Finding time to complete your schoolwork on top of studying for the SAT and ACT is difficult. Having a goal in mind over the course of your test-prep journey will help you stay focused and motivated. Since this score is meant to be a source of motivation it should be realistic and attainable. It should not be chosen arbitrarily. Here are some questions to consider when making this decision.
How did you do on practice tests?
Practice tests, the PLAN or the PSAT are great resources to use when trying to choose a target score. According to a 2007 study by the CollegeBoard, on average students who take the PSAT end up improving their performance on the actual SAT. To this end, your practice test results can help ensure that you are keeping your target score realistic and achievable. As you study you should be taking practice tests at regular intervals. These practice test scores will help you track your progress against your target score.
What colleges are you planning to apply to?
When deciding on a target score it is important to keep your college list in mind. All the schools you are considering will share information about the SAT and ACT score ranges for their accepted students. The official admissions website for a given school is a good place to start researching this information. Use it to help you narrow your target score range.
Some colleges and universities will not consider applications below a certain minimum score threshold. For other schools students are guaranteed acceptance if they have the required test scores and GPA.
Are you being realistic?
We all want perfect scores, however the most important piece of advice is to remain realistic when setting score goals. And don’t let your score goal bring you down. Remind yourself that there is more to your college application than just your SAT/ACT score. You should also consider the kind of test taker that you are when making this decision. That said, I encourage you to attempt to get the highest score you can.
How are the other parts of your college application?
We have all heard the stories of students who have gotten perfect SAT or ACT scores but were still denied entry into certain schools. Your college application will consist of recommendations, personal statements, lists of your extra-curricular activities, your course load, leadership positions etc.