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09/08/2019

Are these reasonable first time SAT scores?

QUESTION
Are these reasonable first time SAT scores?
Critical Reading 570 72%
Math 600 75%
Writing 560 72%
Multiple Choice 61 (score range: 20-80)
Essay 6
Basically, to be honest, I didn’t really study a lot for the test (6 days), felt crappy on test day and I’m going to retake it again. For the essay, I didn’t finish, I only managed to get the intro paragraph and almost all of the first body paragraph. How can I improve my scores for next time? Some schools that I am interested in attending are Stanford, UC Berkely, UC Davis, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and possibly a CSU.

ANSWER
Ok so basically, for the first four schools listed you have to do better on the SAT. Those scores for your first time aren’t bad, but they can definitely be improved. A 1730 won’t get you into Stanford or a UC school if the rest of your resume isn’t flawless. Shoot for above 2000 for those schools. You might want to consider taking a prep class, and if you don’t want to do that, I recommend the SAT study book by Princeton Review. The book basically has 10 practice SATs and you can take them and see for yourself where you need to improve before your next test.

On the bright side, most colleges will super score (take your best score from each category and combine them to make your final SAT score), so if the next time you do a lot better in critical reading but worse in math, don’t worry because they’ll take your best score. You should definitely study a lot though, people say you can’t study for the SAT but they’re wrong, the least you can do is get your brain in the mood for taking the test, basically.

A piece of advice I would give while you’re taking the test is FOCUS. It is so easy to lose your concentration during a 4 hour test, especially during the long, boring critical reading passages. Maintain your focus for the entire 4 hours and you should do great. On the math, there is always a trap answer, so try to make sure you’re not falling into those (try to do every problem twice if you have time). And for the writing section (70% of it is your multiple choice, 30% is your essay), on your multiple choice you didn’t do that badly, but the essay is where you are lacking. For example, one time when I took the SAT I actually got that same multiple choice score (61) but I got a 10 on the essay and I got a 640 in writing. For the essay, the things I would recommend to write about are examples from history, literature, and science. Stay away from personal experiences, those don’t earn you very many brownie points with the SAT essay graders. Think: what would a scholarly essay grader want to read about? An SAT prep class I once took said that two examples: Stephen Hawking (Science) and Japanese Internment during WWII (History) can fit into any SAT essay prompt. When I used both of those examples in my essay I got a 10, so I think that is more or less correct. Try to think of at least two examples from those three categories and plan your essay within the first 5 minutes tops. But, to be honest, don’t be discouraged as a writer if you get a bad score on the essay, it really doesn’t test your writing ability (the writing process is normally a long, arduous process with hours of writing and revising), it tests how well you can come up with an idea and quickly write something good about it that’s better than what most people can do. Personally I think the essay is stupid but oh well.

Also, most people do a LOT better their second time around because you’ve seen the test before and you know what to expect.

But yeah, in summary, study more, focus, and think about what I wrote about the essay. For those elite schools listed you’ll need a better score, but for most schools (CSUs included) that’s not bad at all and you’re probably fine. You should do much better next time! Good luck!