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You Received Your SAT Scores… Now What?

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, April 17, 2014

You've taken your high school classes, sat through SAT prep and other SAT help, and finally gone through SAT testing. Now you have your scores; what's next?

Unlike school, you can’t “pass” or “fail” the SAT. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! The reason you take the test is to pretty up your college applications, so a passing score is one that’ll get you in.

Getting the score on SAT scores

Most colleges publish their median SAT scores, so it just takes a little research to figure out what you’re shooting for. For a snapshot of your performance, check out your percentile scores. They show how you stacked up against the competition. If you're in the 82nd percentile for the Math test, then you outscored 82 percent of other students.

Raw scores help you get particular -- and discover where you can make improvements. To calculate raw scores, the College Board uses a simple formula: they add a point for correct answers and subtract a quarter-point for wrong ones. That little formula can have a big impact on your cumulative score.

Not happy with your SAT scores?

If you’re not totally content with the scores you’ve received, don’t panic. There are some easy ways to improve the next time around. Remember the formula we were just talking about? You can actually use the way the SAT is scored to your advantage:

Strategy #1
Get more questions right. Just one or two more correct answers can increase a section’s score by 50 points or more.

Strategy #2
Skip questions you’re likely to get wrong. If you can eliminate incorrect answers, go ahead and guess. But if you can’t, then don’t! Those quarter point penalties can really add up.

Also, if you haven't taken any SAT test prep, consider it. SAT prep is probably the quickest, most efficient way to raise your score. You can find some quick SAT prep here at Peterson's with our free SAT practice test.

SAT scores: Then there’s the essay

While some students are still overwhelmed by the Writing test, keep it in perspective. The essay only accounts for a third of your Writing score -- or a ninth of your total score.

When you get your SAT scores back, you’ll see an essay score ranging from 0-12. The cool part? You can now go online (check your score report for the Web address) to view and print a copy of your essay response. One you have it, you can take it to your parents or English teacher for pointers. But first, look at it yourself!

Did you write neatly enough for the average human to understand it? Are your grammar and spelling in check? Did you conclude with a conclusion? Though your score is based on overall content, all of these things can have an impact.

Moving forward with more SAT testing

The SAT is a big part of the college application process, but remember that it’s only a test. You can easily prep some more, use the score-raising strategies above, and work toward the score you need. For more study tips and SAT help, check out our SAT test prep center. Good luck!

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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