Reaching Your SAT or ACT Target Score

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Reaching Your SAT or ACT Target Score


As you progress through your high school career, you will soon encounter the dreaded SAT or ACT. As the test day approaches, you’ve probably scoured Google with college-specific inquiries regarding test scores.

  • “What SAT score do I need for NYU?”
  • “What ACT score do I need for Rutgers?”
  • “What standardized test score should I have for Princeton?”

This doesn’t come as a surprise because each school’s admission requirements vary depending on competitiveness, and thus hold different standardized score expectations. Based on your application choices, your recommended SAT or ACT score for your top colleges will also vary widely. With many factors to consider, you may find yourself asking, “how can I reach my target score.” Well, Test Prep Score has the inside scoop on your critical questions for standardized test scores.

What is a Target SAT/ACT Score?

Your Target Score refers to the threshold you hope to reach on the SAT or ACT. This target score should match the recommended range listed by colleges on your list. Keep in mind that not everyone will earn a perfect score or even a great one. So, determining an appropriate SAT/SCT score range can seem intimidating. After all, you want to remain competitive with your fellow applicants while keeping a realistic score range in mind. How do you go about finding that middle ground?

Determining Your Target SAT & ACT Score

One strategy to determine a target score is to take the SAT or ACT once without much preparation. This unprepared score will serve as a great baseline for how well you can potentially perform on both tests. Of course, students will improve with dedication and practice and should expect to score slightly higher than the initial test.

But what should you do if you feel nervous about reporting a lower test score? A few universities do require you to submit all your SAT or ACT scores rather than just your highest score. If one of these schools is on your list, you may only want to take the tests once you feel you have adequate preparation.

However, a superior tactic involves completing several practice tests for your chosen standardized test ahead of time. While not as official as an actual SAT or ACT, these practice tests allow you to determine a rough average of the score range you will earn on the real test, allowing a better judgment of an ideal score range.

Once you have an idea of a score range, you can then cross-check it with your targeted universities. Comparing this score with past university applicant averages will be a valuable indicator of your likelihood of getting accepted. More importantly, this critical information can help you narrow down the colleges on your list.

How to Reach a Target ACT/SAT Score

With your target scores in mind, you should consider the remaining time you have before you must take the chosen standardized test. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can dedicate more of your time to preparing, and do so more extensively. For example, students preparing for either test long-term (8-12 months from now) should consider hiring a private tutor or register for an online program to focus on areas in need of improvement.

For your convenience, Test Prep Score has a list of exceptional tutors in the New Jersey area that can help you focus on any specific content you would like to improve on. Practice is the name of the game for students with a shorter test window and a closer college application date.

Whether through online practice tests or specific exercises, familiarizing yourself with the material that could appear is imperative to securing your target score. It also helps to use the SAT/ACT time conventions to familiarize your mind with the time constraints you will be under on the day of either test.

Aim for the Highest Possible ACT/SAT Score

Preparing for the SAT and ACT is undeniably an extremely intimidating and stressful process. Even once you establish your target score, you may feel like your score on either test has the potential to weigh down your admission prospects. Ultimately, put in the time to do well on the test you choose, and the score you get will get you where you need to be!

Do not let the high pedestal of these tests distract you from your preparation and excitement to move further in your education. Keep focused and you will reach your target score on time. For any SAT or ACT questions, strategies, and resources, refer to our blog for a treasure trove of test prep tips and news.