Setting a Goal

  • Setting a goal is one of the most important things you can do to get ready for the SAT or ACT. Here are some steps to help you:

    Step 1: Find your baseline

    Without baseline scores, you will not be able to determine where you are and where you would like to be. If you took the PSAT, or a SAT/ACT, you should know your base. If you didn’t, it’s time to get out your pencil and a timer and take a test.

    If you are doing a practice test in the comfort of your own home make sure you set the stage. It should look and feel like a testing environment, no phones or distractions and bright light and clear workspace. When you sit down to take the test clear your schedule so that you can complete the whole test in one sitting. This is the best way to get the feel for the test and an accurate baseline score.

    Step 2: Pick Your Target

    With a baseline in hand, you will be able to accurately pick a goal. The main reason we take these tests is for college admission. So, go to your college’s website to find the median scores of the incoming freshmen class. If you want to be in next year’s freshmen class, it will help to have scores in a similar range.

    Here is an example:

    The median range SAT score of entering students at Princeton University was the following in 2011:

    • Reading 700-790
    • Math 710-800
    • Writing 700-790


    Please note that this is the 25th/75th percentile of students in the freshmen class, so 25% scored below that and 25% scored above that.

    Step 3: Design Your Study Program

    Now that you know where you want to go, figure out how to get there! To do this you will need to figure out when you will take the next test and work backward from there. See the next section for information about how to set up a study program!

    A Few Tips:

    You don’t need scores from both the ACT and SAT so play to your strength.You can take the test more than once.Many schools allow score choice- in that they take the best scores even if they are on two different tests. Check with your school to see what they do.

    Know the average SAT/ACT scores of the Freshmen class at the college you want to go to. Use this as a gauge to determine the score you want to shoot for.