As well as maintaining a good GPA, achieving a solid SAT score is also important – but what is a good score? How will your SAT score affect the rest of your college application?
The first thing to remember is that an SAT score is just one part of your college application as a whole. Although achieving a high score will certainly look good, college admissions officials look at your college application as a whole, so don't think that a great SAT score means you don't have to try equally hard on the rest of the application.
The SAT is divided into three sections – critical reading, writing, and mathematics. Each section has a potential score of 800, meaning that 2400 is the best possible score. However, this is very rarely achieved, even by the most gifted students, so try not to fixate on this number. According to USA Today, the average SAT score last year was around 1500.
As the test covers three distinct subject areas, you can still achieve high marks even if you're not so great at one particular area. For example, if you're an avid reader and enjoy writing but aren't so good at math, you'll probably achieve higher results on the reading and writing sections of the test. This means that you can give the math section a little extra attention at study time.
What constitutes a good score depends entirely on the schools you're applying to. Some universities will have higher college admissions requirements, and will require higher SAT scores from prospective students. The benchmark SAT scores that a school will require of potential applicants should be listed on the school's website under the admission requirements section. If it isn't, talk to your college admissions adviser or contact the university's admissions department and ask what score you should be aiming for. You can also use college search engines to look for schools based on their admissions criteria.
Although Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale expect high numbers from potential candidates, if you don't score 800 in each category, you shouldn't worry. Well-written essays and glowing letters of recommendation can be just as important in your college application as SAT scores. However, study hard for your SAT prep work, especially if you're aware that your abilities in a specific subject area could use improvement. Above all, work hard and give every part of your college application equal care and attention.