SAT Scores: Setting Goals – What SAT Score do I want (or need)?

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." - Mario Andretti

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

Setting goals can be a good exercise to help you with your preparation for taking the SAT standardized examination.  Knowing what score is needed and what a realistic goal is, provides incentive, motivation, and the drive to do your best.

  1. Where are you going?

Schools have different admission SAT requirements.  Many times programs within the institution also have their own test score requirements.  Although you have attributes besides testing scores, if the school has SAT test score standards, you must know what the school requirements are in order to properly set your testing goals.

There are several ways to do this.  You could the visit the Admissions Office of the institution or you could start your research by going to the college’s website and reviewing the information on the Admissions page. Use either or both of these sources to find out what each of the schools that you are applying to require for their admission testing scores and note the highest and lowest acceptable scores.

  1. How do others do?

Another part of this process is gaining an understanding of how other students do on the test. You could go into the testing with the goal of “acing” the test, but is that realistic?  Data on how other students do nationally, locally and at your institution(s) of choice, is a better way to understand what is realistic and to be fair to yourself as a part of setting your test score goals. Research this, too.

  1. Advantages and Benefits

High SAT scores have other advantages besides admission into your school of choice.  Your institution and program may offer extended benefits for attaining certain scores on the SAT test.  You could be eligible for scholarships or grants, granted advanced placement allowing you to progress faster through your program of study or given the opportunity to participate in honors programs, and more.

Are you interested in any of these advantages or benefits?  If so, you need to know what score is required in order to be eligible.  Again, you can find this information either from the Admissions Office of the institution of your choice or by consulting the institution’s website.

Note: Don’t limit yourself to college institutions in your research.  There are scholarships and grants available that are not college-specific that you may be eligible for with the right test results.  Know what kind of scores these programs are looking for and use that information in your goal-setting process.

  1. Your Personal Best

Taking into consideration all of the above, ask yourself these questions:

How did you do in school?

If you were a good student, attained good grades without too much stress, bring that confidence into setting your goals for the standardized testing environment.  If you struggled in school, consider what the hurdles were that kept you from doing your best and what it would take to overcome them as you continue through this process.

Are you a high achiever?

Are you one of those people who push themselves to the limit?  If you are a high achiever, you will set your goals high and do everything you can to achieve them.  If you have not been a high achiever, you may want to consider how this could affect you in achieving your goals.  Use any or all of the considerations above to create the motivation for yourself that you need to become a high achiever for this situation.

What are you willing to do in order to meet a goal?

And finally, after you’ve done your research, know the requirements, understand the data, know what you want, and have a good feel for what you feel is the score you want to achieve, what do you need to achieve your goal?  Do you need to brush up on some or all of the testing subjects?  Do you need to practice your test-taking skills?  Do you need more confidence going into this important testing environment?  Are you willing to put in the time and effort in finding and using resources needed to provide the best possible outcome?  Your level of determination is a critical factor in achieving your goals.

With all of these things in consideration, you should have a better and more realistic idea of what score you want to achieve on the SAT or SAT standardized test. This is your goal.  Now, do what you need to do to make your goal come true and good luck!


Anne N. is a SAT Tutor with Parliament Tutors, a New York Tutoring company.