How to Get a Good SAT Score in 2023
While the pandemic has disrupted many elements of education in general and the college admissions process in specific, there is at least one thing that hasn’t changed. What is a great SAT score for 2023? The one that gets you into your top choice college. The truth is that there isn’t a single, perfect SAT score that will guarantee you admission into any and every college. Each college sets threshold scores for consideration based on many other factors, especially your grade point average. A great SAT score for you depends on several factors, primarily to which colleges you plan to apply.
Here are six steps to achieve a great SAT score for yourself.
1. Set a reasonable SAT score goal:
Once you build your initial college list, divide the list into safety, target, and reach colleges, and select your top choice schools from your target list, identify the median/average SAT score for each of your top choice schools. You can find this information in several different places on the internet. Not only do most colleges share this information on their own websites, but the College Board collects this information on their Big Future website. The median/average SAT score for your top choice college should be you ultimate score goal. At Livius, our average SAT score improvement is around 230 points, after tutoring. If your goal is unreasonably high or difficult to achieve, perhaps you need to adjust your list to better reflect your academic performance.
2. Map out a test date calendar:
Most students who are applying to competitive colleges will take the SAT at least twice, and students applying to highly competitive colleges usually take the SAT three or four times. Plan when you are going to take the SAT as far in advance as possible. At Livius, we often advise students to take the SAT earlier than the average student, who usually takes the SAT for the first time in March of junior year. Ambitious students, like you, should plan to take the SAT in the autumn of junior year, or possibly even in August before junior year begins. Then, map out when you want to take the SAT a second or third time. We generally recommend that juniors avoid the May or June test dates due to the large number of activities, like prom and spring performances, and other test dates, like AP exams and finals, in that time period.
3. Prepare with an expert:
As you build your test calendar, make sure you allot time for preparing to take the SAT. Most people are unaware that the SAT is not like the tests you take in school, which are designed to assess what you have learned in your classes. The SAT is a test of you critical thinking and analytical reading skills. It is definitely not a test of what you know. Therefore, proper preparation is the key to success on a test like the SAT. Most tutoring companies and independent tutors focus far too much on reteaching academic content skills to their students. That is a waste of time. Since the skills you need to improve on the SAT are more about understanding how the test works and how the questions are structured, a more strategic approach is needed. Only a prep program like ours at Livius will actually make a difference in your SAT results.
4. Think long-term:
Like any skill set, test-taking and critical thinking skills are not something that you will become an expert in overnight. It takes time to build skill. Think about playing your favorite sport or learning a musical instrument. It takes years of hard work to become an expert in those skills. The same is true for test-taking skills. Luckily, these skills are not only useful on the SAT, but are applicable to a wide variety of circumstances in college and working life. Keep practicing. Remember, practice makes permanent.
5. Read more:
The brain is not a muscle, but it sometimes acts like one. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. This is especially true when it comes to reading. Not everyone enjoys reading, and I am not here to convince you to enjoy it. The SAT is full of reading assignments, though, so you need to be comfortable reading quite a bit. The best way to build up your reading endurance is to do it more. This doesn’t mean you must pick up “the classics,” whatever that means to you. Is it good to read Jane Austen or Nathaniel Hawthorne? Yes, they are great. But in truth, any reading you do is good for you. If you prefer, read articles about sports, read trashy romance novels, read technical manuals on computer programming, so long as you read more. Find something that interests you and read for at least an hour every day. One last thing: it doesn’t matter if you read on paper or on a computer screen. Reading is reading. Don’t let technophobes bully you.
6. Mastery-based targeted academic content review:
Not only do most tutoring companies and independent tutors waste their students’ time by focusing only on academic content skills, they tend to review every possible topic that can appear on the SAT. This is a colossal waste of your time. At Livius, we focus our students’ attention on critical thinking skills, but we do review relevant academic content as needed. We do this by identifying exactly which academic topics are danger zones for our students through a diagnostic practice test before any tutoring begins. Then, using the data from our extremely detailed score report, we pick out the high-priority academic topics and our tutors review those concepts with their students. Further, our team doesn’t just brush past topics to check them off a list. Our tutors stick with a topic until the students master that concept. This is essential for students to improve their results consistently on the actual SAT.
Your great SAT score in 2023 is achievable, if you put in the time and effort to reach your goals.