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Todd Shively

Determining Your SAT Target Score

It is difficult to reach a goal when you don’t know exactly what that goal is.  If you are a quarterback, your chance of making a successful pass is going to be greatly diminished if your running back is going to be somewhere “on the left of the field down there.”  You want to know exactly where your he is going be so that you can nail him in the numbers.  So let’s talk a bit about the importance of a target score.


What is a Target Score?

A target score is a score that will give you the best chance of gaining admission to the college or university of your choice.  You’ll find more on how this works in my next post.


What Information Will Guide Me In Setting a Target Score?

If you do a web search on “median SAT score” and the university of your choice, chances are your first web page will be the data you are looking for.  This is the most important information you’ll need to set a target.  For example, if Stanford is your reach school, and you do a search on “median SAT score Stanford,” the first page provided by the search engine will likely link you to Stanford’s page on these statistics.  If you page down, You’ll see a table that shows you what the the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile scores are for each part of the test.  The 25th percentile for Critical Reading is 680; the 75th percentile for Critical Reading is 780.  This means that were Stanford admitting only 100 students, 25 of them would have scored 680 or below; and a different 25 would have scored 780 or above.  The other 50 students scored somewhere in the middle.

You should also take into account any scholarships you may be applying for.  Most scholarships will have SAT information about past winners as well, so make sure you add this information into the mix.


What Should My Target Score Be?

Now that you have an idea what the range of scores are both for the college or university and for any scholarships you’ll apply for, set your target score in a way that is both rigorous but realistic for that particular school.  Then you’ll be set up to nail those numbers.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about what to do with the target score.


About Todd Shively

Todd Shively is an ancient graduate of Purdue University, where he changed his mind so many times that he finished with a major in English and a minor in math. He has taught high school in three different states and currently teaches in Scotland, where he lives with his family. In his spare time he bakes his own sourdough bread and tries to work those carbs off doing Crossfit.

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