Unlike standardized tests such as the GED, the SAT doesn't have a minimum "passing" score. Instead, your college application will be more appealing the higher your score is. Preparation, subject matter knowledge and awareness of basic test-taking strategies can each help boost your score and your chances of college admission.
Studying for the Test
Studying for the test can significantly boost your scores. Ohio State University reports that students saw, on average, a boost of 60 points with SAT preparation classes. Because this is an average, though, your improvement could be much more. A test preparation class, test-taking booklets and tutoring on any subjects with which you struggle should all be a part of your test study strategy.
The SAT doesn't only test knowledge. It's also a measure of your test-taking skills. Minimize the time you spend on each question by skipping questions you don't understand, then going back to them if you have time at the end of the test. Cross out any answers that you know are wrong. This makes it easier to make an intelligent guess or to test the remaining answers. Be sure to check for logical inconsistencies. For example, if you know there can't be a '1' in the answer to a problem, cross out any answers where '1' is an option.
Taking practice tests in a similar environment to the SAT can get you comfortable with the test itself. Try taking one or two whole practice tests a few weeks before the test. Time yourself, and take the test in a quiet, distraction-free environment. If you notice that you run out of time or get bored, then you'll still have time to boost your speed and concentration prior to the test.
Re-Taking the Test
Re-taking the SAT can help you boost your scores. Many schools take the highest composite score. For example, if you score higher on math on the first test and higher on verbal on the second, your school might combine your two highest scores. However, retaking the test may be an unwise strategy if you don't put in additional study time prior to the second test.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.