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David Recine

Do 8th Grade SATs Count?

8th grade sat -Magoosh

If you are taking the SAT in middle school, timing is important. Only 8th grade SATs can count for college admissions.

Old SAT scores — ones that are five years old or older — are treated as out-of-date by the College Board and by most universities. This means that sixth and seventh grade SAT scores aren’t accepted for university admissions; college starts at least five years after these middle school grades.

But once you get to the eight grade, your scores will still be less than five years old by the time you begin your university studies. So in that sense, an SAT score from the 8th grade could count for college admissions if you choose to use it.

Still, it is unusual for a college applicant to submit SAT scores from middle school instead of high school. Because of this, admissions offices may look at these older, not-quite-expired SAT scores more carefully. For colleges that consider scores from all SATs taken, there is a chance your university might choose not to count an 8th grade SAT score.

When you can count your 8th grade SAT score

If your 8th Grade SAT score is a top score

A high percentile SAT score will always impress university admissions representatives. If you managed to get a high percentile SAT score before you even started high school, that looks all the more impressive.  Universities will treat a truly excellent 8th grade SAT score as a sign that they’re dealing with a bright and promising applicant.

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If your high school grades are excellent

Suppose your 8th grade SAT score is only average or is very close to the minimum cutoff for the school you’re applying to. If your high school GPA is really good, an SAT score that might otherwise seem too low and too old can be accepted.

In fact, this can work in your favor. A not-so-great 8th grade SAT score followed by four years of strong school performance demonstrates academic improvement. And the ability to grow as a student is something universities like to see.

If you’re applying to schools that do not put a lot of emphasis on test scores

Some universities treat SAT scores as a minor part of their admissions requirements, placing far more value on high school GPAs, application essays, and so on.

These universities are not interested in seeing if you can score far above the minimum. And they’re not concerned with how old your SAT scores are, provided they fall inside the College Board’s recommended five-year time limit for old scores.

Your 8th grade SAT can be counted in some ways, even if you retake the exam later

Colleges love to see ambitious, hard working applicants. If you took the SAT in 8th grade, and the retook it at least once in high school for a higher score, this shows you really are ambitions. And it shows good work ethic. Most students are not willing to take the SAT more than once unless they absolutely have to. If you got a qualifying score in the 8th grade and went on to retake the SAT for a higher score anyway, it’s clear that you really strive to be the best student you can be.

When you shouldn’t count your 8th grade SAT score

If your 8th grade SAT score isn’t that great

Suppose your 8th grade SAT score is only so-so. If a university sees a middle school SAT score that is at or near their minimum cutoff, they may want to see if you can do better now that you’re older.

University admissions offices might also worry that in the years since the eight grade, you’ve become worse student rather than a better one. If you just barely met a school’s requirement before high school, the university will want to make sure you continued to meet their standards during high school. Speaking of which….

If your high school grades are poor

Even if you got a really high score on your 8th grade SAT, low high school grades can make that 8th-grade score seem unreliable. So if you have an older SAT score but have been doing poorly in high school, consider retaking the SAT. A brand new top score on the SAT may compensate for a lower-than-average GPA. But an 8th grade SAT score — even a great one — won’t really counterbalance bad high school grades.

If the SAT was significantly redesigned since you took the test

Every standardized test gets updated from time to time. Some updates are small. Other updates — such as the new, redesigned SAT — are huge! If the SAT itself has changed a lot since you were in the eighth grade, then schools may refuse to accept an 8th grade SAT score.

So if you took the SAT in the 8th grade last year, just before the College Board unveiled the New SAT, universities may not accept that SAT score in the future. On the other hand, suppose you took an 8th grade SAT this year, after the New SAT was rolled out. In that case, your score has a better chance of being accepted, provided there aren’t any other “game changing” updates to the exam between now and your junior/senior years of high school.

The takeaway

There are plenty of advantages to taking the SAT in the 8th grade. It’s good practice for a possible retake in high school. It helps you get a feel for your upcoming high school and college coursework. And an 8th grade SAT score might be accepted by universities when you begin your college applications in your senior year of high school.

Still, 8th grade SAT scores are not a “sure thing,” compared to high school SATs. For the reasons outlined above, there’s a chance your 8th grade SATs could be rejected by universities if that is your only SAT score. So don’t go into an 8th grade SAT exam with college applications on your mind. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about applying for college in 3 or 4 years, when you’re finishing up high school. For now, just see your 8th grade SAT as a valuable learning experience. If it does get you into school in the next several years, that’s just the icing on the cake.

About David Recine

David Recine is a Verbal Test Prep Expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor's in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and A Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. David has taught test prep and language arts to students of all ages, and from every continent. He currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA; when he's not working for Magoosh, he keeps himself busy with cooking, art, and parenting.

8 Responses to “Do 8th Grade SATs Count?”

  1. Jennifer says:

    My 8th grade son took the new SAT and scored 1410/1600. 720 in English and 690 in Math. Should we keep the score as an official record? He will definitely take it again  in high  scool

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Congrats to your son! That’s a great score, especially for an 8th grader. Now, with regard to keeping the score it’s really up to you. It is impressive to get that score at his age. But, at the same time, in high school, your son is likely to potentially score much higher, and you don’t really need to have this score in your official record as you’ll likely use you high school score for college purposes. As such, it really is a matter of personal preference! Again, great job! 😀

  2. N says:

    I’m an eighth grader, and my predicted score for the SAT is from a 1250-1390. My dream school is Cornell, but it requires all scores to be sent, so should I do it?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Great question! The key issue here is what the score choice policy is. You can read about this here: Some schools require that you send all scores and others don’t. You can check with Cornell now whether or not that’s true, and when you expand your list, you can check those schools too. Another question I’d ask a school that requires all scores is how seriously they rate a low score if it was in eighth grade. My instinct is that they wouldn’t necessarily hold it against you, but that’s just a guess. Our job is to get you the high score, and questions about how they’re viewed in admissions are best sent to the schools specifically 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    My son got 1540/1600 in grade 8. 740 in English and 800 in Math. We have requested CB to have this score kept as the permanent record.

    Can we use this grade 8 SAT score for college application? Does it worth to retake the SAT later ? The SAT curves recently seem getting very sensitive and unpredictable. Instead of retaking the SAT in high school and hoping to get 20+ points more, we are thinking of taking ACT at the end of grade 10. Does this make any sense ?

    He also got a 800 on SAT subject math 2 when he was in grade 8. Can this score be used as one of the subject tests for college application later ?

    Thank you for your advice.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Kate,

      Those are great questions, and I can tell that you are a very involved and concerned parent. That’s fabulous! I applaud you.

      We are really more of test prep experts than college admissions experts, so I would recommend that you contact each school that you’re thinking of applying to directly. Colleges and universities can have slightly different rules, but each admissions department will be able to tell you whether they will be willing to accept those scores in a few years.

      Some students do find it easier to get a high score on the ACT than the SAT, while others feel the opposite. A great way to tell whether the ACT might be a good option for your son would be to take a full-length practice test under accurate testing conditions (no phone, no music, no distractions, each section timed accurately) and see how that goes. Magoosh has a free ACT practice test that you can use.

      Your son did a great job on his SAT, and I hope this advice helps you plan for the next steps on his testing journey. 🙂

  4. lillian says:

    so whats a good score??

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Lillian,

      It completely depends on what schools and scholarships you are interested in applying for. For more information, see the article “ACT Scores: Everything You Need to Know.” Here is an excerpt from that article:
      “For most students, scoring above average, 21 or higher, is a good score. For those applying to elite colleges, scores in the 94th percentile (30+) or even the 98th percentile (33+) are good scores”

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