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Advantage Testing Q&A Archive

Advantage Testing has provided top-rated standardized test preparation and academic tutoring for more than 30 years. Through our experiences working with students, we have addressed the same questions and concerns many times over. Thus, we created this resource as a starting point to understanding the uses and applications of standardized testing, and how to get yourself ready to take one.

Advantage Testing SAT Q&As

Jump to an SAT Question

How has the SAT changed due to COVID-19?

In January 2021, the College Board announced that they had eliminated all future SAT Subject Tests (except the May and June 2021 international administrations). Additionally, the SAT Essay will no longer be administered after the June 2021 test date.

Throughout 2021, some test centers may cancel their SAT administrations due to public health concerns. Make sure to check your College Board account and this website for test center cancellations.

What is a good SAT score in 2021?

Each year, median and mean SAT scores change slightly, but every year, what defines a “good” SAT score depends on your goals. First, keep in mind that everyone starts their SAT preparation at a different point, and your goal score should be one that you can achieve with hard work and sustained study. Second, SAT scores vary greatly among colleges and universities, so ideally your goal score is within the range of the schools to which you are hoping to apply. For example, if your score is above the 75th percentile of students enrolled at your top-choice college, you can feel confident that you have a “good” score.

The two primary SAT components are (1) Math and (2) Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (commonly known as “Verbal”). Each of these is scored on a scale from 200 to 800, for a total SAT score ranging from 400 to 1600. For students who graduated in 2019, the mean Math score was 528, the mean Verbal score was 531, and the mean SAT total score was 1059.

Many colleges with competitive admissions have average scores that are much higher than these national averages. Check the websites for the schools to which you plan to apply to find the mean and 75th percentile SAT scores of enrolled students.

Note that prior to 2016, the SAT provided three main scores scaled from 200 to 800, for a total score from 600 to 2400, so obviously, a total score from this period will be much higher than a total score from today’s test!

Why should I take the SAT?

The SAT is designed to evaluate a student’s college readiness by determining how well the student has mastered the core concepts of a high school curriculum. The SAT is an important component of applying to most U.S.-based colleges and universities. Some colleges now have Test Optional or Test Blind admissions policies, meaning they do not require SAT or ACT scores to apply. Admissions testing policies are frequently updated, so be sure to verify specific testing requirements on a school’s official website, and make sure the information you’re looking at is current. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for online, you can always call or email the school’s admissions office.

You can take the ACT instead of the SAT, as schools have no preference between these tests. Many students also submit AP Exam scores with their applications. While generally not required, AP Exams can show achievement over a range of academic subject areas in Math, Science, Languages, and the Humanities.

What are the subjects on the SAT?

The two main SAT sections are (1) Math and (2) Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (commonly known as “Verbal”). Within Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, the Reading Test covers comprehension and analysis of short texts from literature, history/social science, and science; the Writing and Language Test covers principles of grammar, syntax, idiom, and clear and effective expression. The two sections of the Math Test cover algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics. 

What is the average SAT score?

From a nationally representative sample, the 50th-percentile SAT total score is 1010, the 50th-percentile Math score is between 500 and 510, and the 50th-percentile Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is between 500 and 510.

For students who graduated in 2019, the mean SAT score was 1059, the mean Math score was 528, and the mean Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score was 531.

Does the SAT have an essay?

In January 2021, the College Board announced that the SAT would no longer have an essay after the June 2021 test administration. The optional SAT Essay was not previously calculated in your main SAT scores. Most colleges and universities did not require the SAT Essay for admission.

What were SAT Subject Tests?

In January 2021, the College Board announced that they would no longer offer SAT Subject Tests. The last Subject Test administration in the U.S. was in December 2020, and the last international Subject Test administration will be in June 2021. To demonstrate your academic abilities in specific subjects, take as many AP Exams as you can.

SAT Subject Tests were one-hour tests (with standard timing) covering advanced material specific to a particular academic subject. The College Board offered SAT Subject Tests in Literature, U.S. History, World History, Mathematics Level 1, Mathematics Level 2, Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, and Spanish.

How is the SAT scored?

The maximum score on the SAT is 1600. You will receive two main scores, each on a scale from 200 to 800, in two separate categories: (1) Math and (2) Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (commonly known as “Verbal”).

Your will also receive two Cross-Test Scores, scaled from 10–40, in Analysis in Science and Analysis in History/Social Studies. Additionally, the SAT records seven “Subscores,” scaled from 1–15, in the following topics: Words in Context, Command of Evidence, Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving & Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. These subscores may offer some insight into determining your areas of relative strength and weakness, but they are rarely considered independently in college admissions.

Can you study for the SAT in a month?

Generally speaking, studying for the SAT takes much longer than one month (we recommend studying for the SAT for approximately a year). If you have only one month to prepare, focus on taking timed, full-length practice tests. Review concepts on the questions that you miss. By taking full-length tests, you will become familiar with the test and develop the stamina needed to maintain your focus throughout the entire test. Reviewing the concepts on questions that you miss will help you pinpoint areas in which you need additional practice.

Is the SAT or ACT harder?

The SAT and ACT test similar concepts, and neither is inherently harder than the other. Some students tend to perform better on the ACT, while others tend to perform better on the SAT. Both the SAT and the ACT are accepted for admission to most U.S.-based colleges and universities. You should take the test with which you feel most comfortable. The most effective way to choose between the ACT and the SAT is to compare your scores after taking a full-length, timed practice ACT and a full-length, timed practice SAT.

How difficult is the SAT?

The content on the SAT is learnable and can certainly start to feel easy after substantial practice. However, many students find the test daunting at first. It takes dedication and hard work to become comfortable with all of the concepts tested on the SAT.

You can study for the SAT by yourself, in classes, or with a tutor. We have found that preparing for the SAT with one-on-one tutoring can help students develop a program tailored to their individual strengths and weaknesses. An experienced tutor will also help you break down and understand concepts that you may initially find difficult, helping you gain skills and confidence until such concepts are more familiar.

How many times can you take the SAT?

There is no limit to how many times you can take the SAT. In the U.S., the SAT is offered seven times each year—in June, August, October, November, December, March, and May. Most students perform better when they retake the SAT because they have had more practice and experience with the test content and format.

Even though you can take the SAT an unlimited number of times, you should not sit for every administration across multiple years. Take the test only when you feel sufficiently prepared and comfortable with the content. We recommend that most students take the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year, allowing time to retake the test the following summer and fall if necessary. Thus, we also recommend that students begin preparing in the second half of their sophomore year. Check out our college admissions timeline for more help planning your testing schedule.

Do colleges look at SAT scores?

Most U.S.-based colleges and universities require the SAT or ACT for admission and will look at your test scores when deciding whether to admit you. SAT scores allow colleges to form a basis of comparison for applicants from different high schools. However, your test scores are only one part of your college application. Colleges and universities also consider your GPA and the rigor of the classes that you took in high school, your application essays, your letters of recommendation, and your extracurricular activities.

When should I consider retaking the SAT?

Most students benefit from retaking the SAT at least once, especially with additional preparation. We have found that students who retake the SAT are more comfortable after their initial test date and perform better on subsequent tests. Moreover, many schools allow students to submit only their best test scores through the Score Choice program. Some schools will also “superscore,” counting only the best Math and the best Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores across multiple official test administrations.

However, if you have reached your goal on your first test, you should not feel obligated to take the test again. Don’t take the test for the first time until you feel comfortable with the content (students often choose the spring of their junior year) and then retake the test a few times if needed (students often do this in the summer following junior year and the fall of senior year).

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

Both the SAT and the ACT can be taken for college admissions, and colleges do not prefer one test to the other.

Scoring

  • SAT: 400–1600 composite scale
  • ACT: 1–36 composite scale

Test Length

  • SAT: 3 hours
  • ACT: 2 hours and 55 minutes + 40-minute optional essay

Reading

  • SAT: 52 questions in 65 minutes; passage-based reading comprehension; informational graphics included
  • ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes; passage-based reading comprehension

English

  • SAT: 44 questions in 35 minutes; passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, and punctuation; informational graphics included
  • ACT: 75 questions in 45 minutes; passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, and punctuation

Math

  • SAT: no calculator section: 20 questions in 25 minutes (including 5 grid-in questions); calculator section: 38 questions in 55 minutes (including 8 grid-in questions); trigonometry, radians, volumes, complex numbers, congruence and similarity, simple rational expressions, higher order equations, circle-related topics; emphasis on algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics
  • ACT: 60 questions in 60 minutes; can used approved calculator; all multiple choice; arithmetic, algebra I and II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry and precalculus including functions, conic sections, combinations and permutations, logarithms, and matrices

Science

  • SAT: no science section; science questions throughout the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Tests
  • ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes; interpretation and application of scientific data presented in tables, pie charts, bar graphs, scatter plots, etc.

Essay

  • SAT: after the June 2021 administration, the College Board will no longer administer the SAT Essay
  • ACT: 40 minutes; optional; writing and composition, analysis and development of an argument; 4 scores: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions

If you are deciding between preparing for the SAT or ACT, we recommend that you take both a timed, full-length practice SAT and a timed, full-length practice ACT. Compare your scores and your overall comfort level with each test. Then prepare for and take the test on which you feel that you will eventually perform best.

When should you start studying for the SAT?

We recommend that students begin studying for the SAT in the middle of their sophomore years. This will give you plenty of time to learn all of the underlying math, reading, and grammar concepts and allow ample opportunity to practice applying them on timed practice tests. Most students who follow this timeline are prepared to take their first official test in the spring of their junior year, leaving plenty of time to retake the test the following summer and fall. See our college admissions timeline for more information to help you plan your test preparation schedule.

What is the best way to prepare for the SAT?

We have found that one-on-one tutoring is the best way to prepare for the SAT. An excellent tutor will be able to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses and tailor a preparation plan that will guide and motivate you to achieve your best score. However, depending on your goals, there are many ways to prepare for the SAT. For example, you can also take an SAT class or prepare on your own. If you are studying on your own, Khan Academy provides an excellent resource for online instruction.

When preparing for the test, make sure to study the underlying concepts on all of the sections of the test (not just the sections that you like best) and then practice what you have learned by taking timed, full-length practice tests. Taking practice tests is a key element to any preparation plan because you need to be able to complete the test within the allowed time limit. Practice tests will also help you grow familiar with the logistics of the official test, and develop the stamina necessary to maintain your focus throughout a full test.

Is your GPA or SAT score more important?

At most colleges in the U.S., both your GPA and your SAT score are important for college admissions. Your GPA reflects how you have performed in your high school coursework; your SAT score demonstrates how you have performed on a standardized test intended to measure core academic skills.

Remember that your college application also includes application essays, letters of recommendation, and your extracurricular activities. While each component of your college application is important, you will be evaluated across multiple dimensions.

Why are SAT scores so important?

SAT scores often play an important role in college admissions decisions. The SAT is designed to test your readiness for college-level work, and all colleges want to enroll students who will be able to succeed there. However, keep in mind that SAT scores are only one part of your application. Typically, colleges also evaluate your high school transcript and GPA, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and application essays. SAT scores provide a common measure for colleges to compare students.

Should you take the SAT more than once?

Yes, scores often improve when students retake the SAT. Students are generally more comfortable with the test after they have taken it for the first time, and they have had more time to study and apply the concepts tested. If, however, your initial score is well above the 75th percentile of students admitted to your top-choice schools, then you most likely do not need to take the SAT again.

Is a 1400 on the SAT good?

Based on a nationally representative sample, a 1400 is at the 97th percentile. Thus, for most students, a 1400 is a very good score. SAT scores, however, should always be assessed within the context of the individual student’s goals. For example, a 1400 is below the average score of students enrolled at some highly selective universities. The best general advice for all students is to make sure your goal score is within your reach and within the range of the institutions to which you are planning to apply.

Advantage Testing GRE Q&As

Jump to a GRE Question

What is the GRE?

The GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) is a standardized entrance exam that can be submitted for application to many graduate schools, including master’s degree and doctorate programs, most business schools, and some law schools. As such, it is the most versatile graduate-level standardized test. In most countries, the official test is administered on computers. The GRE has three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

Note that GRE Subject Tests are not the same as the GRE General Test. GRE Subject Tests (offered in Biology, Chemistry, Literature and English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology) are required by certain specialized graduate programs.

What is GRE exam eligibility?

Anyone is eligible to take the GRE, which is is commonly used for admission to doctoral and master's programs. In addition, almost all MBA programs accept the GRE and GMAT for admission. The GRE is also accepted in lieu of the LSAT at certain JD programs. Each year, over half a million people take the GRE General Test. Students who take the GRE appreciate the flexibility of being able to use a single standardized test to apply to multiple graduate or dual-degree programs.

The GRE is generally taken by college students and graduates who plan to attend graduate school in the United States. GRE scores are valid for five years.

Is the GRE hard?

The content tested on the GRE is challenging, but it is also learnable. While you may feel that the GRE is hard the first time you take it, rigorous study of the concepts and practice in applying them over time will likely make the test much easier.

In more than 30 years of helping students prepare for the GRE, we have found that one-on-one tutoring helps students achieve their best scores. Studying with a dedicated tutor will help you grow confident with the material because an excellent tutor can provide you with an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses and show you how to approach each question that you will encounter on the exam.

What GRE score do I need for Harvard?

There is no benchmark score required for admission to Harvard, nor is there a single score that will guarantee acceptance. The Harvard Business School M.B.A. Class of 2021 had a median GRE Verbal score of 163 (with a range of 147–170) and a median GRE Quantitative score of 163 (with a range of 145–170). Note that only 20% of enrolled M.B.A. students at Harvard Business School submitted GRE scores.

What is a perfect score on the GRE?

A perfect score on the GRE is 170 Quantitative, 170 Verbal, and 6 Analytical Writing. However, it is very uncommon to earn a score this high on the GRE. Scores at the 95th percentile are a 164 in Verbal, a 169 in Quantitative, and a 5.0 in Analytical Writing.

Which test is easier, the GMAT or GRE?

Some students find that they are naturally suited to perform better on the GRE, while others find that they generally perform better on the GMAT. Both tests include Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing sections. Some of the content and the question types are different. For example, the GMAT tests grammar, while the GRE tests vocabulary.

If you are deciding between preparing for the GRE or GMAT, first check to make sure that the programs to which you are applying accept both tests. If you can apply with either test, we recommend that you take a full-length practice GRE and a full-length practice GMAT. Compare your scores and your overall comfort with each test. Then plan to prepare for and take the test on which you feel that you will perform your best.

How long should I study for the GRE?

Because you need time to learn all of the underlying math, reading, vocabulary, and writing concepts and to practice applying them on timed practice tests, we recommend that students prepare for the GRE with study sessions, tutoring, and timed practice testing multiple times per week for at least three or four months.

How many times can I take the GRE?

You can take the GRE up to five times in a 12-month period and no more than once every 21 days. GRE offers ScoreSelect reporting (whereby you select only the scores you wish to be reported to schools), so you should feel comfortable retaking the test. Note, however, that certain schools (particularly law schools) will request a complete record of your testing history.

Can I study for the GRE in one month?

Studying for the GRE typically takes more than one month. If you have only one month to prepare, focus on taking full-length, computer-based practice tests supplied by ETS (Educational Testing Service, the organization that administers the GRE) and on reviewing the topics related to any questions that you miss. This strategy will allow you both to pinpoint your weaknesses and to become familiar with the format and pacing of the test.

When should I start studying for the GRE?

We recommend that most students plan to begin preparation for the GRE a year in advance of their application deadlines. This schedule gives students ample time to prepare for the test and retake it if necessary, while allowing for sufficient time to finish the other components of graduate school applications, such as the personal statement.

What are the subjects in the GRE?

The two main sections of the GRE are Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning. There is also an Analytical Writing section.

GRE Subject tests are different—they test mastery in specific academic subjects (i.e., Biology, Chemistry, Literature and English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology).

How can I do well on the GRE?

The best way to perform well on the GRE is to practice. Learn the underlying concepts in math, vocabulary, and reading comprehension that are tested on the GRE—don’t try to learn tricks. Then refine how you apply these concepts by taking full-length practice tests and reviewing every question that you missed.

We have found that one-on-one tutoring provides the most effective way to prepare for the GRE because tutors can tailor a preparation program to your strengths and weaknesses. However, any kind of practice, whether with a tutor, in a classroom, or by yourself, will help you study for the GRE.

How much does it cost to take the GRE and how do I pay?

In the U.S., the GRE General Test currently costs $205 per administration. You can reinstate canceled scores for $50 and reschedule your test date for $50. Each GRE Subject Test administration costs $150. You can pay for the GRE with a credit card through your ETS (Educational Testing Service, the organization that administers the GRE) account.

Can the GRE be waived?

Graduate schools that require standardized tests as part of their applications will not usually waive such requirements. However, keep in mind that M.B.A. and J.D. programs allow you to take different tests in lieu of the GRE, and some graduate programs do not require standardized tests for admission. Make sure to look up the test requirements of the schools and programs to which you plan to apply.

How do I get a perfect score on the GRE?

We have found that a rigorous, long term preparation working one-on-one with tutors provides the most effective way to prepare for the GRE. Studying with a dedicated tutor will help you fill in any gaps in your knowledge and grow confident with the material because an experienced tutor will provide you with an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses and show you how to approach each question that you will encounter on the exam.

While you should certainly strive to perform to the best of your ability on the GRE, keep in mind that perfect scores are very uncommon. A 170 Verbal is at the 99th percentile, a 170 Quantitative is at the 96th percentile, and a 6.0 Analytical Writing is at the 99th percentile.

You can also improve your score through rigorous practice. Take full-length, computer-based official practice tests. After you finish each test, review every question you got wrong, and practice similar questions until you feel comfortable with the content on the test. The best way to improve is to practice, not to try to learn “tricks.”

Do I lose points for wrong answers on the GRE?

Beyond not earning points for them, incorrect answers are not penalized on the GRE, so be sure you do not leave any questions blank (i.e., guess on questions for which you do not know the answer). You can skip and come back to questions within a section, but you cannot return to questions from a previous section once you have moved on to a new section.

Keep in mind that both the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections are section-level adaptive—the testing platform will select a second section based on your performance on the first section of that type (Quantitative or Verbal).

When should I take the GRE?

We recommend that students plan to take the GRE for the first time six months before their application deadlines. Keep in mind that you can retake the GRE once every 21 days and up to five times in a 12-month period. By planning to take your first GRE six months in advance of your application deadlines, you will give yourself plenty of time to prepare, to take and retake the GRE, and to dedicate time to completing the other elements of your applications.

Most students benefit from retaking the GRE at least once. The GRE offers a ScoreSelect option that allows you to choose which scores to send to schools. On your test day, you can send either your most recent test score or all of your test scores from the past five years. After your test day, for a fee, you can send either your most recent test score, all of your test scores, or any (individual or combination) of your test scores from the past five years.

How many questions are on the GRE?

The computer-based GRE General Test consists of 82 questions:

2 Analytical Writing essays

  • 1 Analyze an Argument essay
  • 1 Analyze an Issue essay

40 Quantitative Reasoning questions (two 20-question sections)

  • Around 16 Quantitative Comparison questions across the two sections
  • Around 24 other Quantitative Reasoning questions across the two sections

40 Verbal Reasoning questions (two 20-question sections) 

  • 20 Reading Comprehension questions across the two sections
  • 12 Text Completion questions across the two sections
  • 8 Sentence Equivalence questions across the two sections

Note that paper tests are slightly longer—each Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning section consists of 25 questions instead of 20 questions, and the sections are five minutes longer than on the computer test.

Is the GRE all multiple choice?

While many of the questions on the GRE are multiple choice, the test is not entirely multiple choice. The test begins with two free-response essays. The Quantitative Reasoning sections have four question types: standard multiple choice, multiple choice with more than one possible answer, quantitative comparison, and numeric entry (in which you type a numerical response). The Verbal Reasoning sections have three question types: standard multiple choice, multiple choice with more than one possible answer, and reading questions in which you must select a sentence from the passage.

Can you use a calculator on the GRE?

You cannot take a calculator with you to any GRE administration. The GRE computer platform includes a basic four-function calculator for arithmetic calculations on the Quantitative Reasoning sections. If you are in a country that administers paper tests, you will be provided a basic four-function calculator to use on Quantitative Reasoning sections.

The calculator provided for Quantitative Reasoning is designed to help you with arithmetic computation, not problem solving. You can use it to save time when a problem involves longer computations, but you still need to know the mathematical concepts tested on the GRE. We suggest that you complete your practice tests and other study materials while using a calculator like the one provided on the official test to get used to completing questions with the tools available to you.

What is a good score on the GRE?

What defines a good score depends on your goals. The mean GRE score is 150 Verbal, 153 Quantitative, and 3.5 Analytical Writing. The 75th percentile is around 157 Verbal, 160 Quantitative, and 4.0 Analytical Writing. The 90th percentile is around 162 Verbal, 166 Quantitative, and 5.0 Analytical Writing.

When setting goals, you should take into account the mean scores at the schools to which you are planning to apply, your practice test scores, and the other strengths of your graduate school application. Different schools enroll students with different average scores, and different programs approach the test differently. For example, the Quantitative Reasoning section may be weighed more heavily when applying to math and science programs, and the Verbal Reasoning section may be weighed more heavily by English and humanities programs.

What math is tested on the GRE?

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section does not test advanced math topics, so do not worry if you have not taken a math class for a few years. The math tested on the GRE includes familiar topics: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. The types of math questions are: quantitative comparison, numeric entry, multiple choice with a single answer, and multiple choice with multiple possible answers. Many students find the math on the GRE to be similar to the math they encountered on the SAT or ACT.

How has the GRE changed due to COVID-19?

ETS now offers a remotely proctored GRE General Test to provide students additional testing options that will continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic. The remotely proctored test has the same content, format, and testing limits as the in-person GRE.

The April, September, and October 2020 GRE Subject Tests were canceled. The next opportunity to take a GRE Subject Test will be April 2021.

What is the difference between the GRE paper test and the GRE computer test?

While most students take the GRE General Test on computers, a paper version of the GRE is offered in locations where computer testing is unavailable. If you live in one of these countries, visit the ETS website to find a nearby test center.

Both versions use the same scoring scales and comprise the same three GRE sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. These sections will include the same types of questions as well, but the GRE paper test doesn’t include any reading questions in which you must choose a sentence from a given passage to answer the prompt. 

The major difference between the tests is that the computer GRE is section-level adaptive, meaning that the second Quantitative and second Verbal sections of the test will be easier or harder depending on how you perform on the first section of that type.

Each Quantitative and Verbal section of the paper GRE includes 25 questions, instead of 20 questions like the computer-based GRE (and each section of the paper test is five minutes longer). Visit the ETS website for a full breakdown of the format and structure of the paper and computer tests.

Also note that all GRE Subject Tests are administered as paper tests only, and they are offered three times each year. You can find information about GRE Subject Test centers on the ETS website.

What should I bring to an official GRE administration?

For an in-person computer-delivered GRE administration, you should bring:

  • Photo identification (ETS encourages students to bring two forms of ID)
  • Authorization voucher (if applicable)

For remotely proctored GRE administrations, you should:

 For a paper-delivered GRE administration (offered in locations where computer testing is unavailable), you should bring:

  • Photo identification (ETS encourages students to bring two forms of ID)
  • Your confirmation email (received after your registration for the test date was processed)
  • Number 2 pencils

Advantage Testing LSAT Q&As

Jump to an LSAT Question

What does the LSAT consist of?

Starting in August 2021, with standard timing, the in-person LSAT consists of four 35-minute multiple-choice sections:

  • Logical Reasoning (Arguments): 24–26 multiple-choice questions
  • Reading Comprehension: 26–28 multiple-choice questions
  • Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games): 22–24 multiple-choice questions
  • Experimental: 22–28 unscored multiple-choice questions; can be any one of the previous three categories

The four sections of the LSAT occur in no particular order, and there is a break following the second section. The experimental section, which does not count toward your score, is included to assess questions that may be used on future versions of the exam. You will not know which section is experimental when taking the test, so you should treat each section as though it will count toward your score.

The LSAT-Flex (offered from April 2020 to June 2021) is identical but does not include an experimental section. 

In addition to taking your LSAT or LSAT-Flex, you must also complete the LSAT Writing, which asks you to produce a well-reasoned argument in response to a question. While your writing sample is not calculated into your LSAT score, it will be sent to every law school to which you apply. Faculty readers at some law schools take the writing sample seriously as evidence of your ability to write under time pressure, an important skill in law school. LSAC will not release your scores until you complete the LSAT Writing.

How did the LSAT change in 2019?

The administration of the LSAT significantly changed in 2019. In July 2019, the LSAT introduced digital testing on Microsoft Surface Go tablets at select test sites, with a full transition to digital testing in September 2019. The format of the multiple-choice sections of the LSAT has not otherwise changed from the paper LSAT, and the content remains the same.

Additionally, as of June 2019, the LSAT Writing is no longer administered at the test site on the day of testing. Instead, students complete the writing sample on a secure online platform “at a time and place of their choosing” (according to the LSAC’s website). If you retake the LSAT, you do not have to complete multiple writing samples as each candidate is required to submit only one. LSAC will not release your LSAT scores until you complete the LSAT Writing.

Can you study for the LSAT on your own?

While you can study for the LSAT on your own or in a class, we have found that one-on-one tutoring provides the most effective preparation for the LSAT. An excellent tutor will be able to determine and address your individual strengths and weaknesses and tailor a preparation plan that will enable you to achieve your best score.

However you choose to prepare for the LSAT, be sure to study the underlying concepts on all of the sections of the test and then practice taking as many timed, full-length practice tests as possible. Taking practice tests is a key element to any preparation plan because you will practice completing questions under timed conditions. Note that one of the most challenging components of the LSAT is completing each section within the allotted time. By taking full-length tests, you will become familiar with the logistics of the official test and develop the stamina needed to complete a full test.

We highly recommend purchasing a subscription to LSAT Prep Plus, which will give you access to more than 70 official practice tests.

Is scratch paper allowed on the LSAT?

Yes, scratch paper is allowed on all multiple-choice sections of the in-person LSAT. You will be provided scratch paper and a pen to use during official LSAT administrations. You should also bring your own pencil and eraser for notes in the provided scratch booklet. You cannot bring your own paper or pen. The digital test interface also allows you to highlight and underline with a stylus provided at the start of the test. You cannot bring your own highlighter or stylus.

You are allowed to use your own scratch paper on remotely proctored LSATs.

When should you cancel your LSAT score?

If you are taking the LSAT for the first time, the Score Preview feature offers an exceptional advantage. This option will allow you to preview and choose to cancel or accept your score before it is added to your score reports. 

After your first official LSAT, if you have reason to believe that your official test went significantly worse than a typical recent practice test (e.g., you uncharacteristically failed to finish an entire reading comprehension or analytical reasoning passage), then you should consider canceling your score. However, it is completely normal to feel uncertain about how well you’ve done on your official test, so don't cancel your score too hastily.

If you do decide to cancel, note that cancellation requests must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the sixth day after your LSAT administration. Besides scores canceled using the Score Preview feature, law schools will be able to see that you canceled your score. Most law schools will ignore the first cancellation, but many schools will expect or require an explanation for two or more canceled scores.

How many times can you take the LSAT?

LSAC began imposing maximum testing limits with the September 2019 LSAT administration.

  • You can take the LSAT no more than three times in a single testing year (June 1 through May 31).
  • You can take the LSAT no more than five times in the current and past five testing years.
  • You can take the LSAT no more than seven times over a lifetime.

These limits do not apply retroactively, so tests taken before September 2019 do not count toward these limits. Due to the global pandemic, LSAT-Flex tests taken from April through August 2020 also do not count toward these limits. 

Note that if you have received a perfect score (a 180) on the LSAT in the past five years, you cannot retake the LSAT.

Are LSAT prep courses worth it?

Determining whether an LSAT preparation course is “worth it” depends entirely on the course specifications (i.e., length and cost) and your individual goals. Studying the core question types, following a study plan, and receiving feedback on test performance can certainly help you prepare for the test. We have found that individual tutoring is the most effective and efficient way to prepare for the LSAT. An excellent tutor will be able to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses, tailor a suitable preparation plan, and impart the tools you will need to achieve your best score. A tutor will also help you find the best way to approach every type of logical reasoning argument, analytical reasoning game, and reading comprehension passage on the LSAT.

How long should I study for the LSAT?

With more than 30 years of experience, Advantage Testing has determined optimal program lengths required for students to achieve their best possible scores for every standardized test. We have found that it takes most students about four to six months of focused preparation to do their best on the LSAT. In that time, we recommend students take as many full-length (including experimental sections) practice tests as possible. 

We recommend that most students begin studying in the spring before they plan to apply to law schools. With this start, you should have enough time to devote to focused LSAT preparation. Furthermore, we discourage students from pursuing internships or jobs during their summer LSAT preparation, unless they commit no more than 20 hours per week to these other activities. LSAT preparation is most effective when it is your primary focus.

You should also incorporate a potential retake into your timeline. For example, if you are planning to submit a fall law school application, you should consider taking the test for the first time in June to give yourself the option to retake the test in July or August; if you are planning to prepare intensively over the summer, you should consider taking the test in both August and October.

Can law schools see if you withdraw from the LSAT?

Law schools will not see if you withdraw online from the LSAT prior to the official administration. Law schools will, however, see if you cancel a score after you take the test—unless it is canceled via the Score Preview feature for first-time test takers. Therefore, we recommend that you take the official test only when you feel comfortable with the content and pacing and sufficiently prepared to achieve your best result.

Note that if you withdraw within a certain time frame (usually about a month in advance of the test), you will receive a partial refund. After the withdrawal deadline, you will not get any refund. Within a certain time frame (usually about five weeks in advance of the test), you can also change your test date for a fee.

What is a good LSAT score?

To determine what is a “good” LSAT score for you, you should take into account the mean scores at the schools to which you are planning to apply, your practice test scores, and the other strengths of your law school application. For example, if your score is well above the 75th percentile of students admitted to your top-choice law school, you can feel confident that you have a “good” score.

LSAT scores are scaled from 120 to 180. The mean score of students who took the LSAT between June 2014 and February 2017 was 150.75, the 80th percentile score was 160, and the 95th percentile score was 168. Selective law schools often have average scores that are considerably higher than these national averages (e.g., the median LSAT score of students enrolled at Harvard Law School and Yale Law School is 173). You can look up the relevant range of scores on the websites of the schools to which you are applying, or on national ranking sites, to determine what LSAT score you will need to present a strong application, or you can use LSAC’s “UGPA and LSAT Score Search” tool.

What is a bad LSAT score?

The LSAT is a law school admissions test. LSAT scores should thus not be considered “good” or “bad” in themselves, but only relative to your goals. When setting goals, you should take into account the average scores at the law schools to which you are planning to apply and the other strengths of your law school application.

LSAT scores are scaled from 120 to 180. The mean score of students who took the LSAT between June 2014 and February 2017 was 150.75, the 80th percentile score was 160, and the 95th percentile score was 168. Selective law schools often have average scores that are considerably higher than these national averages (e.g., the median LSAT score of students enrolled at Stanford Law School is 171). To determine what LSAT score you will need to present a strong application, you can look up the range of enrolled student scores on the websites of the schools to which you are applying, or on national ranking sites. You can also use the LSAC’s UGPA and LSAT Score Search tool to get a rough idea of the likelihood of being admitted to a particular school with a given combination of LSAT scores and GPA.

Do law schools see all of your LSAT scores?

Yes, except for first-time scores canceled using the Score Preview feature, when you take the LSAT more than once, LSAC will calculate an average score that will be printed on your score report along with the scores from all of your individual test dates. Most schools say they consider only the highest score in admissions decisions; however, some schools say they consider all the scores on record, and a small minority of schools say they use the average score. Additionally, if there is a significant difference between your scores (usually five points or more) some schools will ask you to submit an explanation with your application. Always check with the admissions committees of the schools to which you are applying to get up-to-date information on test score policy.

Is it hard to pass the LSAT?

The LSAT is a difficult standardized test, but there is no “passing” LSAT score. If you need to increase your score, don’t worry! The skills needed to achieve a high score can be learned with rigorous study and long-term practice. 

One-on-one tutoring is the best method for LSAT preparation. First, an excellent tutor can help you develop an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to construct the best strategy to approach every type of logical reasoning argument, analytical reasoning game, and reading comprehension passage you may encounter on the test. Second, a tutor will identify and explain concepts that you may initially find difficult, helping you gain skills and confidence until you have mastered such concepts. Finally, a tutor will assign a consistent practice test schedule, helping you gain familiarity applying the skills you learn at the pace of the official test.

Is three months enough time to study for the LSAT?

Preparing for the LSAT requires significant time and a serious commitment. Advantage Testing has found that it takes most students about four to six months of focused preparation to achieve their best possible LSAT scores. However, if you are able to commit a significant portion of each day (at least 6 hours) to your preparation, you can study for the LSAT in just three months.

If you are preparing for the LSAT within a condensed time frame, focus on taking full-length practice tests. The LSAT challenges students to finish sections under extreme time pressure. The best way to get better at the LSAT is to take as many timed practice tests as possible so that you learn to complete sections under the same time constraints that you will experience on the day of the official test. Most importantly, be sure to carefully review each test taken, paying close attention to every question that you answered incorrectly and every question on which you had to guess.

What should I bring to my LSAT?

For every official in-person LSAT administration you must bring:

  • your admission ticket
  • photo identification
  • pencils

You may also bring into the test room the following items in a one-gallon Ziplock bag:

  • ID
  • wallet
  • keys
  • feminine hygiene or medical products
  • pencils
  • an eraser
  • a pencil sharpener
  • tissues
  • beverage in a plastic container or juice box
  • snack

Can I move my LSAT date?

Yes, you can move your LSAT administration to another test date within the testing year (defined as June 1 through May 31) for a $125 fee prior to the test date change deadline (usually about five weeks in advance of the test). You can withdraw online from a test date up to the day before the test. If you withdraw prior to the withdrawal refund deadline (usually about a month in advance of the test), you will receive a $50 refund from LSAC.

If you do not expect to perform your best on the official test, feel free to change your test date. If you take the test and cancel the score later, you will not be able to see your score; moreover, law schools will be able to see that you canceled your score (unless you have canceled your first LSAT score through the Score Preview feature). Most law schools will ignore the first cancellation, but all schools will expect or require an explanation for two or more canceled scores.

What LSAT score do I need for Harvard?

There is no single LSAT score that will guarantee or preclude admission to Harvard Law School. While the LSAT factors heavily in admissions decisions, Harvard Law School also looks at your entire application. Criteria for admission include: the rigor of your undergraduate curriculum, undergraduate GPA, application essays, work experience, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and other factors.

Students admitted to Harvard do score very high on the LSAT. The median LSAT score of students enrolled at Harvard Law School is 173, the 75th percentile is 175, and the 25th percentile is 170—all scores at the 97th percentile and above.

Note that you can take the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT for admission to Harvard Law School.

Which is harder, the LSAT or GRE?

It depends. Some students would score better on the GRE, while others may score better on the LSAT, as these exams test different content in different ways. 

Some law schools accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT. Note that applicants who have official LSAT scores must submit them whether or not they have also taken the GRE. If you are planning to apply to law schools that accept the GRE, you should take a full-length practice GRE and a full-length practice LSAT. Compare your scores and overall comfort with each test, and prepare for the test on which you will do better.

Is it bad to take the LSAT multiple times?

It is not harmful to your admissions chances to take the LSAT twice. We recommend that students allow time for retaking the test when they plan their preparation program. For example, if you are planning to submit a fall law school application, you should consider taking the test for the first time in June to give yourself the option to retake the test in July or August.

However, it is a mistake to take the LSAT before you are fully ready to perform at your highest possible level on the official test. If you generate multiple official LSAT scores (except for first-time scores canceled using the Score Preview feature), LSAC will report an average of those scores to law schools, and a few schools will use the average score in their decision-making process. In addition, law schools will see a record of any score cancellation (except scores canceled through the Score Preview feature), and most will ask for a written explanation of multiple score cancellations.

Also note that taking the LSAT more than three or four times will diminish the impact of your strongest performance—with that many official scores on record, law schools may begin to use, or at least consider, the average score.

Is the LSAT more important than my GPA?

The LSAT is weighted heavily in the law school admissions process, in many cases as much as or more than your cumulative undergraduate GPA. While your academic credentials (GPA and LSAT) are weighted most heavily, law schools tend to look at applications holistically, also taking into account the rigor of your undergraduate curriculum, undergraduate GPA, application essays, work experience, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and other factors when making admissions decisions.

LSAC provides a very helpful UGPA and LSAT Score Search tool, which takes the two key data points of your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score and generates a percentage range for your chance of admission at various schools (note, however, that some law schools, including several highly selective law schools, do not provide data to participate in this search).

Do you lose points for wrong answers on the LSAT?

Beyond not earning points for incorrect answers, there is no additional penalty for wrong answers. LSAT scaled scores are based only on the number of questions that you answered correctly on all scored sections of the test (i.e., excluding the experimental). If you do not know the answer to a question, you should guess. Take the final minute of each section to complete answers for any questions that you did not have time to answer, and leave no questions blank.

When should I take the LSAT?

The LSAT is administered eight times per year—in June, July, August, October, November, January, February, and April. Many students take the test in the summer before or in the fall of their senior year of college. However, other students may choose to apply to law school a few years after completing their undergraduate degree.

Because the LSAT score carries so much weight in the admissions process, it is imperative that you take the test only when you are ready (as determined by practice test scores). Though most law school admissions are rolling, submitting a weaker score to a school earlier will usually result in a lower chance of admission than submitting a better score later. It is important to be confident in your abilities and in your preparation, but it is a mistake to take the LSAT before you are fully ready to perform at your highest possible level on the official test.

You should also be conservative in trying to project an official LSAT score from your practice test scores. It is unusual for students to match, much less exceed, their highest practice test score on an official test. It is much likelier that you will generate an official score that is somewhat lower than your highest practice test score. If a score in that range is not sufficient to accomplish your goals, consider delaying your test.

If you generate multiple official LSAT scores, LSAC will report an average of those scores to law schools, and a few schools will use the average score in their decision-making process. In addition, law schools will see a record of any score cancellation (except for first-time scores canceled through the Score Preview feature), and most will ask for a written explanation of two or more score cancellations.

Can you take the LSAT without a bachelor's degree?

Yes, you can take the LSAT without a bachelor’s degree. However, you must have earned a bachelor’s degree to enter law school. Many students apply for law school the fall of their senior year of college and then enter law school the following fall, after receiving their bachelor’s degree. However, other students may choose to apply to law school a few years after completing their undergraduate degree.

If you plan to apply directly after finishing your undergraduate degree, we recommend that you start studying for the LSAT in the spring of your junior year, focusing primarily on LSAT preparation the summer between your junior and senior years. This approach allows time to retake the test later in the fall, if necessary.

Can I apply to law school before taking the LSAT?

Most schools require that you submit LSAT scores with your application, though an increasing number of law schools will accept GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores (and some have even begun to accept MCAT or GMAT scores). Before applying to most law schools, you still need to take the LSAT.

You can, however, start the application process before taking the LSAT. As you begin your LSAT preparation, you should determine to which schools you intend to apply so that you can set a realistic goal. You can also start planning your application essays and letters of recommendation while preparing for the LSAT.

How much does the LSAT cost?

Each LSAT administration costs $200. When you apply to law schools, you must also use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which costs an additional $195. Each individual score report sent to Law Schools costs $45.

LSAC (Law School Admission Council) also offers package discounts on these fees:

  • LSAT, CAS, 1 Law School Report: $430
  • LSAT, CAS, 6 Law School Reports: $650 

You can change your test date for a fee of $125. You can change your test center for a fee of $125. You can learn more about LSAT fees here.

Is there math on the LSAT?

No, the LSAT does not explicitly test math. You may see some questions about percentages in the logical reasoning (arguments) section, and some analytical reasoning questions (i.e., logic games) may resemble math problems, but these questions are designed to test your logical reasoning, not your mathematical knowledge.

How did the LSAT change in response to COVID-19?

In response to COVID-19, LSAC introduced the remotely proctored LSAT-Flex. Since April 2020, all LSATs have been offered as LSAT-Flex tests, and LSAC will continue to offer the LSAT-Flex until June 2021. With only one logical reasoning (arguments) section and no experimental section, the LSAT-Flex is shorter than the standard LSAT. The LSAT-Flex is still scored on a scale of 120 to 180. Note that LSAT-Flex tests taken from April to August 2020 do not apply toward testing limits (the number of times an applicant is allowed to take the LSAT within a given period), but all LSAT-Flex tests after this period will apply to the testing limits.

Starting in August 2021, the LSAT will have four sections (instead of the traditional five sections). There will be one logical reasoning (arguments) section, one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning (logic games) section, and one unscored experimental section. The LSAT will still be scored on a scale of 120 to 180. LSAC will continue to offer a remote proctoring option until at least June 2022 and may also provide an option for students to take the LSAT at test centers once they can safely do so.

Advantage Testing ACT Q&As

Jump to an ACT Question

What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT?

The ACT and the SAT are admissions tests accepted by most U.S. colleges and universities; schools do not prefer one test over the other.

Scoring

  • ACT: 1–36 composite scale
  • SAT: 400–1600 composite scale

Test Length

  • ACT: 2 hours and 55 minutes + 40-minute optional essay
  • SAT: 3 hours

Reading

  • ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes; passage-based reading comprehension
  • SAT: 52 questions in 65 minutes; passage-based reading comprehension; informational graphics included

English

  • ACT: 75 questions in 45 minutes; passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, and punctuation
  • SAT: 44 questions in 35 minutes; passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, and punctuation; informational graphics included

Math

  • ACT: 60 questions in 60 minutes; can used approved calculator; all multiple choice; arithmetic, algebra I and II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry and precalculus including functions, conic sections, combinations and permutations, logarithms, and matrices
  • SAT: no calculator section: 20 questions in 25 minutes (including 5 grid-in questions); calculator section: 38 questions in 55 minutes (including 8 grid-in questions); trigonometry, radians, volumes, complex numbers, congruence and similarity, simple rational expressions, higher order equations, circle-related topics; emphasis on algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics

Science

  • ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes; interpretation and application of scientific data presented in tables, pie charts, bar graphs, scatter plots, etc.
  • SAT: no science section; science questions throughout the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Tests

Essay

  • ACT: 40 minutes; optional; writing and composition, analysis and development of an argument; 4 scores: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions
  • SAT: after the June 2021 administration, the College Board will no longer administer the SAT Essay

If you are trying to decide between preparing for the ACT or SAT, we recommend that you begin by taking a timed, full-length practice ACT and a timed, full-length practice SAT. Then compare your scores and your overall comfort level with each test. You should prepare for and take the test on which you feel that you will perform best.

Which test is harder, the ACT or the SAT?

The ACT and SAT have many similarities—they both assess your college readiness by testing skills in Math, Reading, and Writing. Neither test is objectively “harder” than the other. Some students perform better on the ACT, others perform better on the SAT, and most students find their performance on either test to be about the same.

If you are deciding between preparing for the ACT or SAT, we recommend that you take both a timed, full-length practice ACT and a timed, full-length practice SAT. Compare your scores and your overall comfort level with each test. You should prepare for and take the test on which you feel that you will eventually perform your best.

What is the ACT used for?

The ACT is designed to evaluate your college readiness by determining how well you have mastered the core components of a typical high school curriculum. The ACT is an important part of applications to most U.S.-based colleges and universities. However, keep in mind that some schools now have Test Optional or Test Blind admissions policies, meaning they do not require ACT or SAT scores to apply.

Admissions testing policies are frequently updated, so be sure to verify specific testing requirements on the official website of any school to which you are applying and make sure the information you’re looking at is current. If you can’t find the information you need online, you can always call or email the school’s admissions office.

Is 17 a good score on the ACT?

For high school graduates from 2016, 2017, and 2018, a score of 17 was below the threshold “College Readiness Benchmark Scores” for all sections of the ACT. A composite score of 17 was at the 32nd cumulative percent (on the English Test, a 17 was at the 39th cumulative percent; on the Mathematics Test, the 40th cumulative percent; on the Reading Test, the 31st cumulative percent; on the Science Test, the 29th cumulative percent).

Thus, for most students, 17 is not a good score. ACT scores, however, should always be assessed within the context of individual goals. Keep in mind that many students do not achieve their goal the first time they take the test, and that rigorous practice and long-term study of the tested concepts can help students substantially improve their scores.

What is a good ACT score? What is a bad ACT score?

What determines a "good" ACT score for you depends on your goals. Different colleges and universities have different medians and ranges of standardized test scores, so your goal should be within the range of the schools to which you intend to apply. Keep in mind that everyone starts their ACT preparation at a different point, and your ideal score should also be one that is within reach.

ACT scores are scaled from 1 to 36. For students who graduated in 2018, the mean composite ACT score was 20.8, the mean score on the English Test was 20.2, the mean score on the Mathematics Test was 20.5, the mean score on the Reading Test was 21.3, and the mean score on the Science Test was 20.7.

Selective colleges often have average scores that are considerably higher than these national averages (e.g., the average composite ACT score of students admitted to Brown University is 34). To determine the score you will need to be a competitive applicant, check the websites of the schools to which you plan to apply or other college-ranking websites to find the range of ACT scores of admitted students.

Remember that your ACT score is only one part of your college application. Colleges and universities also consider your high school GPA, coursework, application essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities.

How many times can you take the ACT?

As of fall 2020, there is no limit on the number of times you can take the ACT. Depending on the policies of the colleges and universities to which you are applying, we generally recommend that you take the ACT as many times as you need to in order to achieve your goal.

Many students plan to take the ACT for the first time in the spring of their junior year. With this timetable, we recommend beginning preparation in the second semester of your sophomore year, and certainly no later than the start of your junior year.

Is a 30 on the ACT good enough for Ivy League schools?

For high school graduates from 2016, 2017, and 2018, a composite score of 30 was at the 93rd cumulative percent. On the English Test, a 30 was at the 91st cumulative percent; on the Mathematics Test, the 95th cumulative percent; on the Reading Test, the 88th cumulative percent; on the Science Test, the 94th cumulative percent.

Thus, for most students, 30 is a good score. However, a 30 is below the average score of students admitted to the nation’s most selective schools. For instance, at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and Columbia, the 25th percentile ACT score is 33 and the 75th percentile score is 35. At the University of Pennsylvania, this interquartile range is 34–36; at Cornell and Dartmouth, 32–35.

If you feel you need to improve your score, don’t worry! Few students achieve their goal the first time they take the ACT; however, with long-term study of the concepts and practice applying them, all students can improve their scores.

What is a good ACT score for a freshman or sophomore?

What defines a “good” ACT score depends on your own goals. As a freshman or sophomore, you probably have not been exposed to all of the core academic concepts tested on the ACT, so your score would likely be lower than it would be as a junior or senior.

As you define your goal, keep in mind that everyone starts at a different point, and your goal should be one that you can achieve with hard work and sustained study. Also note that the medians, means, and ranges of ACT scores vary greatly among colleges and universities, so ideally your goal is within the range of the schools to which you intend to apply.

For most students, we recommend beginning ACT preparation in the second semester of your sophomore year. You should then be prepared to take the ACT for the first time in the spring of your junior year, leaving time to retake the test the following summer or fall, if needed. However, some students take the test earlier or later. It’s always best to take the ACT when you feel prepared and confident in your ability to achieve your best score.

What ACT score is needed for Harvard?

Harvard is a selective and competitive school, and even a perfect ACT score will not guarantee acceptance. At Harvard, the 25th percentile ACT score is 33 and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35. The average ACT score of students admitted to Harvard is 34.

Keep in mind that ACT scores are only one part of your application. You will also be asked to submit your high school transcript, letters of recommendation, and application essays. ACT scores provide one measure for colleges to evaluate applicants, but they form only one aspect of the profile you present in your application.

Do colleges look at how many times you take the ACT?

Each college and university has its own policy regarding how it considers ACT scores. Some schools want to see all of your ACT scores, though they may consider only the highest scores when making admissions decisions. Other schools allow you to submit only your highest ACT scores. Still other schools may superscore your test, meaning they will evaluate only your highest score on each of the four sections (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science) across multiple test administrations. You can now send official ACT superscore reports to schools that accept them. It is always a good idea to confirm the specific test reporting policies of the colleges and universities to which you plan to apply.

Do not worry if you feel that you need to retake the test! Most students take the ACT more than once. We recommend that you first take the test after you have practiced and feel comfortable with the content, ideally by the spring of your junior year. This schedule will leave plenty of time to continue preparing and retake the test the following summer and fall, well in advance of college application deadlines.

Do you really need to take the ACT?

If you are applying to U.S. colleges and universities, you should strongly consider taking the ACT or the SAT. Either the ACT or the SAT can be used for admission to most U.S. colleges and universities, and schools do not prefer one test over the other. Note that many schools now have Test Optional or Test Blind admissions policies, meaning they do not require ACT or SAT scores to apply. However, some of these policies have been put in place solely as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some have further requirements if you choose not to submit test scores (e.g., you may be required to submit supplemental materials). Always check the individual school’s testing policy on the school’s website or by contacting the admissions office to be sure.

If you are concerned about your test performance, keep in mind that test scores are not the only way to demonstrate your credentials on a college application. Colleges and universities review all aspects of your application when making their admissions decisions. Your GPA and the rigor of the classes you take in high school, your application essays, your letters of recommendation, and all of your extracurricular activities will play a role in college admissions decisions. While your test scores may provide a quantitative measure of comparison, these other components can also help you stand out as an applicant.

When should you take the ACT for the first time?

The ACT is designed to test your college readiness by evaluating your knowledge of the core concepts of a standard high school curriculum. Most students take the ACT for the first time in the second half of their junior year, leaving plenty of time to retake the test the following summer and fall. We recommend that you begin studying for the ACT toward the end of your sophomore year. This timeline will give you plenty of time to learn the underlying math, science, reading, and grammar and allow you ample opportunities to practice applying them on timed practice tests.

However, some students take the test earlier or later; take the ACT when you feel prepared and confident in your ability to achieve your best score. Refer to our college admissions timeline for more information.

How can I raise my ACT score fast?

Studying for the ACT is generally not a quick process because the ACT is designed to test your knowledge of the core concepts of a high school curriculum. If you do not have much time to prepare, focus on taking full-length practice tests and reviewing the topics related to any questions that you miss.

We recommend studying for the ACT for approximately a year, starting in the second half of your sophomore year of high school. Long-term preparation gives you time to learn the underlying concepts and to practice applying those concepts on timed practice tests. 

Advantage Testing has found that studying for the ACT through one-on-one tutoring yields the best results because an excellent tutor can provide you with an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses.

Do I have to report my ACT score?

Each college and university has its own policy regarding ACT score reporting. Some schools may ask you to report all ACT scores, while others may allow you to choose which scores to send. Some schools will accept superscore reports, while others may choose to look only at full test scores.

The official ACT FAQ website also provides instructions about how to delete an ACT score, by writing to: 

ACT Institutional Services
P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168
USA

What is an average ACT score for the first time taking the test?

The ACT does not publish data about the first time each student takes the ACT. From more than 30 years of experience, we have found that most students do not achieve their best score the first time they take the ACT.

After long-term preparation, most students perform better when they retake the official ACT because they are less anxious and have had more practice and experience with the test content and format.

Can you take the ACT for free?

The fee for each full ACT administration in the 2020–2021 cycle is $55 (or $70 with the optional Writing Test). When section retesting becomes available in 2021, the fees will be $44 for one section, $48 for two sections, and $52 for three sections.

Fee waivers are available for students who have demonstrated financial need. You can find more information about applying for a fee waiver here. As of fall 2020, ACT will offer up to four fee waivers to qualifying students (double the number previously offered), and students who have taken the ACT with a fee waiver can send an unlimited number of free score reports.

What should I bring to an official ACT administration?

When you take an official ACT at a test center, you should bring:

  • Your ticket
  • Photo identification
  • Number 2 pencils
  • A watch (but not a smartwatch)
  • An approved calculator (view the official ACT Calculator Policy here)
  • Snacks

You should not bring:

  • Books
  • Notes
  • Scratch paper
  • Highlighters
  • Pens
  • Any electronic device, other than an approved calculator
  • Any nicotine products

You can view additional information about what you can and cannot bring on the ACT Test Day checklist.

How long should I study for the ACT?

The ACT is designed to evaluate your college readiness by testing your familiarity with the core concepts of a high school curriculum. It takes a significant amount of time to learn all the tested math, science, reading comprehension, and grammar concepts and to practice applying them on timed practice tests.

With this in mind, most students should plan to study for the ACT for at least a year. Such a timeline will give you the opportunity to master the material in manageable assignments over the long term. We have found that most students achieve their best scores when they begin preparing for the ACT toward the end of their sophomore years in preparation to take the ACT for the first time in the spring of their junior year. This schedule will leave time to retake the test, if necessary, the following summer and fall. You can refer to our college admissions timeline for more detailed information.

If you have less time to prepare, either on your own or with a tutor, focus on taking timed practice tests. Review the concepts underlying the questions that you miss. This approach will allow you both to pinpoint your weaknesses and to become comfortable with the format and pacing of the test.

What is the question format of the ACT test?

The ACT consists of four multiple-choice sections, called “Tests,” and an optional essay:

  • English Test: 75 multiple-choice questions spread over five passages
  • Mathematics Test: 60 multiple-choice questions
  • Reading Test: 40 multiple-choice questions spread over four passages
  • Science Test: 40 multiple-choice questions spread over six passages (note that older practice tests may include seven passages)
  • Optional Writing Test: one essay prompt

Starting sometime after summer 2021, you will be able to retest individual sections after you have taken at least one full ACT.

What subject areas are on the ACT?

The ACT consists of four required multiple-choice Tests on the following subjects:

  • English Test: five passages, with questions covering Production of Writing (Topic Development and Organization, Unity, and Cohesion), Knowledge of Language, and Conventions of Standard English (Sentence Structure and Formation, Punctuation, and Usage)
  • Mathematics Test: questions covering Preparing for Higher Mathematics (Number and Quantity, Algebra, Functions, Geometry, and Statistics and Probability), Integrating Essential Skills, and Modeling
  • Reading Test: four passages (Literary Narrative, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science), with questions covering Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Science Test: six passages (in the format of Data Representation, Research Summaries, and Conflicting Viewpoints), with questions covering Interpretation of Data, Scientific Investigation, and Evaluation of Models, Inferences, and Experimental Results

The ACT also has an optional Writing Test, an essay that will be assessed to evaluate your writing skills and ability to analyze an issue.

How much time do you get to complete the ACT test?

Standard timing for the ACT is:

  • English Test: 45 minutes
  • Mathematics Test: 60 minutes
  • 10-minute break
  • Reading Test: 35 minutes
  • Science Test: 35 minutes
  • Unscored experimental section: 20 minutes
  • 2-minute break
  • Optional Writing Test: 40 minutes

Students who have documented needs for accommodations can request and may be granted additional time.

How should I prepare for the ACT test?

Through more than 30 years of experience, we have found that long-term, one-on-one tutoring is the best way to prepare for the ACT. An experienced tutor will be able to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses and tailor a preparation plan that will enable you to achieve your best score. However, there are many ways to prepare for the ACT; for example, you can also take an ACT class or prepare on your own.

When preparing for the test, make sure to study the underlying concepts on all of the sections of the test (not just the sections that you like best) and then practice what you have learned by taking timed, full-length practice tests. Practice tests are a key element to any preparation plan because you need to expose yourself to the tested material and be able to complete the test within the given time limit. Practice tests will also help you grow familiar with the logistics of the official test and develop the stamina necessary to maintain your focus throughout a full test.

How do I send my ACT scores to colleges?

When you register for the ACT, you can send your scores to up to four colleges at no additional cost (students who have received fee waivers can send their scores to an unlimited number of colleges). Note, however, that these colleges will receive your scores before you have the opportunity to review (and possibly delete) them. If you want to select which scores to send to colleges (assuming those colleges allow selective reporting), you can order additional score reports from your ACT web account for a fee.

Regular additional Score reports for scores after September 1, 2017, cost $13 each. Additional Score Reports for archived scores (i.e., for tests taken before September 1, 2017) cost $38 each. Regular score reports are processed within a week of the request and then delivered to colleges within two weeks after that. Archived scores take an additional one or two days to process.

How do I get my ACT score report?

Score reports are posted online to your ACT web account. Your scores on the multiple-choice portion of the ACT will be available about two weeks after taking the official test (though scores can sometimes take as long as two months to become available). Scores on the optional Writing Test will become available about two weeks after the multiple-choice scores become available. Note that scores for the October administration come out later than other administrations. 

If you choose computer-based testing once it becomes available in 2021, your scores on the multiple-choice sections will be available much faster—as soon as two days after the test administration.

What is the average ACT score?

For students who graduated in 2018, the average composite ACT score was 20.8 on a scale from 1 to 36. The average score on the English Test was 20.2, the average score on the Mathematics Test was 20.5, the average score on the Reading Test was 21.3, and the average score on the Science Test was 20.7.

Keep in mind that the average scores of students admitted to colleges and universities with highly selective admissions are generally much higher than these national average scores (e.g., the average ACT score of students admitted to Yale is 34). When you are trying to determine your goal, look up the average and 75th percentile scores of students at the schools to which you plan to apply.

How is the ACT changing in 2021?

Starting sometime in 2021, the ACT will offer two new features:

  • You will be able to choose to take the ACT as a computer-based test or in paper-and-pencil format.
  • You will be able to retest individual sections of the ACT after you have taken at least one full-length ACT (i.e., you can take one, two, or three sections of the test at a time).

Can you take the ACT online?

Starting sometime in 2021, ACT will offer a remote testing option for students to take the ACT online at home. 

Starting in 2021, U.S. test takers will have the option of computer testing. When you sign up for a full ACT, you will be able to choose computer or paper testing. The upcoming section retests must be administered on computers. Keep in mind that you must take a full ACT before you will be able to take section retests.

Note that international ACTs are already administered on computers.

Is the online ACT different from the paper ACT?

Once they become available, the computer-based ACT offered at test centers or through remote proctoring will have the same content, structure, and timing as the traditional test. The only difference between the tests will be how they are administered.

In 2021, the ACT will also introduce section retesting, which will allow you to retake individual sections of the ACT (up to three sections at a time). This option is not available for paper testing. The content and format of each section on a retest will be the same as those of the section on the full ACT.

Should I take the ACT online or on paper?

If you are taking section retests (starting in 2021), you will not have the option to take the ACT on paper; retests will be available only on computers. If you are taking a full ACT and have the option of paper or computer testing, you should pick the format on which you feel most comfortable. Make sure to take at least one practice test on each format to help you determine which is easier for you. Once you decide, practice using that format to prepare for test day.

Should I retake certain sections of the ACT?

When section retesting becomes available in 2021, you should plan to retake certain sections of the ACT. In most circumstances, we recommend that students retake the ACT (see our college admissions timeline for more details). In particular, with ACT’s new retesting option, we recommend that students retake the sections on which they feel they need to improve. Retesting limited sections will allow you to prepare intensively for those sections. 

Keep in mind that the ACT will always include your highest composite ACT score from a single administration in your score reports, even superscore reports; some schools may choose not to use superscores and instead consider your top ACT score from a single sitting. Verify the individual policies of each school to which you intend to apply as you plan your testing and retesting strategy.

Do colleges care if you combine ACT section scores?

Some colleges will accept ACT superscores, while others may choose to look only at full ACT scores from a single sitting. You can now send official ACT superscore reports. A superscore is calculated by combining your highest section scores from all full ACTs and all section retests (once they become available in 2021). Note that superscore reports will still contain at least one composite full ACT score and all scores from the test events that comprise the superscore. Some colleges and universities may choose not to use the superscore when evaluating applications; make sure to confirm the score reporting policies of the colleges and universities to which you are planning to apply.

How does superscoring work on the ACT?

Historically, some colleges have calculated a superscore from the complete set of scores reported on a standard ACT score report. You can now send official ACT superscore reports with a composite superscore, which is calculated by combining your highest section scores from full ACT tests and all section retests. Note that score reports that superscore will still contain at least one composite full ACT test score and all scores from the test events that comprise the superscore. Some colleges and universities may choose not to consider the superscore when evaluating applications, so make sure to verify the score reporting policies of the colleges and universities to which you are planning to apply.

Advantage Testing SSAT Q&As

Jump to an SSAT Question

What is the SSAT?

The SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) is a standardized test taken for admission to independent and private elementary, middle, and high schools. 

The SSAT is split into different levels, based on grade level at entry:

  • Elementary Level SSAT: for students applying to grades 4 and 5
  • Middle Level SSAT: for students applying to grades 6–8
  • Upper Level SSAT: for students applying to grades 9–12

What is the difference between the SSAT and SAT? Which test is harder?

The SSAT and SAT are both standardized admissions tests, but they are administered at different points throughout a student's middle and high school years. The SSAT is used in admissions to independent elementary, middle, and high schools. The SAT is used in college and university admissions as well as for applications to certain summer programs.

Accordingly, the SAT is more difficult than the SSAT because it tests more advanced material. The SAT assumes that students have completed most of a high school curriculum, while the SSAT does not.

However, the SSAT is designed to be a challenging test targeted to your grade level, and it is difficult to achieve a top-percentile score. If you want to improve your performance on the SSAT, we have found that one-on-one tutoring helps students achieve their best scores. A dedicated tutor will develop an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses, helping you gain confidence, develop methods for approaching each question you will encounter on the exam, and achieve your best score.

What subjects does the SSAT test?

Students who take the SSAT will receive scaled scores in each of the following subjects:

  • Quantitative: The quantitative sections test the math content that you are expected to have covered in your school curriculum: arithmetic, elementary algebra, geometry, and other grade-appropriate concepts.
  • Reading: The reading comprehension section contains around eight passages with approximately five multiple-choice questions per passage, for a total of 40 questions. Most questions test your understanding of the passage’s main ideas and how well you absorb key information. Other question types ask you to make inferences, test your understanding of vocabulary, and see if you understand the purpose or tone of the passage.
  • Verbal: The verbal section contains two question types: synonyms and analogies. Both of these question types directly test your vocabulary.

You will also have to complete an essay responding to a given prompt.

How many questions are on the SSAT?

The Middle and Upper Level SSATs have the following sections/number of questions in the order given:

  • Essay
  • Section 1 (Quantitative): 25 Questions
  • Section 2 (Reading Comprehension): 40 Questions
  • Section 3 (Verbal): 60 Questions
  • Section 4 (Quantitative): 25 Questions
  • Experimental Section (unscored): 16 Questions

The Elementary Level SSAT has the following sections/number of questions in the order given:

  • Section 1 (Quantitative): 30 Questions
  • Section 2 (Verbal): 30 Questions
  • Section 3 (Reading Comprehension): 28 Questions
  • Essay
  • Experimental Section (unscored): 15–17 Questions

What type of math is on the SSAT?

The SSAT tests the math that you are expected to have covered in your school curriculum at your grade level, including arithmetic, elementary algebra, geometry, and other concepts on the Upper and Middle Level SSATs. Each level of the SSAT is designed to test concepts that should be familiar (e.g., the Upper Level SSAT tests more advanced math concepts than does the Middle Level SSAT).

Are you allowed to use a calculator on the SSAT?

No, calculators are not allowed on the SSAT, but that’s okay! Math questions on the SSAT are written in such a way as to not require lengthy or complex arithmetic calculations best performed on a calculator. The calculations that you will be expected to complete are short enough to finish within the time limits of the test without a calculator.

Is there an essay on the SSAT?

Yes, the SSAT includes an unscored essay. The essay will be the first section of your test (Upper and Middle Levels), and you will have 30 minutes to complete it (with standard timing). On the Elementary Level SSAT, the Essay is the last section, and it is allotted 15 minutes (with standard timing). Your essay is sent to the schools to which you apply as evidence of your ability to write in a timed setting.

How many times can I take the SSAT?

Middle and Upper Level students in the U.S. can take the SSAT up to eight times per testing year (defined as August 1 through July 31)—up to five SSAT at Home administrations, two SSAT administrations at Prometric test centers, and one SSAT Flex test.

Note that even though we recommend that students take the SSAT multiple times, very few students are ready to take the test in the spring and summer before submitting applications. Thus, most students take as many tests as possible during the fall and winter in advance of their application deadlines. Refer to our recommended timeline for more information to help you plan your preparation and testing schedule.

How much does it cost to take the SSAT?

Here are the costs to take the SSAT in the 2020–2021 testing year:

  • Middle and Upper Level U.S. administration: $149
  • Middle and Upper Level international administration: $287
  • Elementary Level U.S. administration: $90
  • Elementary Level international administration: $203

How do I register for the SSAT test?

You can register for the SSAT online using your SSAT account. You can take the SSAT up to eight times per 12-month period from August through July (up to five SSAT at Home administrations, two SSAT administrations at Prometric test centers, and one SSAT Flex test). We recommend that students begin preparation in the spring and summer before their test and take as many official tests as possible during the fall and winter that they submit applications (see our high school admissions timeline for more information).

What is an SSAT Flex test?

An SSAT Flex test is an official paper-and-pencil SSAT administration offered by member schools or approved educational consultants. You can take one Flex Test each 12-month period from August 1 through July 31. Due to COVID-19, Flex Tests are currently the only opportunity to take a paper-based SSAT in the U.S.

Who should take the SSAT?

Not everyone needs to take the SSAT. If you are applying to an independent or private school, you should check the admissions requirements to see if you are required to take the SSAT, the ISEE, or another specialized admissions test.

If you do need to take the SSAT for admission, make sure to register for the correct level:

  • Elementary Level SSAT: for students applying to grades 4 and 5
  • Middle Level SSAT: for students applying to grades 6–8
  • Upper Level SSAT: for students applying to grades 9–12

How can I score my best on the SSAT?

We have found that one-on-one tutoring is the best way to prepare for the SSAT. An experienced tutor will be able to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses and tailor a preparation plan that will help you achieve your best score on test day.

When preparing for the test, make sure to study the underlying concepts on all of the sections of the test (not just the sections that you like best) and then practice taking timed, full-length practice tests. Taking practice tests is a key element to any preparation plan because you will practice completing questions at pace, become familiar with the logistics of the official test, and gain the stamina needed to complete a full test.

When should I start preparing for the SSAT?

You should start preparing for the SSAT in the spring or summer before you plan to take the official test so that you are prepared to take the test in the fall and winter of your application year. We recommend that students prepare for the SSAT for at least four months. Check out our admissions timeline for more information.

How do I study for the verbal section of the SSAT?

The key to studying for the verbal section of the SSAT is careful, long-term practice. One-on-one tutoring offers the most efficient way to study for the SSAT verbal section because an excellent tutor can tailor a preparation program to your specific strengths and weaknesses. However, any practice, whether with a tutor, in a classroom, by yourself, or online, can help you prepare for the SSAT verbal section.

The verbal section of the SSAT contains two question types: synonyms and analogies. Both of these questions directly test your vocabulary. The best way to increase your vocabulary score for this exam is to improve your vocabulary. Prepare a vocabulary list by reading a lot of different kinds of books at or slightly above your grade level, looking up every word you don’t know and adding the words to your list. Then make flashcards from the words on the list, and study the flashcards every day. Take practice test sections. With each practice section, use a dictionary to look up any words that are unfamiliar to you, and add those words to your lists. Be sure to make vocabulary flashcards for any words you don’t know. Keep studying, and your vocabulary will increase—along with your verbal score.

How can I improve my SSAT reading comprehension?

The key to preparing for the reading comprehension section of the SSAT is careful, long-term practice. One-on-one tutoring yields the best results because an experienced tutor can tailor a preparation program to your specific strengths and weaknesses. However, any practice, whether with a tutor, in a classroom, online, or by yourself, can help you prepare for the SSAT.

The reading comprehension section contains approximately eight passages with around five multiple-choice questions per passage, for a total of 40 questions. The most common questions test whether you understood the main idea of and key information presented in the passage. Other question types ask you to make correct inferences, test your understanding of vocabulary, and see if you understood the purpose or tone of the passage. The best way to study is to take practice sections with the timings of the official test. Once you have completed a practice section, review the questions that you missed and the questions on which you had to guess. The more you practice, the more confident you will become and the better you will perform.

Should I guess or skip questions on the SSAT?

If you can eliminate even one possible answer choice, you should guess on the remaining choices. Over the course of the entire test, the benefit of guessing the correct answer will outweigh the risk of incurring the 0.25-point penalty for a wrong answer. If you feel you truly cannot make an educated guess by eliminating some incorrect answer choices, you should skip the question because guessing will not help you achieve a higher score.

Do SSAT scores matter?

If you are applying to certain independent schools, SSAT scores do matter. Note that the SSAT is not required for admission to all private and independent schools, and some schools may require different standardized tests for admission, such as the ISEE. Be sure to check with each school to which you plan to apply to determine if you need to take the SSAT or another test.

Also keep in mind that schools evaluate applications holistically. Standardized test scores are just one component of your application. You may also submit school transcripts, teacher recommendations, student essays, personal interviews, parent statements, and other criteria. Every school considers each of these components differently in its application process.

If you feel you need to improve your SSAT score, do not worry! The content tested on the SSAT may initially seem challenging, but it is also learnable. With careful study of the concepts tested and regular practice applying them, all students can improve their scores. We have found that studying for the SSAT through one-on-one tutoring yields the best results because an excellent tutor can provide you with an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses.

What is the highest score on the SSAT?

When you take the SSAT, you will receive three different scaled section scores: quantitative, verbal, and reading. Each level of the SSAT is scaled differently:

  • Upper Level: each section is scored on a scale of 500 to 800, with a total scaled score ranging from 1500 to 2400.
  • Middle Level: each section is scored on a scale of 440 to 710, with a total scaled score ranging from 1320 to 2130. 
  • Elementary Level: each section is scored on a scale of 300 to 600, with a total scaled score ranging from 900 to 1800.

What is a good score on the SSAT?

What determines a good score on the SSAT depends on your goals. Different schools place different emphases on test scores, school transcripts, teacher recommendations, student essays, personal interviews, parent statements, and other criteria. Thus, each school will evaluate candidates differently.

Even more than other standardized tests, what determines a good SSAT score depends on your performance relative to other students at your grade level. Each level of the SSAT is given to students entering different grade levels. When you take the SSAT, you will get percentiles for your grade level and gender (some single-gender schools find gender-specific scoring most relevant for admissions decisions). The EMA does not release overall SSAT percentile charts for all test takers.

What do scaled scores mean on the SSAT?

Scaled scores are determined by your raw score (i.e., the number of questions you got correct and incorrect). They allow you to compare your scores across the different sections on the tests. Raw scores are scaled so that a certain scaled score one year remains at approximately the same percentile as that same scaled score from other years.

When you take the SSAT, you will receive three different scaled sections scores: quantitative, verbal, and reading. Each level of the SSAT is scaled differently:

  • Upper Level: each section is scored on a scale of 500 to 800, with a total scaled score ranging from 1500 to 2400.
  • Middle Level: each section is scored on a scale of 440 to 710, with a total scaled score ranging from 1320 to 2130.
  • Elementary Level: each section is scored on a scale of 300 to 600, with a total scaled score ranging from 900 to 1800.

Do SSAT scores predict SAT scores?

SSAT scores do not explicitly predict SAT scores. However, many of the skills needed to achieve a high score on the SSAT will also serve as a foundation to achieve a higher score on the SAT, so the work you put in to preparing for the SSAT will help you on the SAT. Both tests contain multiple-choice math and reading questions. Studying for the SSAT for independent schools may give you a head start on SAT preparation later in high school.

How long does it take to get the SSAT scores back?

Scores from computer-based tests (SSAT at Home or SSAT administrations at Prometric test centers) are released to families about four business days after the test. Paper-based SSAT Flex test scores are released about two weeks following the test. You can access your scores online on the official SSAT website.

How do I send my SSAT scores to schools?

SSAT scores can be sent through a parent’s online account (students can view but not send scores). Scores from each individual test administration must be sent separately to each school. This offers flexibility in score reporting (i.e., you can send only the scores you wish to share with schools). Score reports do not indicate how many times a student took the SSAT.

What is the SSAT at Home?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EMA (Enrollment Management Association, the organization that develops and administers the SSAT) has introduced the SSAT at Home, a permanent at-home remotely proctored testing solution for the Middle and Upper Level SSAT. The SSAT at Home has the same format and timing as the original paper tests. Students can take the SSAT at Home up to five times per testing year (August 1–July 31).

Advantage Testing GMAT Q&As

Jump to an GMAT Question

What is the GMAT?

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a standardized entrance exam used for admission to graduate business schools conferring the degree of an MBA (a few law schools now also accept the GMAT in lieu of the LSAT). You can take the GMAT on computers at test centers as well as the GMAT Online remotely proctored at home. The GMAT consists of the following sections:

  • Quantitative Reasoning: 31 questions, including both problem solving and data sufficiency questions on topics drawn primarily from arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
  • Verbal Reasoning: 36 questions, including passage-based reading comprehension questions, sentence correction questions testing grammar, usage, and syntax, and critical reasoning questions testing the evaluation of arguments.
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR): 12 questions, including multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and table analysis.
  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): One essay response—an Analysis of an Argument. Until at least April 20, 2021, the GMAT Online does not include this section.

The GMAT is scored as follows:

  • Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning: The results from the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections combine to form one Total score on a scale of 200 to 800.
  • Integrated Reasoning: The IR section is scored on a scale of 1 to 8 in one-point increments.
  • Analytical Writing Assessment: The AWA section is scored on a scale of 1 to 6 in half-point increments. Each essay is given two scores (one of which may be from a computerized scoring system), and the two scores are averaged for the final score. Until at least April 20, 2021, the GMAT Online does not include this score.

You can select in what order the sections will appear on official in-person GMAT administrations from one of three options:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
  • Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

Until at least April 20, 2021, the order of the GMAT Online is fixed: Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning. Starting sometime after April 20, students taking the GMAT Online will have the same section order options that they have on the in-person GMAT.

What is the GMAT Online?

To accommodate students’ testing needs during and after the pandemic, GMAC is offering the remotely proctored GMAT Online as a permanent testing option. While the GMAT Online is generally similar to the traditional in-person GMAT, there are some minor differences between these tests.

  • You can take the GMAT Online up to two times.
  • GMAT Online scores cannot be canceled. You will receive your GMAT Online scores within seven business days of your exam and can then decide to send one or both scores to schools. Score reports incur no additional fees. Starting sometime after April 20, 2021, you will be able to view your unofficial score immediately after your test, but you still cannot cancel your scores.
  • On the GMAT Online, you can use a physical whiteboard, an online whiteboard, or both; practice with the online whiteboard here.
  • Until at least April 20, 2021, the GMAT Online section order is fixed as Quantitative Reasoning (31 questions), Verbal Reasoning (36 questions), and then Integrated Reasoning (12 questions). There is no Analytical Writing Assessment. Sometime after April 20, the GMAT Online will have the same section order options as the in-person test, and it will include the Analytical Writing Assessment.
  • The Enhanced Score Report cannot be ordered for the GMAT Online.

Where possible, standard GMAT testing has resumed at Pearson-VUE test centers.

What math is on the GMAT?

The GMAT Quantitative Reasoning and Integrated Reasoning sections both include math questions. The Quantitative Reasoning section consists of 31 questions (problem solving and data sufficiency), encompassing topics drawn primarily from arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. The Integrated Reasoning section consists of 12 questions, encompassing multi-source reasoning, interpretation of graphics, two-part analysis, and table analysis. 

Many students find the math tested on the GMAT to be challenging, but it is also learnable. With rigorous study of the concepts and practice applying them, all students can improve their GMAT math skills. In our experience, studying for the GMAT through one-on-one tutoring yields the best results because an experienced tutor can provide you with an individualized program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses and help you achieve your top score.

Is the GMAT only for those applying to business school?

The GMAT is mostly used by those planning to apply to MBA programs and other business-related advanced degree programs. The GRE is accepted in lieu of the GMAT by most MBA programs, although the GMAT is still more commonly used for MBA admissions. Many Executive MBA programs accept the Executive Assessment in lieu of the GMAT. 

Some students may be interested in taking the GMAT instead of the LSAT to apply to law schools, as the GMAT is accepted by a few law schools.

Do business schools prefer the GMAT over the GRE?

Most business schools accept both the GMAT and the GRE, with no stated preference for either test; however, the GMAT is more commonly used by students applying to business school. 

The GMAT and GRE have many similarities: both tests include Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing sections (but until at least April 20, 2021, the GMAT Online does not have the Analytical Writing Assessment). Note that some of the question types and content are unique to each test. For example, the GMAT tests grammar, while the GRE tests vocabulary. Likewise, the GMAT Quantitative Section includes data sufficiency questions, while the GRE Quantitative Section includes quantitative comparison questions.

If you are deciding between preparing for the GMAT or GRE, we recommend that you take a timed full-length practice GMAT and a timed full-length practice GRE. Compare your scores and your overall comfort level with each test. Then prepare for and take the test on which you feel that you will eventually perform best.

Is a calculator allowed on the GMAT?

No, calculators are not allowed on the GMAT. But don’t worry—GMAT questions are written in ways that do not require lengthy computation. Make sure to practice without using a calculator so that you get used to solving problems without one.

How can I register for the GMAT?

You can register for the GMAT on the official website. You can take the GMAT only once within any 16-day period, no more than five times within any 12-month period, and no more than eight times in a lifetime.

You can take the GMAT Online up to two times, and each GMAT Online does count toward the annual and lifetime limits. You can schedule a GMAT Online within 16 days of an in-person GMAT.

How much does the GMAT exam cost?

In the U.S., the in-person GMAT costs $275 per administration, and the GMAT Online costs $250 per administration. Other potential fees include:

  • Rescheduling more than 60 days before test: $50
  • Rescheduling 15–60 days before test: $100
  • Rescheduling fewer than 15 days before test: $150
  • Enhanced Score Report: $30 (not available for the GMAT Online)
  • Additional Score Report: $35 each (no fee for the GMAT Online)
  • Score Cancellation (after leaving test site): $25 (not available for the GMAT Online)
  • Score Reinstatement: $50 (not available for the GMAT Online)

You can read more about GMAT fees here.

Can you cancel your GMAT test for a refund?

You can cancel your GMAT or GMAT Online for a partial refund if you cancel in advance of your test administration:

  • More than 60 days before test: $100 refunded
  • 15–60 days before test: $75 refunded
  • Fewer than 15 days before test: $50 refunded
  • Your test cannot be canceled within 24 hours of your test administration.

Following each official in-person GMAT administration, you will have two minutes to preview your unofficial scores (Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores) and decide whether to accept or cancel them. You can cancel your scores at this point without a fee, but you will not receive a refund. You can also cancel your scores online within 72 hours of completing an official GMAT for a $25 fee. GMAT Online scores, however, cannot be canceled following the test.

You can read more about GMAT refunds and fees here.

How long should I study for the GMAT?

Because it takes time to learn all of the underlying math, reading, logic, grammar, and writing concepts and to practice applying them on timed practice tests, we recommend that students prepare for the GMAT with study sessions, tutoring, and timed practice testing multiple times per week for several months. 

When you plan your preparation schedule, also keep in mind that you may want to retake the GMAT. We recommend that most students begin preparing for the GMAT up to a year in advance of their application deadlines. This approach gives students ample time to prepare for the test and retake it if necessary, while allowing for sufficient time to finish the other components of business school applications.

How can I prepare for the GMAT in 30 days?

Studying for the GMAT typically takes more than 30 days. Preparing for the GMAT requires significant time and a serious commitment. With more than 30 years of experience, Advantage Testing has determined that it takes most students several months of rigorous preparation to substantially improve their GMAT scores.

If you are preparing for the GMAT in a condensed time frame, focus on taking full-length practice tests and official problem sets. Use as many of the official practice materials as you can. Be sure to carefully review each test and problem set, paying close attention to every question that you answered incorrectly and every question on which you had to guess.

Should you skip questions on the GMAT?

No, you should not skip any questions on the GMAT. Both the Quantitative and Verbal sections are computer-adaptive—the computer will present questions of varying difficulty depending on your prior responses. Therefore, you cannot skip difficult questions. In addition, note that questions cannot be returned to after they are answered. 

There is a severe penalty for not finishing the test, so be sure to answer every question in a timely fashion. You should always keep track of time remaining so that if you have unanswered questions remaining when your time is almost up, you can complete the section with random guessing in the last minute or so.

Is it bad to take the GMAT multiple times?

While it is not bad to take the GMAT several times, you should note that a small minority of schools will ask you how many times you took it, and an even smaller minority will ask you how you did on each test. Nonetheless, we advise our students to expect to retake the GMAT at least once. You can take the in-person GMAT only once within any 16-day period, no more than five times within any 12-month period, and no more than eight times in a lifetime. You can take the GMAT Online twice and it does contribute toward the annual and lifetime limits. Canceled test scores do count toward these limits.

You should wait to take the GMAT for the first time until you feel confident and have taken multiple full-length practice tests. You should retake the GMAT if you feel that you can score significantly higher with additional preparation. Most students need to prepare for the GMAT with study sessions, tutoring, and timed practice testing multiple times each week for several months before taking their first official test.

Does the GMAT penalize incorrect answers?

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test. While there are no wrong-answer penalties per se, the computer will present different questions depending on your prior responses. An accurate response to a question will generally, but not necessarily, result in a more difficult question. For example, in the Quantitative Reasoning section, because several topics are being tested, a correct answer on an arithmetic question might lead to a more difficult arithmetic question or a relatively easier geometry question.

Questions cannot be skipped or returned to after they are answered. There is a severe penalty for not finishing the test, so be sure to answer every question in a timely fashion and to always keep track of time remaining so that you can complete the section in the last minute if you have not already done so.

Is a 730 GMAT score good?

A 730 is a good GMAT score for most business school applicants. For students taking the GMAT between January 2015 and December 2018, a score of 730 was at the 96th percentile. However, a 730 is around the average score for many leading business schools (e.g., the mean GMAT score of UChicago Booth’s Class of 2021 was 730).

When setting goals, you should take into account the mean and 75th percentile scores at the schools to which you are planning to apply, your practice test scores, and the other strengths of your business school application. For example, if your score is above the 75th percentile of students admitted to your top-choice business school, you can feel confident that you have a “good” score. To determine what GMAT score you will need to present a strong application, you can look up the relevant score statistics on the websites of the schools to which you are applying or on national ranking sites.

How can you get a 700 on the GMAT?

While you can study for the GMAT on your own or in a class, our experience indicates that one-on-one tutoring provides the most effective preparation for achieving a high score on the GMAT. An excellent tutor will be able to determine and address your individual strengths and weaknesses and tailor a preparation plan that will enable you to achieve your best score.

However you choose to prepare for the GMAT, be sure to study the underlying concepts on all of the sections of the test and then practice taking as many timed, full-length practice tests as possible. Taking practice tests is a key element to any preparation plan because you will gain experience and confidence completing questions under timed conditions, become familiar with the logistics of the official test, and develop the stamina needed to complete a full test to the best of your abilities.

Is the GMAT required for applying to Harvard Business School?

Harvard Business School requires that you submit either a GMAT or GRE score when you apply. For the HBS Class of 2021, 80% of the class submitted GMAT scores, while 20% of the class submitted GRE scores. The median GMAT score was 730 (42 Verbal, 48 Quantitative). The median Verbal and Quantitative GRE scores were both 163.

What GMAT score do I need for Harvard Business School?

There is no single GMAT score that will guarantee or preclude admission to Harvard Business School. While the GMAT factors heavily in admissions decisions, HBS evaluates your entire application and will consider your standardized test scores, undergraduate curriculum's rigor, undergraduate GPA, application essays, letters of recommendation, interview, and work experience. Students admitted to HBS score very high on the GMAT. The median GMAT score of students enrolled in the HBS class of 2021 was 730 (96th percentile overall). 

Note that you can take the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT for admission to HBS. 20% of the class of 2021 used the GRE to apply to HBS, with mean Verbal and Quantitative scores of 163.

Does anyone get an 800 on the GMAT?

While you should always strive to perform to the best of your ability on the GMAT, keep in mind that perfect scores are rare. Very few people score a perfect 800 on the GMAT. For students taking the GMAT between January 2015 and December 2018, scores of 760 and above were at the 99th percentile. Scores of 800 represent a tiny fraction of the top percentile of GMAT scores.

Is a 640 a good enough GMAT score to be admitted to an MBA program?

A 640 may be a good GMAT score for some business school applicants. For students taking the GMAT between January 2015 and December 2018, a score of 640 was at the 68th percentile. A 640 is below the average score for many leading business schools (e.g., the mean GMAT score of the MIT Sloan class of 2021 was 727).

Keep in mind that GMAT scores should not be considered “good” or “bad” in themselves, but only relative to your goals. When setting goals, you should take into account the mean and 75th percentile scores at the schools to which you hope to apply, your practice test scores, and the other strengths of your business school application. For example, if your score is above the 75th percentile of students admitted to your top-choice business school, you can feel confident that you have a “good” score.

Is the unofficial GMAT score accurate?

While it is technically possible for your official GMAT score to differ from the unofficial scores (Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores) you earn at the test site, such discrepancies rarely occur. Your unofficial score is typically accurate. The main thing that will change when you receive your official score is that you will also receive your Analytical Writing Assessment score.

How long do you have to cancel your GMAT scores?

Following each official in-person GMAT administration, you will have two minutes to preview your unofficial scores (Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores) and decide whether to accept or cancel them. If two minutes pass before you make a selection, your score will be canceled. Due to these time constraints, we recommend that you have a target score in mind before you take an official in-person test.

If you decide to accept your scores at the test site, you can cancel them online within 72 hours for a $25 fee. For a fee, canceled scores from the prior four years and 11 months can be reinstated. If you have fast-approaching application deadlines, keep in mind that it can take up to 20 days for a score reinstatement to be processed.

Note that canceled test administrations will not be indicated in any way on score reports sent to schools. However, the online Score Report visible only to you indicates canceled tests with a “C” in place of the score. Canceled test sittings are counted toward the testing limits, including the lifetime limit of eight tests.

GMAT Online scores cannot be canceled.

Should you cancel your GMAT score?

If you experienced unusual difficulty with your in-person test and your score is significantly below your typical practice test score or your target score, you should certainly consider canceling your GMAT score (but GMAT Online scores cannot be canceled). The in-person GMAT does not provide a score choice option; cancellation is the only opportunity to exclude a score from your official score report (though many business schools indicate they will consider only the highest score). Keep in mind that it is normal for your official test score to be slightly lower than your practice test scores. 

How long does it take to get your GMAT scores?

You will be able to preview your unofficial multiple-choice scores (Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores) at the test site immediately after finishing your GMAT. Your official scores will become available within 20 calendar days of your GMAT administration. Your official scores will also include your Analytical Writing score.

Until at least April 20, 2021, GMAT Online scores will be available for you to view and send to schools about a week after taking the test. Starting sometime after April 20, you will be able to view your unofficial GMAT Online score immediately following your exam.

Advantage Testing ISEE Q&As

Jump to an ISEE Question

What is the ISEE?

The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) is a standardized test used by some independent high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools in the admissions process. Such schools typically evaluate ISEE scores along with school transcripts, teacher recommendations, student essays, personal interviews, parent statements, and other criteria.

The ISEE is split into different levels, based on grade level at entry:

  • Lower Level ISEE: for students applying to grades 5–6
  • Middle Level ISEE: for students applying to grades 7–8
  • Upper Level ISEE: for students applying to grades 9–12

What is the ISEE Online At Home Test?

To provide additional testing options during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, ERB has added a remotely proctored at-home ISEE option for students entering grades 5–12 and testing in the U.S or Canada. Registration for the ISEE Online at Home is available by selecting an "ERB At Home" administration.

The at-home test is the same length as the standard test and must be taken on a desktop or laptop computer (Windows or Mac). Students must take the test alone. A parent/guardian may be in the room to assist with the initial setup, but they must leave before the test begins.

ISEE tests are also being administered at Prometric Test Centers and at scheduled paper test centers in locations where in-person tests can be safely administered.

What is the difference between the SSAT and ISEE?

Both the SSAT and ISEE are standardized tests used in independent school admissions, and they test similar concepts. Before deciding whether to take the ISEE or SSAT, check the specific admissions requirements of the schools to which you are considering applying. Some independent schools accept either test, but many schools require one or the other to apply (and some require other tests).

We have found that students generally benefit from simultaneously studying for both the ISEE and SSAT when possible. Though the two tests have slightly different question types, they are very similar in content and purpose. If the schools to which you are applying accept both tests, preparing for both tests will give you additional opportunities to take official exams and added flexibility in how you report your scores.

How long is the ISEE test?

With standard timing, the Middle and Upper Level ISEEs consist of the following sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: 40 questions to be completed in 20 minutes
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 37 questions to be completed in 35 minutes
  • Reading Comprehension: 36 questions to be completed in 35 minutes
  • Mathematics Achievement: 47 questions to be completed in 40 minutes
  • Essay: 1 prompt to be completed in 30 minutes
  • Total time: 160 minutes

 With standard timing, the Lower Level ISEE consists of the following sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: 34 questions to be completed in 20 minutes
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 38 questions to be completed in 35 minutes
  • Reading Comprehension: 25 questions to be completed in 25 minutes
  • Mathematics Achievement: 30 questions to be completed in 30 minutes
  • Essay: 1 prompt to be completed in 30 minutes
  • Total time: 140 minutes

How much does it cost to take the ISEE?

The cost of the ISEE depends on where and how you take the test and how and when you register for it. Here are some of the costs to take the ISEE:

Large group testing at a school

  • Online registration: $140
  • Phone registration: $170
  • Late registration: $170 online, $200 by phone

Small group testing at a testing office

  • Online registration: $200
  • Phone registration: $230
  • Individual testing: $225

Computer testing at Prometric testing centers or at home: $200

You can find more information about ISEE registration fees here.

Can you take the ISEE online?

Yes, you can take the ISEE online at home (remotely proctored) and on computers at Prometric test centers. Depending on your location, you may also be able to sign up for computer testing at a school or testing office. You can find more information about ISEE registration here.

How many times can you take the ISEE?

You can take the ISEE up to three times each year, once per testing season: Fall (August–November), Winter (December–March), and Spring/Summer (April–July). We encourage students to take the ISEE as many times as they can. Few students are prepared to take the test in the spring before they submit applications, so most students take the ISEE in the Fall and Winter testing seasons in advance of or immediately after the application deadlines. See our admissions timeline for more information.

Is there an essay on the ISEE?

Yes, there is an unscored essay on the ISEE. The last section of the ISEE is an essay that you are given 30 minutes to complete (with standard timing). Your essay will be sent to the schools to which you apply to provide evidence of your writing skills in a timed setting.

What subject areas are on the ISEE?

The ISEE consists of the following sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Mathematics Achievement
  • Essay

The Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Achievement sections test the types of math you are expected to have covered in school up until the grade level of the test (e.g., the Upper Level ISEE tests more advanced math concepts than does the Lower Level ISEE).

The Verbal Reasoning section of the ISEE contains two question types: synonyms and sentence completions. Both of these question types test your vocabulary and the sentence completions also test your reading in context. The Reading Comprehension section contains passages covering topics in the arts, literature, contemporary life, history, and science.

How many students take the ISEE each year?

Only a select group of students applying to independent schools takes the ISEE. While there is no publicly available information regarding precisely how many students take the ISEE each year, compared with other national standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT, relatively few students take the ISEE.

How do I prepare for the ISEE?

Through more than 30 years of experience, we have found that one-on-one tutoring is the best way to prepare for the ISEE. An excellent tutor will be able to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses and tailor a preparation plan that will help you achieve your best score on test day.

When preparing for the test, make sure to study the underlying concepts on all of the sections of the test (not just the sections that you like best) and then practice taking timed, full-length practice tests. Taking practice tests is a key element to any preparation plan because you will learn to complete questions at pace, become familiar with the format of the official test, and develop the stamina needed to finish a full test.

We recommend that students start preparing for the ISEE in the spring or summer before the academic year in which they plan to take the official test, giving themselves at least four months to study for the exam. Because the test is targeted to each grade level, we do not advise students to take the official test well before applying to schools. Refer to our high school admissions timeline for more information.

Is the ISEE test difficult?

The content tested on the ISEE is certainly challenging for the grade level, but it is also learnable. Many students feel that the ISEE is difficult when they begin preparing for it, particularly if they are at the lowest grade level of the students taking a particular test (e.g., students taking the Lower Level ISEE who are applying to grade five generally find the test more challenging than do those students who are applying to grade six). However, with careful study of the concepts and practice applying them, all students can increase their confidence and improve their scores.

We have found that studying for the ISEE through one-on-one tutoring yields the best results because an excellent tutor can help you identify the areas of the test on which you should focus and provide you with a strategy for achieving your best score.

Is the ISEE harder than the SAT?

No, the ISEE is not harder than the SAT. The two tests are used for admission to different types of schools. The SAT is used in college and university admissions (as well as for applying to certain summer programs). The ISEE is used in independent elementary, middle, and high school admissions. Accordingly, the SAT assumes that students have completed most of a high school curriculum, whereas the ISEE does not.

Note, however, that because you will take an ISEE targeted to your grade level, you may find the ISEE as challenging or more challenging than you will find the SAT when you start preparing for the latter test. Additionally, your percentile scores on the ISEE may be lower than you would expect, based on your other test scores. Students who take the ISEE are applying to independent schools with selective admissions, so the average standardized testing scores of these students are higher than national norms.

Should I guess on the ISEE?

Yes, you should guess when you do not know the answer to a question on the ISEE. Beyond not earning points for incorrect answers, the ISEE does not penalize incorrect answers; scores are determined only by how many questions you have answered correctly. Of course, to make an educated guess on a question you don’t know the answer to, first try to eliminate one or more answer choices you know to be incorrect and then guess from among the remaining choices.

Are you allowed to use a calculator on the ISEE?

No, you are not allowed to use a calculator on the ISEE—but that’s okay! The math questions on the ISEE are written in a way that does not require the use of a calculator for lengthy calculations. The math problems you are expected to solve are manageable enough that most students can complete the quantitative sections within the time limits without a calculator.

How is the ISEE test scored?

Each of the four multiple-choice ISEE sections is scored separately on a scale from 760 to 940, based on the number of questions you answered correctly. Your percentile scores are determined by the relative performance of other students in your grade. Based on the 2017–2018 ISEE norms, the 25th–75th percentile score ranges are as follows:

Upper Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 9: 867–892 Verbal, 866–894 Quantitative, 873–902 Reading, 868–898 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 10: 867–896 Verbal, 869–900 Quantitative, 873–904 Reading, 873–905 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 11: 869–897 Verbal, 869–899 Quantitative, 874–905 Reading, 873–905 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 12: 869–898 Verbal, 866–900 Quantitative, 875–906 Reading, 871–903 Mathematics Achievement

Middle Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 7: 846–878 Verbal, 855–886 Quantitative, 843–882 Reading, 859–886 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 8: 850–883 Verbal, 859–892 Quantitative, 848–886 Reading, 864–894 Mathematics Achievement

Lower Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 5: 827–858 Verbal, 829–861 Quantitative, 815–855 Reading, 834–865 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 6: 840–867 Verbal, 843–874 Quantitative, 827–868 Reading, 849–876 Mathematics Achievement

What is considered a good score on the ISEE?

What determines a good score on the ISEE depends largely on your goals. Different schools place different emphases on test scores, school transcripts, teacher recommendations, student essays, personal interviews, parent statements, and other criteria.

Each of the four multiple-choice ISEE sections is scored separately on a scale from 760 to 940, based on the number of questions you answered correctly. Your percentile scores are determined by other students applying to the same grade to which you are applying. For reference, the 75th percentile scores from 2017–2018 (the most recent year available) are:

Upper Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 9: 892 Verbal, 894 Quantitative, 902 Reading, 898 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 10: 896 Verbal, 900 Quantitative, 904 Reading, 905 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 11: 897 Verbal, 899 Quantitative, 905 Reading, 905 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 12: 898 Verbal, 900 Quantitative, 906 Reading, 903 Mathematics Achievement

Middle Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 7: 878 Verbal, 886 Quantitative, 882 Reading, 886 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 8: 883 Verbal, 892 Quantitative, 886 Reading, 894 Mathematics Achievement

Lower Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 5: 858 Verbal, 861 Quantitative, 855 Reading, 865 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 6: 867 Verbal, 874 Quantitative, 868 Reading, 876 Mathematics Achievement

What is a bad ISEE score?

There is no particular ISEE score that would be considered “bad.” What determines a good score on the ISEE depends largely on your goals. Different schools have different requirements and place different emphases on test scores, school transcripts, teacher recommendations, student essays, personal interviews, parent statements, and other criteria.

Even more so than other standardized tests, what determines a good ISEE score also depends on your grade level. The ISEE is administered to students applying for many different grades. On the Middle Level ISEE, for example, the scores of students applying to the eighth grade are generally higher than the scores of students applying to the seventh grade.

When you take the ISEE, you will receive percentiles for your grade level. Each of the four multiple-choice ISEE sections is scored separately on a scale from 760 to 940, based on the number of questions answered correctly. The 50th percentile scores of students who took the ISEE in 2017–2018 are:

Upper Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 9: 881 Verbal, 882 Quantitative, 890 Reading, 882 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 10: 883 Verbal, 883 Quantitative, 890 Reading, 887 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 11: 884 Verbal, 883 Quantitative, 892 Reading, 887 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 12: 885 Verbal, 882 Quantitative, 892 Reading, 889 Mathematics Achievement

Middle Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 7: 863 Verbal, 870 Quantitative, 864 Reading, 872 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 8: 870 Verbal, 875 Quantitative, 871 Reading, 878 Mathematics Achievement

Lower Level ISEE

  • Students applying to grade 5: 841 Verbal, 845 Quantitative, 832 Reading, 850 Mathematics Achievement
  • Students applying to grade 6: 855 Verbal, 858 Quantitative, 849 Reading, 864 Mathematics Achievement

How long does it take to receive your ISEE scores?

For paper testing, your multiple-choice score reports are usually available 10 to 14 business days after you take the official test. For computer testing, your multiple-choice scores are usually available much faster—within three to five days after your test date.

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New York, NY

Advantage Testing has provided high quality tutoring and test preparation services since 1986. We created this website to answer the most common questions that our students ask us, and to provide information that might help inform your learning and preparation strategies.

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