Set a Target Score
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.
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