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New SAT: 1 Year Later



In July 2016, we blogged about the new SAT, which had just released the scores from its first administration. That blog delved into what the new scores might mean from the perspective of an admissions office - now, towards the end of the admissions cycle, we have a clearer picture of how admissions offices are handling the new SAT. As we predicted, colleges have raised their SAT score standards. We will discuss just how much higher colleges’ new SAT standards are and what this means for your student’s application cycle.


On average, applicants need to score about 50 points higher out of 1600 than on the old SAT (3 sections totaling 2400 possible). However, having two sections rather than three compresses one’s ability to improve his or her score. If an applicant is attempting to gain admission to a top school, there are additional factors to consider. Students who were admitted to the top 25 universities in 2017 had a mean SAT score of ~1520. Remember, 1600 is perfect: this means that half of the admitted students had a score higher than 1520, and the other half did not fall far below 1500. Essentially, the range of scores that give an applicant a shot at top schools has narrowed significantly, while the average score has only increased.


So what does this mean for your student? If your student is applying to a top 50 school, test scores still matter and are getting more and more competitive. On the other hand, the silver lining to this transition is that there will likely be an increase in test-optional schools ranked outside of the top 50. These colleges and universities - particularly private, well-endowed ones - offer merit scholarships based on a more holistic assessment of applicants, and many admissions offices have disclosed that they are considering transitioning to a test optional application.


If your student plans to apply to a competitive college, there are a few things one should keep in mind from freshman year onward. A rigorous and well rounded schedule is more important than ever, especially given the new SAT’s focus on depth of understanding for advanced math and reading concepts. In order to adequately prepare for the SAT and/or ACT, it is not enough to simply spend a few months (and a few thousand dollars) on test prep courses. The best preparation for these standardized tests is a consistently challenging academic course load as well as academically enriching extracurriculars, both of which build the problem-solving and analytical skills necessary to succeed.


College admissions success starts with The Essential College Coaches. As early as ninth grade, we work with your student to create the most compelling college application package designed specifically to meet his/her college goals. We have a detailed process that maximizes each of our students’ potential as applicants, and we look beyond the numbers to ensure that your student has done everything necessary to succeed. We have the experience and relationships with admissions counselors to guide your student through each step of the college preparatory process. The students we work with enter college with excitement and anticipation, secure in the knowledge that they have followed a careful and considered process to attend the right college for their academic journey.


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