Dealing with a Low SAT Score: What’s Next?

Why Is My SAT Score Lower Than I Expected

With college applications just around the corner, getting a good score on the SAT is most important now more than ever.  Getting a high score on the SAT not only will make you a competitive applicant when applying to top-ranked universities such as the Ivy League but also allows you to qualify for scholarships. 

But what is the SAT? 

The College Board administers the SAT, which is a standardized test that is broadly recognized for admissions in the United States. It is a three-hour-long multiple-choice test with two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The total score for the SAT is 1600. 

In order to ease your way into the Ivy League, it is highly recommended to ensure that your SAT score is above 1450. Unfortunately, the average score is only 1060. Most high school students take the SAT during the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year.

However, It’s important to retake the test if you are required to increase your score before you apply to college. So, if you have already taken the SAT twice, and you notice that while the number of answers you scored correctly have gone up, but your score has come down, here’s why:

The difference in the difficulty of the tests: While most tests are created to be at the same level of difficulty, there is a slight possibility that some will be more difficult. So, if you scored a 550 for answering 50 out of 58 questions correctly in the math section but only 510 for answering 51 out of 58 questions, it is likely that the first test was more difficult than the second one.

Hence, the difference in the scores. Regardless of the difficulty, CollegeBoard keeps it fair by rewarding points based on overall difficulty. 

The scoring process: The SAT is not scored on a grading curve. This means that your score is not dependent on the overall performance of all test takers in that session. It is solely based on how you perform on the test and this is calculated by using the method known as equating.

This ensures that a section score from a test is equivalent to that same section score from another SAT test. If you’re looking to increase your SAT score, or even minimize your financial burden, keep reading to discover ​​how you can improve your score.

Improve your vocabulary

In order to tackle the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, you must ensure that you build your vocabulary each day as much as possible.

Usually, students use flashcards to learn the meaning of 5 or 10 new words each day and apply them in a real-life setting. This will save time when it comes to comprehension as you will understand the text much better.

Make sure that you start to improve your vocabulary way in advance of your test in order to retain that memory and understand the different vocabulary better.

Improve your reading and writing, When it comes to the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, it can be a little difficult to finish it within the time constraint. Hence, reading and writing are extremely crucial to doing well in this section.

Furthermore, familiarizing yourself with the texts and vocabulary will help you comprehend the different sections much better.  When it comes to the history text, it is highly recommended to do some background reading on American history so that not only will the content be familiar to you, but also the style of writing. 

Also Read: 7 Tips to get a 7 in IB Maths AA HL

Utilize SAT study materials

There are countless SAT prep books and various other resources online. These books guide you by providing tips, practice questions, reading examples and so much more. Take advantage of these SAT study materials to improve your knowledge and understanding of the test. 

Avoid careless mistakes

Careless errors are by far the most frustrating thing on the planet. It would really hurt to find out that you lost a few points to reach a higher score because of careless errors.

So, I would strongly advise you to recheck your answers, especially in the math section. Allocate the last 5 minutes to ensure that there are no sign or number changes or any other careless error that you may have possibly made. Now, you can rest in peace (not literally).

Practice, practice, practice!

The best and most efficient way to increase your SAT score is by taking up practice tests. Once you have familiarized yourself with the content in both math and English, it is time for you to take your pencil and start shading in some answers.

When you do this, you start to understand the type of questions that could come your way and the way the SAT is structured. It also allows you to identify your weaknesses so that you could focus on them more and turn them into strengths.

Furthermore, practicing the SAT allows you to become more time-efficient and tells you which areas you need to spend more time focusing on.

Especially, when it comes to the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, it can be a little difficult to finish it within the time constraint. Hence, practicing allows you to be better, even if it is only by a minute each time you take it.

Avoid stressing too much

While the academic pressure can really get to you sometimes, always make sure to never cram too much too fast. Take breaks, go for a walk, watch your favorite tv show or anything that helps you relax.

Your mental and physical health should always be a priority, no matter what. So, get 8 hours of sleep, eat well, and calm yourself, especially during test day.

Another way to make sure you don’t stress too much is to prepare well in advance so that you wouldn’t have to panic at the last minute.  

Create a schedule… and stick to it

There are tons of topics to learn for the SAT and a lot of practice required to ace it.  Creating a schedule can help you be more organized and ensure that you have covered everything necessary and beyond. With school and extracurriculars, it is absolutely essential to fix a routine and stick to it. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Why is my SAT score lower than my practice test scores?

A: There could be several reasons for this discrepancy. Nerves or test anxiety on test day can affect performance, as well as fatigue or not being in the best physical or mental condition.

Q2: Can a bad testing environment affect my SAT score?

A: Yes, a distracting or uncomfortable testing environment can negatively impact your SAT score. Loud noises, uncomfortable seating, or other distractions can make it difficult to concentrate and perform your best.

Q3: Is it possible that I didn’t study enough for the SAT?

A: Yes, it’s possible that insufficient preparation or lack of familiarity with the format and types of questions on the SAT contributed to a lower-than-expected score. It’s important to devote enough time and effort to studying for the SAT to feel confident and prepared on test day.

Q4: Can technical issues during the SAT affect my score?

A: While rare, technical issues such as computer malfunctions or connectivity problems can impact your SAT score. If you experience any technical difficulties during the test, be sure to report them to the test proctor or SAT administration as soon as possible.

Q5: Should I retake the SAT if I got a lower score than expected?

A: It depends on your goals and the colleges or universities you’re applying to. If your score is significantly lower than your target score or the average score of admitted students at your preferred schools, retaking the SAT may be a good idea. However, if your score is within a reasonable range for your goals and schools, retaking the SAT may not be necessary.

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