Your Target Score and Pacing Strategy
Your Target Score and Pacing Strategy
Your target score greatly impacts your overall strategy on the SAT. A student looking to score a 700 or higher on a section of the SAT needs to work very differently from someone who’s hoping for a 500. The student targeting a 700 has to answer almost every question on the test—he or she must work quickly and make very few careless mistakes. But students shooting for a 500 don’t have to answer every question on the test. In fact, those students shouldn’t even try to answer every question. Because students looking for a 500 can afford to leave a bunch of questions blank, they can pick and choose which questions to answer, and they can spend more time on the questions they do answer and make sure they get those questions right.
The chart below shows approximately how many questions you can afford to leave blank in a section of the test—Writing, Critical Reading, or Math—based on your target score.
Target Score Number You Should Leave Blank
750–800 0
700-–750 0–1
650-–700 1–3
600–650 2–5
550–600 4–8
500–550 7–12
450–500 10–16
400–450 14–20
This chart is just a guideline. Why? Because we don’t know all your quirky test-taking traits—how careless you can be, how nervous you get, how fast you work, and so on.
But you do know your own particular pitfalls, and you can figure out how to overcome them. We don’t just mean that you can say, “Well, I don’t think I’m great at Improving Sentences questions” or “I think I sometimes get confused by geometry.” We mean you can specifically identify each and every one of your weaknesses: “I really seem to have trouble with Sentence Completions in which the two blanks are supposed to be filled by words that disagree” or “Wow, circles and triangles are giving me tons of trouble.” And once you’ve pinpointed a weakness, then you can fire up the most powerful SAT preparation technique of them all: turning practice tests into the ultimate SAT personal trainer.
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