How to Prepare for the SAT: Step 2. Score and Analyze Your Practice SAT
Score and analyze your practice SAT.
You could manually score your SAT using the answer keys provided with each exam on CollegeBoard's website, but CollegeBoard has created a great app called "Daily Practice for the New SAT" that lets you take a photo of your bubble answer sheet and it gives you back an overall score with further breakdowns by category. We recommend using the app. In fact, we use it ourselves because it saves a lot of time and is very accurate. It's been around since 2015, so most of the bugs have been worked out and the app is regularly updated for new iOS and Android versions.
Daily Practice for the SAT also provides practice questions, which can be useful for keeping students in the test-taking mindset. You can read more about the app here, or download it:
After you've scored your test and looked at the breakdowns by category, you might be surprised by how well, or how poorly, you did in some of the sections.
SAT scores range from 400-1600, with 1060 being the average. Top tier schools like the Ivy Leagues prefer scores in the 1450-1600 range. Even competitive state schools like UC Berkeley and UCLA prefer students with scores of 1350 or higher. To see what score ranges your choice schools typically accept, just Google the school name plus "average SAT scores." For example, searching "UC Berkeley average SAT scores" will pull up a bunch of information about the school's typical SAT scores, GPAs, and acceptance rates.
Colleges and university typically report the 25th-75th percentile range scores for the SAT, ACT, and GPAs. These numbers will give you a pretty good idea where you currently rank in the potential applicant pool. If your score is near the top of the range for your choice schools, then congratulations, you have a decent shot of getting in (but it's still a crapshoot!). If you were only 25-100 points away from your target score, you should be able to close the gap with a bit more effort.
If you scored 150-300+ points below your target score, then dab away your tears, compose yourself, and don't be deterred because big score increases are possible. But it will take focus, grit, and hard work to pull your scores up the percentile ladder. Keep reading our How to Prepare for the SAT series and we'll help you get there.