No matter the grade level in high school, if your child is planning on taking the SAT, one of the first places to start is collegeboard.org. CollegeBoard is the company that administers the SAT, and in order to register for the exam, a visit to their website is necessary. CollegeBoard offers a few free sample SAT questions, along with myriad helpful links to start the college admissions testing process. Bookmark this website. You’ll be coming back to it plenty throughout the course of your child’s high school career.
What score does my student need?
Now that you’re a bit more familiar with SAT, the next question becomes, ‘What kind of scores does my child need?’ Although you may have heard of ‘good’ scores and ‘bad’ scores, the score your student needs depends entirely on where he or she wants to go to college. Don’t have an idea yet? If your child is a junior, now is the time to start researching. College admissions testing and the college search go hand in hand, and it is difficult to set a goal score without a goal school in mind. While it’s great for students at any age to consider where they might want to attend college, junior year is a critical time to scope out potential schools that could be the best fit for your child. There are many different types of schools – Ivy League, state schools, private schools, small liberal arts colleges – so it is important to remember to not discount a school just because of its average SAT score range. Take a critical look at all of these schools with your student, and consider them holistically, just as they will be considering your child.
When looking at average score ranges for schools, there is a plethora of information to be found on the Internet, but the best source of information is from the school itself. As a reminder, the SAT is still scored out of 2400 points* (800 points per section) and the national average is a 1500. For Ivy League schools like Cornell, Brown, and Harvard, students can expect that the middle 50% of scores to be between 640-800 in Critical Reading, 650-800 in Math, and 670-800 in Writing, which sums to an overall range of 1960-2400.
For top private universities, the score ranges are not far from the Ivy League. The middle 50% of students score 630-790 in Critical Reading, 650-780 in Math, and 640-780 in Writing, for an overall middle 50% of 1920-2350. The schools that will be looking for these scores are universities such as Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, and Stanford, among others.
Top public universities boast very competitive scores as well. These universities include College of William and Mary, UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Michigan, among others. The middle 50% of Critical Reading scores for these schools is 540-730, 610-780 in Math, and 560-750 in Writing, with an overall composite range of 1710-2260.
Many top universities require or recommend that students take a few SAT Subject Tests. These tests are each one hour in length, are scored out of 800 points, and allow students to show their strength in specific subjects. In order to see if a school that your student is interested in requires SAT Subject Tests, visit the college’s website for its recommendation. Some schools have a preference on which Subject Tests to take; others have no preference. Because these tests are optional, students should only take an SAT Subject Test in an area in which they have demonstrated strength. For more information on the Subject Tests, and to determine which Subject Tests might be best for your child, visit the CollegeBoard.
For many students, taking the SAT is their first active step in the college application process, even if they aren’t sure where they want to go to school or what they want to study. We’ve given you a brief overview of what you and your student can expect regarding the SAT, but for more in-depth information on both the SAT and ACT exams, as well as the best preparation options, Revolution Prep is hosting a free online parent webinar. To see the dates and times, go to our webinars page. “Demystifying College Admissions Tests” will cover all the standardized exams, how they are different from typical high school tests, and a full timeline of when and how to prepare for them. Remember, while the SAT is just one factor of the overall college admissions process, it is a highly-weighted factor, and can greatly affect how colleges view an applicant.