Set a Target Score
Concrete goals are better than vague hopes. Here’s
a vague hope: “I want to do really well on the SAT.” Okay. Go study
everything. In contrast, here’s a concrete goal: “I want to raise
my score on the SAT Math section by 40 points.” If you want to raise
your score on the SAT Math section by 40 points, you have to take
the following three steps:
- Study the particular math concepts that
give you trouble.
- Leave fewer questions blank.
- Pick up your pace.
Concrete goals allow you to come up with a specific plan.
This will make the time you spend preparing for the SAT much more
efficient, leaving you more time to enjoy your life.
When setting a target score, be honest and realistic.
Base your target score on the range the schools you want to go to
will expect. A good target score should be 50 to 100 points above
the average for those schools. You can also gauge your target score by
your first practice test. If you score a 500 on the Math section
of the first practice test, don’t set your target score at 750.
You’ll just get frustrated and you won’t know where to focus your
preparation time. Instead, your target should be about 50 points higher
on each section than your score on your first practice test. That
may not seem like much, but 50 points on each section of the test
will raise your total score by 150 points!
The target score you choose plays a major role in your
test-taking strategy. We explain how target scores affect strategy
in “SAT Strategies” (on page ).
If You Reach Your Target Score . . .
Give yourself a cookie or, if you’re a health
freak, a carrot. But just because you’ve hit your target score doesn’t
mean you should stop working. In fact, you should view reaching
your target score as proof that you can do better than that score:
Set a new target 50 to 100 points above your original, pick up your
pace a little bit, and skip fewer questions.
Slow and steady wins the race and beats the test. By working
to improve bit by bit, you’ll integrate your knowledge of how to
take the test and the subjects the test covers without burning out.
If you can handle working just a little faster without becoming
careless and losing points, your score will certainly go up. If
you meet your new target score again, rinse and repeat.