First of all, you need to have a target score in mind for both the Math portion and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion of the SAT. For more information about how to select a realistic target score that’s within the range of scores feasible for acceptance at the colleges you intend to apply to, check out CollegeVine’s What Parents Need to Know About SAT and ACT Studying Prep, or contact one of the expert advisers available through the CollegeVine Mentorship Program.
Once you have a target score in mind, figure out what you’ll need to do to achieve it. That doesn’t mean studying quadratic equations or grammar rules, though it might ultimately include those things. What that means specifically is that you will need to know the raw score most likely to yield the converted score you’ve set as your target. This isn’t a precise science, since each SAT is scored slightly differently depending on its difficulty, but you can get a general idea of how many questions you can afford to get wrong on each section by looking at raw score conversion charts.
Start with the raw score conversion chart available for the official SAT practice tests. It can be found on page seven of the booklet, Scoring Your SAT Practice Test #1. A quick glance through this chart will reveal that in order to achieve a perfect 800 on the math test, you cannot miss any questions. To score a 750, you can miss four questions. To score a 750 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, you can miss up to nine questions on the Reading section, as long as you don’t miss any on the Writing section, or you can miss up to six questions on the Writing section, if you don’t miss any on the Reading section. Of course, there are all sorts of combinations in between.
Familiarize yourself with this chart to get a general idea of the raw score you’ll need to achieve to get the converted score you want, but also know that these numbers might change very slightly from test to test. Use this knowledge to help shape your game plan for test day. If you know you want to score a 750 on the Math section, you can miss up to four questions. That means if you come to a question that seems nearly impossible, you can make your best guess and move on to the next question up to four times before you need to really worry about your score. Using this strategy means that you’ll have more time to focus on getting the easier questions correct and double-checking your work without totally jeopardizing your score or time management.
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