What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Set a Realistic Target SAT Score


Is your SAT score enough to get you into your dream school?

Our free chancing engine takes into consideration your SAT score, in addition to other profile factors, such as GPA and extracurriculars. Create a free account to discover your chances at hundreds of different schools.

When you’re preparing to take the SAT for the first—or maybe second or third—time, it can be difficult to know where to start. Before you even start studying, it’s important to set a goal for your SAT scores—while staying realistic, of course. Not sure where to begin? Here’s your guide to setting a (realistic) target SAT score.


Keep Your Expectations Realistic

While you want to aim as high as possible, it’s important to keep yourself in check. Understand where you’re starting in order to figure out how much you can improve.


Take a formative assessment to gauge your starting point. This type of practice test will give you a read on what skills you have now and which ones you still need to learn and practice. Learn more about the importance of this test in What Is a Formative Assessment and Why Should I Use One to Study?.


Remember that your initial score is likely to go up as you study and prepare for the SAT. Use the formative assessment to consider which studying strategies are best for you. For instance, if you’re strong in reading but weaker in geometry problems and formulas, you may want to implement a “formula of the day” to memorize.


Find Average Test Scores of Your Prospective Colleges

First and foremost, you should be looking for colleges that are the right fit—not just in terms of rankings, prestige, and difficulty of admission, but those that align with your values and interests.


While you’re reviewing colleges, make note of the average test scores at the schools that interest you. You can usually find the middle 50% SAT score range, meaning the range from the 25th percentile and to the 75th percentile of the most recent freshman class. You should aim to fall at least in the middle of this range. If you’re closer to the 25th percentile, it’s not a deal breaker, but it does make the school more of a reach.

Discover how your SAT score affects your chances

As part of our free guidance platform, our Admissions Assessment tells you what schools you need to improve your SAT score for and by how much. Sign up to get started today.

Consider Score Requirements for Scholarships

Many scholarships base awards on SAT scores among other factors. Identify these scholarships early on, so you know what you need to do and what scores you need to earn to achieve them. Winning these scholarships can help you with college costs. Learn more in How Your SAT Scores Can Help You Earn Scholarships and Getting a Head Start on Your Scholarship Search.


Look at Your PSAT Scores and Most Recent SAT Scores

Use your PSAT score as a starting point, as well as previous SAT scores. While you will improve with studying, as well as simply learning more information in school, your PSAT can give you a rough starting pointing. Learn more about interpreting your PSAT scores in What Does My PSAT Score Mean?.


Determine Your Target Score

Use information such as practice tests, your PSAT, and the average scores of the colleges on your list to set a realistic target score for the SAT. You should also factor in and consider how much time you’ll have for prepping and studying. Make a plan and stick to it. Then you can start working on achieving your goals.


For more advice on preparing for the SAT, read:


SAT Prep: 5 Things to Expect

6 Tips to Avoid Falling Behind on SAT Prep


Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.


Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.