When SAT scores are released, it’s natural to be a little confused and a little anxious when reading the score report. But, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here are three steps to guide you in making sense of your child’s score report.

1. Interpret

Maybe you’re wondering “how good is a 1200?” or “what counts as a good score?” So, your first step is to understand what your student’s score report even means. Just a heads-up, the score report will contain a lot of information, but you don’t need to be concerned with all of it right now (that comes later). At this point, you want to focus on the most important results--the ones colleges are most likely to care about and the ones that provide the most insight into relative performance (how your child did compared to others): Total Score, Section Scores and Percentile Scores.

Each section of the SAT (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math) is scored on a 200-800 scale. The Total Score will range between 400 and 1600 and represents the sum of these two individual scores. (Note: This is a change from the previous SAT which reported 3 individual scores and a total score between 600 and 2400.)

Percentiles will help you understand how your student did compared to other students who took the test. The percentile is the percent of people your student scored higher than. For example, if they are in the 75th percentile, they scored higher than 75% of students who took the test. The highest possible percentile is 99%.

2. React

Okay, so now you know how your student did compared to other students. But how are you supposed to feel about their score? Just because they didn’t score in the 99th percentile doesn’t mean they didn’t do well! What counts as doing “well” differs from student to student. Here are two things to consider:

1. Do their results line up with their grades?

If your student is a straight A student but scored an 800 total on the SAT, something’s not quite right. Maybe they have test anxiety. Maybe they ran out of time. In an ideal world, their scores will be on par with or better than their grades. Looking at the percentiles can help with that.

2. How do their scores compare to the averages for the colleges they want to apply to?

If you already have an idea of the kinds of schools your child is considering, take a look at their admissions statistics and see what the average scores are for admitted students. If they fall short, they’ll need to raise their score or make up ground in other areas of their application to have a good shot of admission. If they scored above the average, they should be in good shape on this aspect of the application. Some schools may offer financial aid to students with higher-than-average-for-the-school SAT scores. Take a look into the schools your teen is interested in to see if that’s an option.

So, once you’ve considered the above, you should determine where things stand. Are their scores in line with their grades? Are they high enough to meet the average of their target schools. Or, is a re-test in order?

3. Plan

If your student is happy with their score: Great, congratulations! They are done! Let them celebrate, they’ve earned it. Encourage them to use their time to focus on other things, such as academics and extracurriculars. Next step: college applications. We have timelines available showing what students should be doing when to prepare for college applications. One for juniors and one for seniors.

If your student is not quite satisfied with their score: No worries, there are still opportunities left to boost their SAT score. And, let’s face it, the March test was a bit of an unknown for everyone. That said, don’t let your student take the test again without doing something differently to prepare for it! Seize the opportunity and get them to focus on what didn’t go so well the last time and what they can do differently this time. Not sure what they need? Testive can help you figure out a plan that makes sense for your family.

Schedule a call with a Student Success Advisor.