3 GPA with the grades from my IB classes. In IB, we have to do a lot of community service (150 hours in the end). ive been involved in sports every year and am on the rugby team for school, even though its not technically a school sport but more of a club type ordeal. i havent applied for college quite yet because i want to finish taking the SAT two more times to improve my scores.

i live in georgia and want to try and get in georgia tech which is my first choice for college with the university of georgia coming in second, which im pretty sure i can get in. i need feedback on whether i am on the right track or not and if i have a good chance at admission into georgia tech.

41. Mindy Popp - October 29, 2009


Don’t feel discouraged after receiving your results! You have additional opportunities to take the test this fall before submitting any Regular Decision applications. GA Tech, like most colleges, accepts students who earn scores within a certain range. Also, please keep in mind that colleges consider more than SAT scores when evaluating applications for admission. Your transcript (rigor of courses and grades earned), personal statement/college essay, letters of recommendation from your teachers and guidance counselor as well as other factors will influence an admission decision. If you create a balanced college list with your guidance counselor and include safety, middle, and reach schools, you should have favorable options in the spring!
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

42. valerie - October 29, 2009

Hi, my name is Valerie I am a senior, my first time taking the sat I scored 530 in reading and writing and a 540 in math, I want to get into GATech but I have no clue how to increase my scores, they accept 1700+. Am I crazy trying to get in?

43. Jason McDonald - July 28, 2009


I haven’t heard of wordsmart but would be shocked if vocab alone would increase your score that much. Yes, my program covers help for CR. I personally focus on math (because that keeps me busy enough!) but I have a tutor on board for CR and writing. She has taught SAT review courses as well as worked as an SAT essay grader. Paying members have full access to her via the forum which is included in the monthly fee. She is also available for one-on-one tutoring and essay reviews. Let me know if you have any other questions.

44. Spundan - July 28, 2009

Hi, and thanks Mindy and Jason for the advice. Just FYI and for everyone to help me. My SAT math scores are pretty decent, i do get like 700′s on math and stuff but my Reading is like always 450-550, and i want it to get at least to 620+ almost always every time i take the SAT. I am currently doing this WORDSMART program that’s supposed to increase ones score by at least 160 with 20+ hrs of use. Can anyone tell me if this program really works through research or personal use, and also Jason does your program offer reading help? or just Mathematics? Thanks!

45. Mindy Popp - July 28, 2009

Hi Spundan,

It sounds like you have worked hard in high school and have made the most of the opportunities in your high school, both from an academic and extra-curricular perspective. As you prepare to start the college process, I encourage you to do all that you can to keep your grades strong for the purposes of applying to the University of Cincinnati and/or anywhere else. With regard to your admission possibilities for the University of Cincinnati’s Biomed Program, staff members in the University’s admission office would be your best resources to answer your specific questions. They can provide additional information about the admitted student profile for this specific program and let you know how you compare. I also recommend that you speak with your school college counselor or guidance counselor to discuss other possibilities for your college list.
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

46. Jason McDonald - July 28, 2009


You sound like a very driven student. Congrats on that — you’re going to do well wherever you go to school if you keep that up.

Regarding SAT’s: It doesn’t surprise me that your score stayed the same or went down slightly by simply retaking it. The truth is, without changing the way one approaches the test, that’s what happens. If you really want to increase your score, check out my member area. I charge a very reasonable monthly fee and provide videos that show you how to solve real SAT problems with ease. And I personally answer your specific questions as you study. Try it out as it’s free for the first week.

Regarding admissions: I highly suggest you speak with a professional guidance counselor. You need them to help you not only figure out if it’s worth your time to apply to certain schools, but to help you maximize your chances of admissions and scholarships. You can’t put all of your eggs in one basket by narrowing in on Cincinnati’s Bio med program.

So “wll i be able to make it into the Biomed program with at least a 65% scholarship, with my ethnicity, alumni and faculty, SAT scores, School etc? ” I don’t know. But a guidance counselor may be able to point you in the right direction.

47. Spundan - July 27, 2009

My extra curricular activites incluse: Tennis, Track and Field, Peer Counseling program, Helping out ast Elementary schools, helping out at inner city preschools, I also worked fulltime in a structural biology lab at the age of 14. I aslo found out that many of the local schools private and public require jsut about 5 hours of service per year each year in highschool but my school has a requirment of 20-25, so i have 100′s of service hours to also add to my resume.

48. Spundan - July 27, 2009

Hi, I am currently a Junior in the summer before Senior Year. I currently attend a very well renouned prep school, which contains a very unique program. Bright kids are brought in from 3 states (Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky). We take a terra-nova standardized test. Those who score above 90 percentile are admitted. My school has 250 students. Im not finished yet, each student depending on there scores is permitted, and given the option to skip 1, 2 and count it 3 grades. I came out of 5th and went into 8th instantly. My freshman year was pretty solid for a 12-13 year old, i had about a 3.4-3.5 GPA. but thats really good for the all honors curriculum we were given straight out of elementary school. But, then i sort of slacked off ?(or maybe the curriculum got tougher). Like i said before i am almsot a senior jsut 20 more days to go and my GPA is clockin in at around 3.1,3.2. However i have taken all honors classes and 3 AP’s total (US history, Biology and Lit). I took the SAT first about a yeasr ago and i got a 1620, then i tried again thinking i would increase to my goal of (1850) but i got a 1600, then jsut recently i got a 1570. My SAT has been dropping my GPA has been dropping, but mainly because of so many of my extra curricular activities. I want to get into University of Cincinnati’s Biomed Program, and the minimum is a 1200 reading and math combined score. I have gotten a 1150 reading and math. I will graduate at age 15 from highschool, my ethnicity is Asian (Indian), my mom went to grad school there and my father is a faculty member so i can get free tuition for a non-career degree. Biomed is a career degree and i want to get good scholarships. My question is, wll i be able to make it into the Biomed program with at least a 65% scholarship, with my ethnicity, alumni and faculty, SAT scores, School etc? Again i have a high of 1620 on SAT… =(. I am taking 2 more SAT’s abd i have been doing alot of practice ones but am only clockin at around 1700 or so… i dont know if that is improvement or not because i havent taken the official test yet. Please help me regarding this issue.

49. Jason McDonald - July 7, 2009


A 1650 is not good or bad in and of itself (and it doesn’t matter what your friends got). Good/bad really depends on where you’re hoping to go to college. The better question is whether you could do better with some prep. I bet so.

Take my free e-course and you’ll see it’s not that hard to move your score in the right direction ;)

50. Julie - July 3, 2009

so i got a 1650 on my SATs
540 math
530 critical writing
580 essay
is that good or bad?

51. Jason McDonald - June 29, 2009


Hope you had a good weekend. That’s a great starting score, congrats. The flip side of that coin though is the higher your score, the harder it is to increase. The 100-point gain you’re seeking is very realistic if you’re open to doing things differently. Tactics that work in school don’t necessarily work on the SAT.

It’s to your advantage that your CR score is the highest as that’s the hardest to improve. To get the math and essay score up, take my e-course. It’s free and is a good way to test if you’re willing to try new time-saving strategies. If so, sign up for my premium member area and I’ll bet your membership fee you’ll attain the 100-point gain you’re seeking. Money back if not.

52. Shafiyal - June 26, 2009

Hi I’m a 17 year old junior and I’m considering taking the SAT one more time in October. I got a solid 2000 last time I took the exam with a 660 in W, a 680 in CR, and a 660 in M. I was hoping to bump those scores up some more because my goal was to get a 2100. Any suggestions on what I can do to improve?

53. Jason McDonald - June 9, 2009

Congrats on your math gain, Amanda. It was 580 last you posted here, so that’s pretty solid — 100 point gain! I’ll send you an email about getting your CR score up.

Yes, you should take the SAT again in the fall assuming you can prep and prove to yourself via practice tests that you can raise your score.

54. Amanda - June 9, 2009

Hi..It is Amanda again… I took the SAT again in March…My scores were math 680 ( up from 600 in January) CR 650 (same as January) and Writing 600 ( down 10 from January). I am still wanting to go to Notre Dame and I understand that my scores are just in the mid range. I took the SAT subject tests (3) in June. My questions to you are : 1) Should I retake the SAT in October ? and 2) How do I prep to bring the CR score up at least to the math score? Thanks Again

55. Jason McDonald - June 2, 2009


That’s very much an acceptable score — you will have many options even if you don’t take the SAT again. If you’d like to round your score out and increase your math score before you take it again, be sure to take my free e-course.

56. Saskia - June 2, 2009


I’m 16 years old and am a junior. I’m from Guyana, but attend the International Academy of Suriname, which is an American school. I just took the SAT for the first time in may and i got an overall score of 1740-630 in reading, a poor 450 in math, and a 660 in writing with an essay score of 8. I had no clue about how much i was supposed to get and so don’t know if this is an “acceptable” score. Right now i am averaging A’s and B’s (Not sure what my GPA is) Would this be a good score for getting into schools?

57. Jason McDonald - June 2, 2009

You got it, Zachary. Add the three up and voila. The essay score (0-12 possible) is built into your writing score (out of 800).

58. Zachary - June 2, 2009

I recently took the SAT and i recieved scores of: Critical Reading 570 Math 550 Writing 490, and i was not completely sure if i add my three scores and this is my total score. Do i have a 1610? i was just curious because i cant seem to find any helpful information online.

59. Mindy Popp - May 27, 2009

Many colleges will take your highest math, critical reading, and writing scores from multiple exam dates to generate your highest comprehensive score. UVA and UCLA accept students whose SAT scores fall into ranges as opposed to students with one specific score. Also, remember that SAT scores are just one part of the admissions picture. Some colleges that are test-optional don’t even require any standardized tests in the admissions process!
For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

60. Mindy Popp - May 27, 2009

It sounds like you have a lot going for you and you will be an attractive applicant to many schools! SAT scores are one of many factors considered in the admission process, not the only factor. Many students take the SAT twice and take advantage of SAT preparation options. Your scores very well may go up on the second round. Don’t be discouraged! In addition, continue to work hard in your classes and in your extra-curricular activities. For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

61. Mindy Popp - May 27, 2009

NYU, like most colleges and universities, consider a number of factors when making an admission decision on an application. There is not one specific “good” or “bad” SAT score for NYU and most other schools. What is more common is an average SAT score or score range for accepted students. That said, other application materials including your transcript, essay(s), are also very important. I wish you luck with the process! For additional information, please contact Mindy Popp at Popp & Associates, an educational consulting firm in Boston, MA. mpopp{at}poppandassociates{dot}com. http://www.poppandassociates.com.

62. Lou - May 27, 2009

Hi everyone!

I’ve read some of the posts regarding your SAT scores. I understand your anxieties for school and it’s but normal to feel that way. First, you have to acknowledge your current feelings, anxieties and fears before you could think clear and plan out what you should do next. It helps when we list down our plans, goals or objectives in life because most if not all people at this generation are “visuals” meaning we prefer to learn by seeing things or looking at things. If you are able to put into paper what is in your head then you could also weigh your options if and when things do not happen as expected or according to plan. It also helps if you could inlcude “possibilities” of certain outcomes so as to prepare yourself in a way especially if the outcome or results are not good.

I wish you all well…. I hope Jason this would help your students.

God bless..

63. yvonne - May 25, 2009

hi, im yvonne. im from singapore. i took my sat for the first time and got 1740. is it bad or what? 670maths 520cr 550writing. im intending to enroll in nyu next fall. can you help me?thanks.

64. Colin - May 24, 2009

I receieved my SAT Scores yesterday . I received 510-CR; 650-M ;
580-W . I attend a prep school with a B average . This is my first attempt . I am looking /was hoping for schools like Brown and Columbia .
What can I do ?
I am told that scores inly increase onlyby 1 to 2 percent .
While I am a minority , I DO NOT want to be considered or given the benefit of the pen because of color is darker .
Not to say this will even happen.
I have worked hard …AP Classes , Degining programs and writing grants to fund to them ; lettered football and track , a variety of activities.
Summer Residential Programs at pretigious colleges.
I know there are a lot of SAT OPTIONAL COLLEGES out there —-but NOT mine.
Can some help !!!
What should I do ?

65. Jason P. - May 22, 2009

Hey i recently got my SAT just yesterday
Critical Reading-620
Writing-590 Essay 9
I was very pleased of the math section but the thing i am concerned about is the Writing score. I am trying to get into UVA or UCLA and was wondering if that is enough.
Also, I am taking the SATs again and was wondering if colleges take the best total score of the SAT of best score of each section from each SAT I’ve taken.

Thanks in advance.

66. Jason McDonald - May 12, 2009

Anything’s possible, including a perfect 2400. Especially if you haven’t had geometry or Algebra II yet!

67. Anonymous - May 12, 2009

Could I get close to a perfect score (2400, I think?) by my Junior year if I got a 169 (1690 on SAT’s) on my PSAT’s in 7th grade? I didn’t really study, and I don’t really know the scale on which these things are scored. I haven’t studied Geometry yet – that’s next year…

So? Do I have a chance?

68. Jason McDonald - April 23, 2009


Hmm. Theatre major with lower math SAT score . . . Gary?

Assuming Gary says it matters, more important than if you should “shell out the money” is if you are realistically going to “shell out your time.” No program will do you much good if you’re too busy to practice/apply/master the skills before you take the real deal.

69. Tiffany - April 23, 2009

I’m an A-B student (3.667 gpa) but because of a busy schedule to prepare for a major of theatre in college, I couldn’t fit in a math class this year. The official SAT study guide practice tests have me roughly at a 670 in critical reading, a 740 in writing, and a 560 in math. While the combined score is okay, I worry that my math score will make out of state schools run for the hills. Am I just being a worrywart, or should I shell out the money for a math refresher?

70. Jason McDonald - April 14, 2009


Congrats on your academic achievements and drive to up your score even further! Practice, practice would be my number one suggestion if you’ve already read a study guide. Practice from The Official SAT Study Guide only, of course. If you take a practice test or two and your scores aren’t budging, consider a tutor and interview several.

71. elise - April 9, 2009

i just got my SAT scores back and i got a 2040. 720 math 670 reading and 650 writing. i read an andover book on improving your SAT score but what else can i do to make it better. also i have a 4.05 GPA and take all the AP classes and am in CALC II at drake. im a junior and i got a 30 on my ACT. what schools do u think will be looking at me or that i could get into?

72. Jason McDonald - April 8, 2009

Hi Tory,

Your daughter has the score spread that I’m best with (math has the most room for growth!). Call me if you’d like a free 20-min phone consult to help point you/her in the right direction. (207) 239-5757.

73. Tory - April 8, 2009

More of the same. My daughter just got her scores back for her SATs and she is not to happy. This was her first time out. Her score 500m/550cw 590 essay. She is a great student with all AP classes and one of the top students in her school. I know that in a few weeks the school has a 2 or 3 week program to help the kids but is there more she can do? Just looking for some help!

74. Jason McDonald - April 8, 2009

1530 is right around average. The better question is could you do better? Poke around this site and I hope you’ll conclude “yes.”

75. Olivia - April 7, 2009

Okay so for my first time without really doing any studying, is 1530 and okay score?? Or does that just suck??

76. Gary Canter AKA "The College Guy" - April 7, 2009

Hey here’s a response specifically to Katie and Josh, as well as an introduction of sorts…

I’m the “College Guy” who Jason has referred to in the past – some of my newsletters are listed as posts on Jason’s web site. We both live in Southern Maine and we make referrals to one another – Jason is the SAT fellow and I do more general college and career and financial aid advising. Jason and I are working on a way to make my consulting services available to you via his web site – stay tuned for more information. For now, I’ll try and respond to questions in this manner and Jason can determine when and how to put folks directly in touch with me if you have more specific questions and needs for the advice I might be able to offer.

Josh, congratulations: you have the most bizarre set of SAT scores I’ve ever encountered! My first inclination is to suggest that the SAT made a scoring mistake (or perhaps you made one by inadvertently writing your answers to the writing sections in the wrong answer boxes!)

If I were you I’d phone SAT customer services and ask about their score review service. It costs something like $50 and I think it might be worth you while to make sure that indeed you rolled “twin 800s” AND got a 400 in writing. Just doesn’t add up to me.

That said, those scores will get noticed by colleges, and not necessarily in a bad way. They’ll give you something to talk about. In the mean time, you need to focus in on prepping for taking a subsequent SAT Reasoning Tests (they’re offered this May, June, next October and November) and work primarily on the writing section.

BTW, in case you were wondering, the new SAT “Score Choice” option won’t help you here in terms of ‘splitting’ your scores and allowing you to submit only the crit reading and math scores, and omitting the writing. The new Score Choice option let’s you send or “hide” scores from an entire testing session – you can’t send partial sections. (For multiple subject tests taken on a single test date you CAN choose individual tests to submit and to hold back).

Hope that helps! Write back or email me directly if you want to pursue your question further.


Katie, don’t despair. First , learn the “new math” of the new SATs: Old SAT had a verbal and math section, scores ranging from 200 – 800; 500 average, so an average score on the old SAT was 1000. New SAT has three sections: critical reading, math and writing, scores still range from 200 – 800 and 500 is still about average so an average score on the new SAT is 1500.

Your scores of 1480 is for all intent and purposes an average score, and will get you considered by most non-reach schools. Keep working on it, read Jason’s advice about ways to improve your scores and try the test again later this spring or in the fall.

You didn’t mention where you’re from, or what type of student you are. Colleges consider SAT scores (and ACT scores, which you might consider if you’re a math/science type kid!) as only part of the formula – your grades and rigor of your schedule (what classes you take and the amount of honors and AP courses you take), your activities, your essays, letters of rec. etc. etc. Also, each of the schools you mentioned are public schools and you’re going to get an advantage applying to your own State U. system than you are with an out of state school.

So I’d need to know more about you before I could ‘handicap’ your chances at those schools. Oh, and according to a quick check I just did Kansas State is an SAT/ACT optional school, so if your scores don’t measure up you can choose not to submit them (and you’ll be evaluated on the strength of your other determining factors.

In general to anyone who’s read this far, if you want to know where you stand w/regards to a college’s SAT or ACT scores phone admissions and ask an advisor to tell you the average profile of an admitted student – sometimes colleges like to inflate these sort of numbers/measures but it will give you a starting point. And one of my favorite mantras is well to consider here: Don’t let anyone tell you you CAN’T get in to a school – instead do your homework and figure out how to best present yourself in an application.

Take care,

The College Guy

77. Jason McDonald - April 7, 2009

Katie & Josh — Gary, the College Guy will advise.

Anjana — The essay factors into your overall writing score and can add between 120 and 170 points to that section (out of 800).

For Adam & Anjana’s “how do I improve my scores?” question:

1. Buy The Official SAT Study Guide for its 8 full-length practice tests.
2. Take one of the practice tests and score it.
3. Attack weaknesses both in your skills and SAT strategies. Repeat starting at #2.

#3 is the most important step in improving your score. Most students that study at all just take practice test after test and don’t improve much, if at all. If you can afford a private tutor or a class they can help. The most important factor though is if you have the willingness to apply what you learn. Tactics that work in school don’t necessarily work on the SAT!!

I offer a free e-course and a very affordable member area that works great for students that need to boost their math score most of the three sections. You can check it out for a week for free.

78. Adam - April 7, 2009

Hi I”m a junior attending a high school in northern New Jersey. Although people constantly comment on how smart I am (including family members), I only got a 1750 on my SAT, which isn’t very good. To be honest, it really shook my confidence. I don’t want to make excuses but I play two varsity sports and hold down a part-time job. To be honest, I really need some advice on what to do now. My family isn’t made of money and I would feel guilty enrolling in an expensive SAT prep class. My private tutor didn’t exactly work out, so I don’t know where to go or what to do to improve my scores. If you could, could you please let me know what I should to? Also, could you tell me where I stand among other kids in the college search. My SATs were a 1750 and currently, my weighted GPA is a 4.75 and my unweighted one is a 3.81. I am looking to go to a Big Ten or ACC school. Is that good enough?

79. Anjana - April 7, 2009

I’m a freshman and I got a 178 on my PSATs without studying. Last year, I took the SAT and got a 1750. What are ways I can improve my scores? How important is the essay score? I’m taking the SAT again this year, and have a 3.8 GPA (unweighted).

80. Josh - April 7, 2009

I just got my scores back and got a 2000(800 math, 800 critical reading, 400 writing). I dont know why i didnt score as well in the writing. Can i still get into an ivy?

81. Katie - April 7, 2009

Hi, my name is Katie and I’m a seventeen year old junior. i took the SAT about a month ago for the first time and my scores came out to be a 1480. Since they switched the scoring to be out of a 2400, I am now completely lost on what the average score to get in to a few colleges would be. What do you think my chances at Oklahoma University, Texas Tech or Kansas State would look like with my score?

82. Jason McDonald - March 16, 2009


For starters, congrats. Not only with your starting scores, but on being motivated to score higher (especially given you’re only a sophmore!). With some work and most importantly, learning the test and strategies, you’ll find your score increasing each time you practice.

You need to buy The Official SAT Study Guide for its 8 full-length practice tests. Your goal should be to take all 8 before your next real test date. After you take one and score it, you’ll know specifically where to need to improve. The important part though, is reviewing your results after each one and learning content and SAT strategies. I’d recommend working with a local tutor. Interview several. I’d start with your lowest score (probably critical reading). Be sure to take my free ecourse to get you started in the math section. Let me know if you have any specific questions from the book!

83. Anne - March 15, 2009

Hi. I’m a sophomore attending an international high school in Lima, Peru. I took the PSAT last semester (probably october 2008, not sure). My scores were as follows: 58 in Critical Reading, 64 in Math & 61 in Writing Skills. It was a disappointment to score the lowest on what I considered to be my strength (Critical Reading). I did not study at all for the test, because I registered the day before, but I know that if I did I could have scored better. I have taken the SAT before (in 7th grade for a gifted students program) and scored pretty well for my age.

I plan on taking the PSAT & the SAT on my junior year. Any advice on how to improve my score?

I really want to get into a very selective university, and my extracurricular s are solid along with my GPA.

84. Jason McDonald - March 9, 2009


I’d normally refer someone seeking such advice to a guidance counselor, but you’re in a different situation. You’ve done everything you can do (taken challenging classes, got good grades (congrats on top 20!), did your best on the SAT, extracurriculars, good essay and letters of rec . . .).

I remember how stressful this waiting game is first hand. But unfortunately that’s what it is. I wish you good luck. And hope you can find some good, healthy distractions while you wait! Watch some good movies. Spend some extra time at the gym or outside. Enjoy yourself. You’ve worked hard and will be rewarded.

85. Shayna - March 9, 2009

Im currently in my senior year of high school and waiting for the admission decisions letters to start coming in.
I applied to Brown and am dying to get in but was worried about my scores and such.
I got an 1800 on my SAT which is lower than the school’s average,
have been very very involved in extracurriculars for the past four years, and i think my essay and letters were pretty good. Ive taken AP courses and advanced classes since i was a freshman and am in the top twenty students of a class of almost 500 but i have a C average in calculus and my past math and science grades have been B’s and C’s.
So my question is: What are my chances of getting into Brown?

86. Amanda - March 1, 2009

Hi! Its Amanda again.Thanks for your help. I am going to take a week off. I hope I will be recharged after my vacation from SATs! I will let you know what happens. I feel better already!!!

87. Jason McDonald - March 1, 2009

I hear you on wasting money and just as important — your time! Given your discouragement I’d say take a week off and decide after that break if you want to study again. If so, I wouldn’t delay as 8 weeks before your test is ideal. If you’re still burned out, don’t bother as it will waste your time and money (and your current scores are not too shabby!). Let me know after your week off if you want some help raising your math score. I have a program that will probably cost less than an hour with your tutor and my students tell me it’s pretty painless ; )

88. Amanda - February 28, 2009

Hi Its Amanda again….I am using the Official SAT study guide. My CR score slipped to 590 and math to 580…. I am just so tired. I don’t know if I should take a SAT break and resart in April after my school break or keep plugging along. I don’t want to wast my parents money. I am taking the test again in May. I never thought it would be this hard. Thank you for your help

89. Jason McDonald - February 27, 2009


My advice is to spend less time taking practice tests and more time reviewing them.

Drops in scores can happen (variance) although it should only be by about 30 points in any section (math, writing, or verbal). Are any sections dipping below that? If so, which ones? I know you started with 650CR, 600M and 620WR. What are your latest scores? You’re using The Official SAT Study Guide, right — not Princeton Review, or Kaplan or something?

90. Amanda - February 27, 2009

Hi! It’s Amanda again! I wrote post #31. I have started studying with a private SAT tutor. He is coming for 2 hrs a week. I do a practice SAT test as homework. My scores are getting worse! Between school, homework and SAT prep I am exhausted! Do you have any tips for me…Thank You!!!

91. Jason McDonald - February 21, 2009

Posters 30-35,

Although I’d be glad to Google average SAT scores for colleges, I think it’s best you seek the guidance of a counselor (I’m an SAT tutor) because SAT scores are only part of the admissions picture and I don’t want to mislead you. See post 13 if you don’t have a good one at your school!

I wish I could address your admissions questions but as a tutor, what I can do is help you improve your math score. If you’re up for that, sign up for my free trial of the member area, watch some videos, and feel free to ask specific questions on how to increase your score!

92. Jason McDonald - February 20, 2009


No matter how great you are in whatever you do, there will always be people that do better than you. I wouldn’t sweat what other people are scoring on the SAT as much as whether you’re scoring to your potential. I bet you can do better than 1400 based on what you’ve told me.

You just need to learn the SAT. The best place to start is to buy “The Official SAT Study Guide” exclusively for its 8 full length practice tests. Take one and score it. You’ll then know specifically where to need to improve. Be sure to take my free ecourse to get you started. Let me know if you have any questions.

The number one factor in improving your SAT score is DESIRE. Given you took the time to write this post, you’re clearly on the right track. Let me know after you buy the book and take a practice test! You’ll be able to see your SAT score increase right away. You’re gonna do fine!

93. Jennifer - February 19, 2009

I am a sophomore at one of the best public high schools in America, and I was very disappointed when I received a 1400 on my PSAT. Everyone at my school thought the PSAT was a joke, and so I didn’t really care about what I received. The day we got back out PSAT scores in homeroom, every kid around me had excellent scores! (There were three students in the 97%+ percentile, and many others scoring in the 80% and 90% percentile. It was ridiculous!) Keep in mind that this was just my homeroom, and there are at least 15 other homerooms.
As far as grades go at my school, I am considered average. Is there anything I can do to score well on the SAT? I’ve always hoped that the reputation of the school will help with college, but once receiving those low scores, I am very scared for my future!

94. shritama - February 17, 2009

I scored a 2100 on the sat. Which college can I get into if my extracurricular record is enviable and how can I apply? I need a full scholarship. I’m from India.

95. B. Ro - February 16, 2009

I took the sat’s and i got my test score back and i got a 430 in critical, 420 in math and 390 in writing…..i thought i did way better but i guess not. the over all is a 1240. i want to go to a great college and i have a 3.2 GPA and i do alot of extra curriculars. Are my chances good for getting into a great college? and i am planning on taking the SAT again.

96. Steven - February 15, 2009

Hi I’m Steven,

I am 17, a senior in highschool, I take college courses at a community college and I’m homeschooled. I’m ready to head off to college and finally leave this cage but my SAT score keeps clipping my wings. The first time around I scored a 1340, which really lowered my self-esteem alot since almost every website said that it was like getting everything wrong. So I took it again last January (I didn’t study at all for it) and this time I got a 1420. At this point I really don’t know what to do. My parents don’t know yet and I don’t really want to disappoint them again! Should I take the test again for the third time? Will colleges recieve my scores? I am not trying to get into any Ivy Leage schools since I am an art major but I still more than anything want to get into a good school and I am afraid with these scores I’ll have to settle for a lesser school.

My GPA is 3.73 and as a homeschooler it is taken lightly because people seem to believe they are “mommy grades”, which BELIEVE ME they aren’t! I know that I am not dumb but I can’t help feel that way when my friends are popping out 1700 or higher their first time. I have other teachers and professors and I usually make A’s and B’s. So why is my score so pathetic!?

I am not that good in math. Not that I don’t understand it but its the fact that I haven’t been taught. I do a lot of independent study. I actually scored higher on the math portion this time which surprised me, scoring from 350 to 420, however, it is my writing and reading scores that are killing me. Last time I scored 530 in the reading which is low but this time I scored 520. Also, I scored a 460 in the writing (7) and this time I only scored a 480 (?). English is my best subject and it hurts that I am not making 700 or higher. What can I do to raise this score. At this point the few colleges I am managing to apply to (because of money) have already recieved my scores which are SCAD, Regent University & St.Johns University. I’m a little afraid to even apply anywhere else; should I with these scores?

I guess what I’m asking is–help.


97. Andy K. - February 13, 2009

Hi, I’m 13 years old and am in 8th grade. I took the SAT on January 24, 2009, and I am wondering about my score. I scored a 1520 overall- 540 on math-540 on critical reading-and a poor 440 on writing. I take advanced LA. According to this information, I am wondering what colleges I will be accepted to if I continue on this track. I am getting into advanced math in highschool. Thanks a lot.

98. Amanda - February 12, 2009

Hi! I am a high school junior who just got my SAT results. My scores were Reading 650 Math600 (my Best Subject!!!) and Writing 620. This was my first time taking the SAT.
My grades from school are good. I have a GPA of 3.8. I take 2AP and 2 honors courses.(I get As and B+s in them)’
My dream is to go to Notre Dame… What can I do to improve my chances??? THANK YOU….Happy Valentines Day

99. Liyana - February 12, 2009


My name is Liyana and I’m a junior in the IB program. I took the Jan. 24 SAT (my first try at the SATs) and got a 1930, without studying at all. I’m going to try again with the May SAT(and actually study a bit) and aim for 2200+ . my over all high school gpa is a 3.6 and IB classes are basically like taking all ap classes. I had only one C, in sophomore year, and I always make honor rolls. my question is, is it possible for me to make it into brown or columbia?

100. Jason McDonald - January 23, 2009

To address careless mistakes be sure to read this post. And don’t be afraid to skip several problems to allow more time and minimize the careless errors. Remember, they’re all worth the same one point so don’t let the “hard” ones zap your time at the expense of missing some easier ones!

Good luck tomorrow, Brandon!!

101. Brandon - January 23, 2009

I took a practice test today and got another perfect reading score, so that eased my mind on that front. My math score was only between 550-660 or so but it was mainly because of careless errors. My writing did increase to about 700 though, so whatever happens tomorrow happens. I’ll just do my best and look forward to a long nap afterwards.

Thank you for easing my mind and for the pre-test tips.

102. Jason McDonald - January 23, 2009


For starters, congrats on your math gain. Don’t worry about the drop in the critical reading section for reason mentioned. Especially b/c your test is tomorrow!

Do yourself a favor and don’t worry about what you can’t change right now. Focus on this plan to minimize your anxiety tomorrow:

-IF you’re going to study at all today, stop by 6PM and put your stuff in bag (pencils, calc, ID, admission ticket, snack).
-Do something fun to get your mind off the test.
-Go to bed on the early side of your norm.
-If you can’t sleep, listen to Enya or something relaxing.
-In the morning, eat something for bf whether you usally do or not.
-Allow extra time to get to your test center in case you get lost or whatever.

Remember, the SAT is nothing more than a test. Your job is to stay cool and do your best. That’s it! Your future is unwritten, regardless of your SAT score.

103. Brandon - January 23, 2009

Hey everyone, I’m Brandon,

I’m 18, and currently attending college. I was at the University of Miami for a little while but unfortunately my family couldn’t pay the bills, and now I’m attending a smaller and far from prestigious community college in Naples, Fl. When I first took the SAT I got a 2020 (800 Reading, 610 Math, and 650 Writing). I then took it again shortly after without doing any major prep in between, and my score was 2010 (680 Reading, 690 Math, 640 Writing). I didn’t focus on anything other than Math at the time because I was over confident in my Reading ability and wasn’t concerned about writing in the least (the colleges I was looking at only focused on the traditional score of 1600). My accumulated score is good (2140 or 1490), and I know that colleges only take the top scores in each section, but I can’t help but think that my sudden drop in Reading is looked at negatively. Is it?

I’m taking the test for the 3rd and final time on Saturday, Jan 24 2009, so of course some pre-test anxiety led me to this website. This time I hope to get a math score of 750 or better, and hopefully I can get a reading score that proves I deserved my first 800. Writing may make or break me because I just found out recently that the colleges I’m looking at now include the writing section as part of their considerations.

I’m going to give this next test date my all, and hopefully I’ll be able to get higher scores in every section, but is it crucial to maintain a good score in the Reading section even though I’ve already gotten the highest score once?

104. Jason McDonald - January 21, 2009

Hi Tina,

I don’t know whether 1650 is a good score *for your daughter*. For what it’s worth, the average SAT score is around 1540.

Regardless of the fact that I don’t know where she’s considering applying to college, I’d recommend taking the test again. The only exception is a quality of life factor. If she absolutely dreads standardized tests, knows where she’s applying and that her score is fine for their application pool, then ok – taking it once is fine. But I’d say over 95% of students should take it at least twice. Preferably logging some study time between tests. If she’s motivated in that direction, have her start prepping for the section she scored least in!

105. tina - January 21, 2009

Hi my daughter took the SAT test and scored a 1650 this was her first time should she try again or is this a good score?

106. Jason McDonald - January 9, 2009


Those are some great accomplishments both in and outside of the classroom. Congrats! Looks like Emory had median 2007 admission SAT scores of around 700 in math and 680 in critical reading and an average GPA of 3.8. Johns Hopkins has similar SAT stats (also lists 680 in the writing portion) and slightly lower high school average GPAs. So based on SAT’s and GPA, I’m sure you’re in the window for both.

As you already know, college admissions a complicated puzzle and honestly, you need a professional to give you more guidance. Start with your guidance counselor at school. If (s)he is no good, hire a professional. Well worth the money. Let me know if you need a referral.

107. Jason McDonald - January 9, 2009


That’s great! Be sure they send you a hard copy of the scores for your records. What will be even more impressive though is how well you’re going to score when you’re a Junior/Senior! So don’t worry too much about these as I’m sure you’ll score even better later! If you’re planning on impressing colleges be sure to focus on some stuff outside of your grades and SAT. Get involved in sports, clubs, volunteering, music, etc. Leadership and character impress colleges far more than SAT scores. Don’t just pick activities to impress schools though. Do what you enjoy!! I don’t talk about that much on my website because I can’t teach that in a few weeks!

108. Jeff - January 8, 2009

I am currently a junior and I have a 3.9 out of 4 gpa in all honors and AP classes and on my first, but probably not last attempt, I scored just under 2100 on SAT. I volunteer at an elementary school and hospital and participate in several academic and non academic clubs. I”m not sure where I fall because I’m not quite top notch IVY material but I feel like I’m probably above the average good student. Do you think schools like Emory John Hopkins etc are reasonable for me?

109. Abbey - January 8, 2009


I am a 7th grader who just turned 13, and I am in the DukeTip program that presents students with the option of taking the SATs or ACTs early to get a feel for it and see how you do. Well, we called the SATs board and I made an 1800. We are going to try to get the scores to stay in my permanent files, but we are not sure how. Is there anything I can do with those scores?

110. Jason McDonald - January 6, 2009


I’m guessing you omitted the decimal and got 154.5. In 2007, the average Junior’s PSAT score was 140.8. The average Sophmore’s score was 126.1. Given you’re a Freshman, those are some solid numbers! If you’re considering trying to bump it up, start with your lowest score of the three sections.

111. Melissa - January 6, 2009

I’m a freshman in high school, I took the PSAT and I got a 1545. Is that okay?

112. Jason McDonald - December 29, 2008

James and Mahmud — wish I could offer input but that’s really not my area of expertise. Get in touch with your guidance counselor soon though! If they’re of no help, hire a professional! The one I’ve referenced above, Gary Canter, is excellent!

Senait — That’s a solid score. Is a 200-300 point gain attainable, you ask? Of course it is. But I must say, the higher your SAT score to start, the more difficult it is to raise. So it would take a lot of work. I don’t think a classroom review course would be a good fit for you as they are more catered to average and below average scorers. Study on your own or hire a local private tutor with lots of experience. Ask them specifically if they’ve ever worked with someone in your score range.

113. Senait - December 28, 2008

hey. i’m a junior in high school and i just took the SATs for the first time in december and got a 1990 (670 in Critical Reading, 650 in Math, 670 in Writing). I’m ok with this score being that it was my first time but i’m really frustrated that i got a 650 in what is usually my best subject, math (and is honestly not as challenging as the language portion of the SATs). i am aiming for an overall score between a 2200 and 2300. do you think that this is a tangible goal? and, if so, are there any specific means of achieving it other than simply studying?

114. James - December 27, 2008

Also, I am barely on top of my class of 80 but my teachers assume at my pace if I keep working and continuing my success with the A’s I can get in the top 20.

115. James - December 27, 2008

I am currently a junior in high school with IVY League dreams. Unlike many other high school students I don’t go to a public or private high school. I go to a Magnet High School where A’s are not that easy to come by. We do not have a football or basketball program, we basically have no sports unless tennis and volleyball count (I am A MALE).
Before I GO onto describe what I have done in HS so far I will put up my SAT Score.

So far out of all the practice tests I have taken my score has been around the 2200 – 2300 range. I take the SAT in March.

NOW, in my years at my magnet school in Georgia (which is considered a top 5 school every year) here is what has happened.

Freshman Year: I was not accustomed to the amount of work thrown at me. I made a couple of F’s on my report card but by the final report I had a B average in all of my classes. Getting an A in most classes at my magnet school was an arduous task.
- did not take AP Classes
- did not participate in any sports

Sophomore Year: I did not make any F’s, I did make a D but other than that I made A’s and B’s with all of my report cards having one C on them.
- did not take AP Classes
- did not participate in any sports or extra circular activities

Junior Year (my current year): The grading period was changed, instead of having 6 weeks we had 9 weeks, this means instead of 6 report cards we have 4 issued. Now, the past report card that came out I had AB Honor roll and the next report card I will probably have All A’s since now I am accustomed to going to a magnet school.
- I am taking AP European
- I am currently in the Ambassadors program to visit our local medical college, I am going to do Academic Decathlon.

Currently my GPA is a 2.9 (would have been a 3.0 but since I took Spanish I did not do good on it).

Now if I take the SAT and make around a 2200 or a 2300 on it, will it give me at least a shot at a college like Dartmouth or Cornell?

I plan on doing some Red Cross services this coming summer vacation. For my senior year I will try to find a sport for myself.
My Ethnicity is Indian (India) or Asian as considered by most and I can speak Hindi and English fluently. I did not live in US all of my life and I learned English when I was 11. I also know French well. I have lived in many countries and I came to the US when I was in the 6th grade.

SO, my question is, do I have a shot at going to a college like Dartmouth or Cornell? (I know Harvard is out of reach)

116. Jason McDonald - December 25, 2008

You actually CAN take the test one more time even though you’re a senior. If you improved that much with minimal prep . . . might be worth another shot if you can study a little more. Read below so you know I’m not crazy! Feel free to call or email Gary (gcanter1 [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com) — he knows his stuff and is a great guy!

And let me know if you have any more questions! Merry Christmas! Better go pull the presents out for my three year old!


Finally, there IS one last (forevermore!) SAT administration, on January 24th, when you can give it one more (forgive me the pun) “old college try”! Contrary to popular wisdom taking the test in January is NOT too late to impact a college’s decision. If you need convincing on that, give me a call.

Gary L. Canter
College Placement Services
210 St. John Street
Portland, Maine 04102
(207) 772-9711

117. Katherine O. - December 24, 2008

Oh wow I was replied back? YAY! haha I actually didn’t study much for the second SATs. I think I was just ready to take it, you know? I wasn’t nervous or stressed, and I think that helped.

“It’s just shy of the national average (about 1500).”

Now that’s depressing…I have a hard time being under the average line, oh well. I would really like to take the test again but I’m a senior now so that wouldn’t help considering I have to mail my college applications by next month.

I’m looking for somewhere close to home in Western Mass. My top Choices are UMASS, Westfield, Smith, and Elms. They all have really good psychology programs (which is what I’m hoping to major in), so I was worried my scores wouldn’t be sufficient.

And yeah, it was math…I went from a 400 to a 470, so that’s pretty ok. I wish I’d had know about this earlier I really would have appreciated it.

Anyway thank you so much for answering my questions I really appreciate that too, Have a very Merry Christmas,and a wonderful New Years.

118. Anonymous - December 24, 2008

I am an international student applying to schools in the US (from Liberia, West Aftica). I’m looking at Morehouse, Xavier, Rutgers, Colby-Sawyer, Drexel, Bates, and Butler. My overall SAT score for the December SAT is 1660 (CR- 510; Math- 520; Writing- 630). What’s my standing?

119. Jason McDonald - December 23, 2008

And a Merry Christmas to you! That’s great you got a 200-point increase — doesn’t happen all the time. Did you study between those two tests?

“So I would like to know would that be a good or bad score?”

It’s just shy of the national average (about 1500). Bad? No. Could you do better? Of course. Do you need to? Depends what schools you’re looking at as well as if you’re a junior or senior.

If you’re thinking of taking the SAT again, I’d focus on the section you scored lowest in. Let me know if that’s math and I’ll help you out.

120. Katherine O. - December 23, 2008

Well…Hi first of all and Merry Christmas…I took the SAT’s twice and my first time I got a 1220 which really made me feel dissapointed in myself considering I was taking mostly Honor Classes. The Second time I took it again this Dec. and I got 1420. I raised it but, well the accumulated score is only 1430…So I would like to know would that be a good or bad score?

121. Jason McDonald - December 17, 2008

Thanks for writing, Alison. Happy to give my two cents . . .

I’d think of it as “manipulating the system” if you are actually lying and cheating (If that’s the case, don’t. It’s not worth it in the end). If that’s not the case, it sounds like you work well with the system. Nothing wrong with that! I wouldn’t say you shouldn’t be in a class just because you have to work harder than others to get the same grade. If you’re challenged and have the motivation to learn (not just learn the material but learn to do what it takes to get the grade you want) then I’d say you’re in the perfect class!

“Well, as far as I see it, the ability to be smart in “my way” is a better life skill. Oh wait, colleges don’t look at that.”

Remember, college admissions counselors are human. All they’re really trying to do at the end of the day is admit students that will make their school look good via their graduates (wonder how Harvard feels about George W). Sure, they’ll snatch up a lot of great GPA and SAT types, but they’re also looking for people with great personalities and interests. That’s exactly where the letters of rec and the essay come into play in the admissions process!

Be sure to apply to schools where your grades and GPA are decent (obviously subjective). Given your overall GPA and SAT scores, you’ve got plenty of options.

Sure you’re not an all-star athlete or the humanitarian of the year, but what you need to focus on is a story or two along the lines of how you’ve grown or what you’ve learned from what you DO, not what you don’t. Enter photography and writing . . .

“I really haven’t planned out my future like what seems to be every other kid my age. No plans for jobs, plans for college. I’m completely satisfied with any college, and I really have no ambition for any job in particular. I love photography, and as long as I can have my camera around I will be a happy person…”

That’s great. I could care less (as should you) about what all the other kids are doing. You’re the one that matters. You could have all the plans in the world, but everyone’s heard the crazy stats on how many people switch their majors and careers in life. This of course doesn’t mean you should have no ambitions, but if your goal is to be happy and to succeed at what you’re doing, you’re going to do great.

“Do I have “enough”? SHOULD I worry about my gpa, my test scores?”

Worry? No. Do your best in your current classes. If your best isn’t good enough, reassess next semester if you’re in over your head and adjust your courses. I think it’s absurd how many students take AP courses these days for the wrong reasons. The question of whether you should try to increase your SAT scores . . . it depends.

You will only succeed if you’re willing to invest the time and effort. Every golden nugget for improving your SAT score could be placed in front of you. You will only improve your score however if you have the dedication to apply and master the techniques. The SAT is not school! So ultimately, it’s not up to your parents if you should improve your SAT score or not. It’s up to you.

Don’t waste their money or your time if you don’t have the desire. I once worked with a student who cheated on the diagnostic SAT I gave him. Not sure if he was trying to fool his parents, me or himself! In any case, this is a perfect example of what can happen if someone does something for the wrong reasons.

If you want to increase your SAT score, go for it. My one-week trial in the interactive member area is a great place to start. If you don’t have the desire to up your score, but you’re interested in college, start exploring your options. Make an appointment to meet with your guidance counselor in the next couple weeks to discuss options after graduation. If he or she isn’t super helpful (or they blow you off), talk with a professional (Gary Canter in the comments above is a great one).

Whatever you decide, I hope you realize you have unlimited potential and options.

Best of luck to you and keep me posted!

122. Alison - December 14, 2008

I just took a PSAT and got a 1650, and before that I got around a 1450. Suffiffice to say that I don’t score well on tests. And while people always say “your a smart kid”, I really don’t feel that way. On a personal level, I think of myself not as a smart kid who can get good grades, but a smart kid who can manipulate the system, lie, cheat, and do anything he can to work around conventional paths to get to his goal- passing classes he shouldn’t be in. (Ok, not much cheating or lying is involved, but I can manage to pass AP cources in which I am clearly the “stupid” kid.) Well, as far as I see it, the ability to be smart in “my way” is a better life skill. Oh wait, colleges don’t look at that. Why would being able to read faces, interpert body language, and picking up visual queues easily be something colleges care for?…

My GPA is kinda lacking- from 10th grade I have a 3.3, and this year looks to be a repeat of that. If you add in everything else, I have around a b average. In middle school I had a brighter future- a 3.8 average. I think I stopped learning after middle school…I’m not sure why. Although I got a 3.7 in 9th grade, colleges don’t really look at that. Well, maybe my GPA dropped because the course load got too hard.

I’m not big on sports either. I mean, I’ve done them thoughout my high school “career” and in schools past but haven’t done them to any extreme level, if you know what I mean. No 10 sports a year thing, and none of those 1st places, school records, or state champs. Although, I did win 2 1st place medals in middle school for track before I got hurt (would a college care about that?) and set some school records.

And I haven’t done much or any community service or other after school things. You know, those things that people say “Hey, it looks good on your transcript” instead of “because I care”. (Sorry, I have a bit of cynical look on people who do community service and other such acts of “kindess” mostly for colleges to drool about.)

At the most, I do a bit of photography on the side as a hobby. Just a hobby. No formal awards, no newspaper articles, no buyers of my pieces. I’m not bad, but I am certainly not one of the greatest people, even for my age (if you take a step into a world like “flickr” I compare decently with the best of teenage photographers at times.)

And, well, I suppose there is no harm in telling you this- but I really haven’t planned out my future like what seems to be every other kid my age. No plans for jobs, plans for college. I’m completely satisfied with any college, and I really have no ambition for any job in particular. I love photography, and as long as I can have my camera around I will be a happy person…may that be a job at McDonalds or a job as a CEO of a major company, I will be happy if I can continue my photograpghy hobby. (Yes, I’ve thought of doing photograhpy in college to complete that little circle we call “common sense.”)

So, to sum up this little autobiography i’ve started already and getting to the main point…well, my parents REALLY want me to improve my SAT scores, do well on the ACT too, get higher grades…etc. Standard issue response, I suppose (from your perspective.)

Do I have “enough”? SHOULD I worry about my gpa, my test scores? Should it matter if I pursue a career in more of an artistic thing such as photography? I don’t know…this is kind of an open ended question in a sense. With my given background, do you have any advice on the general topic of everything? (That’s short of a ‘what is the meaning of life’ question, but the advice would be great.)

Oh, and I like to write. Some have even said I’m good at it (although I usually disagree with them.) Does it show that I like to write? And I’ve completed that “photography+writing” shape too…although outside of the shape, I have no idea what it actually looks like (if you know what I mean.)

123. Gary Canter - December 6, 2008

Did she try the ACT? Was the 1540 her top score of several tests? I’d like to know more.

She still should be a strong candidate given her GPA and her course load – I think she’ll have a good shot at each of those schools.

If you want to discuss this further email me or contact me through Jason.

Gary the College Guy in Maine
gcanter1 [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com

124. deanna - December 4, 2008

my daughter has a 3.9 gpa all 4 years she takes all AP classes and scored 1540 on the SAT her world is crushed and I am not sure if thats a good score or bad she is looking at Spellman, Texas Tech, Univ. Miami, Univ Ok and Univ Evansville. what should I do we are in Desoto TX

125. Jason McDonald - October 26, 2008

Probably best not to list Gary’s contact info here for spambots, but I emailed you his email address and phone number.

126. Gary Canter - October 26, 2008

Well, I guess that’s my cue to chime in. First of all, kudus to your son – he’s definitely an impressive young fella in terms of the “numbers game”. If he’s “got game” in other respects he’ll be welcome at any number of colleges.

If he graduated last spring, what’s he doing now?

Best way for me to plug in would be for you and your son to contact me directly – if it’s kosher Jason will list my email and/or phone number. There are many other factors consider before suggesting “good fit” schools, such as what your son’s interests are, what his extra-curricular profile looks like, what his grades and courses were during high school, and what he’s up to now that he’s graduated.

But since you asked, let me just throw out some of my favorite New York City and vicinity schools which may be generous with financial aid (merit and need based) for a student with 2100 SATs: Wagner College, Fordham, Cooper Union (if he’s artistically or architecturally inclined), C.W. Post, Pace, Manhattan, Manhattanville, Manhattan Marymount.

In Jersey check out Drew University, Farleigh Dickinson and William Patterson.

Good luck to you!

Gary Canter

127. Jason McDonald - October 26, 2008

My specialty is helping students raise their SAT scores and your son clearly doesn’t need help in that department! I’ll have my guidance counselor colleague weigh in . . .

128. Jim - October 24, 2008

My son scored a 2100 SAT score…710 math…700 essay…690 critical writing…this was his first attempt…he made the honor roll at White Plains High School in NY for several years…He was tested in high scool and had a 137 IQ. Any schools in or around Bronx NY that would give him a full all expense paid scholorship? I am his father and live in SC…I am divorced and he finished HS school June 08…his mother is the custodial parent in White Plains …any help will be appreciated. I am a vetern and served 22 years in the USAF and now at 66 years old I am retired.