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Will Your SAT Score Really Help You Get into College?

February 24, 2011 By: Category: College entrance exams, Get into College

Today we have a guest post By Jennifer Cohen, President and Chief Word-Nerd at, a great resource for SAT and PSAT vocabulary prep.

Ask anyone this question, and they’ll answer “YES” so fast it could make your head spin like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist.  SAT preparation is a billion-dollar industry, and the big test prep companies prey on the anxieties of parents and students.  You might hear the wailing of these poor souls, fearful that a score less than 1800 will mean that no college will accept him or her.  Thankfully, the insanity isn’t really based in reality, and a high SAT score may not be as critical as you think.

College Entrance Exams

Photo by Cheese Roc

The truth is that an average SAT score (1200-1790) is enough to get you into just about every school in the country.  In fact, most colleges out there would be thrilled to accept you!  Think about it.  Statistically, about 2/3 of SAT takers are going to score in that average range.  If all colleges only accepted above average scorers, they’d never come close to filling up their classrooms!  Selective colleges make up a tiny percentage of the total number of schools in the country, and if you’re not in their league, it’s OK.  Really.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to do as well as you can on the SAT.  If you are aiming for a selective school (you know who you are), you will need to score higher than most.  And higher SAT scores can qualify you for additional scholarship money.  Finally, if your score is below average, it can seriously limit your college options.  So preparation really can pay off.  But don’t go into test day feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  The reality is that you will most likely score in the average range, which will mean that most colleges want you - and that’s awesome!