Many high school students have a dream of getting the SAT Perfect Score. On Quora, there’s a current thread of people that have actually earned a perfect score on the SAT. What is interesting is their perspective many years later. Perhaps this article will help you put things in perspective, from the vantage point of those that have received perfect SAT Scores.
Regardless of what you get on the SAT Test, preparing for the SAT is something you need to do. Find an SAT Tutor here if you need help.
An ACT Perfect Score Can Change Your Life
It can literally change your life.
Lots of people will point out how it’s just a test, not that important, etc. and that is true. But it is also true that for some people it can be the turning point in their life.
For example, I was a smart kid going to a tiny high school in Idaho with about 30 people in my graduating class. There were no AP classes and for fun the kids huffed Glade air fresheners (this was in the 90s.) Everyone dreamed about going to BSU or another state school. Nobody had any connections, everyone was working class, and there was limited chance of doing anything really big with our lives.
Then the test happens and all of a sudden doors opened everywhere for me, colleges came out of the woodwork to recruit me, I was offered a literal “free-ride” scholarship at multiple universities. For just about anyone in the US, that is a huge deal.
I went to one of the best universities in the country, then on to a top grad school, ended up getting a job with a top tier company that only recruits at the best universities, and used that as a springboard to start my career. The perfect SAT score was the turning point.
– Jason Britton
I Felt Relaxed and Pressure Relief
At the time, I had been feeling a lot of pressure since a lot of my family/friends expected me to get into the top univerisites. I worked hard in high school, but test prep was unbearably rote and boring, so I had barely studied for the SAT, and I really thought I would pay the price for that. Immediately after the test, I actually thought I had done somewhat poorly, especially in this one section where I guessed a ton (I can only assume that was the ungraded experimental section ). So in that context, seeing those numbers were a huge relief. It helped me relax a ton and allowed me to really start enjoying senior year.
Looking back on it, I think the most extraordinary part of the whole thing is how lucky/unlikely it was . I guessed, a lot. They were educated guesses, but there were a ton of questions where I wasn’t more than ~75% sure of the answer and could have gone either way between two of the choices. I still don’t really know the mechanics of scoring for each section (how many you can miss and still get an 800), but if you assume that I guessed on 25 questions, even with a 75% chance of getting each of those right, that’s a perfect test less than 8 times in 10,000. Of course, AFAIK, every college admissions process looks at scores in ranges anyway (i.e. 750-800), so the difference between an 800 and 780 is probably meaningless, although I’m sure the 3 round numbers briefly catch the admissions officer’s eye.
Perfect SAT Score is Awesome, but It’s Crap Too
It’s pretty awesome.
You bask in the glory, get showered with praise from your family and friends, and just generally feel like hot shit — really smart hot shit. The day after you get your scores, you strut around school, smirking to yourself as everyone else worries about their upcoming tests and thinking, “I’ve made it! Never will I have to grovel at the altar of test prep instructors like these silly peons around me. For I have a perfect score on the SAT.”
Then you remember that standardized tests are bullshit measures of intelligence that discriminate against cultural minorities and women, the ETS is an evil institution designed to support an industry that sucks money out of middle-class families and renders lower-class students unable to compete, and your achievement has made zero impact on anyone else’s life in the real world.
That feels less awesome.
– Christopher Lin
It Felt Good to Achieve a Goal of Perfect SAT Score
I think for me the best thing about getting a perfect score was working hard at a goal and then achieving it.
I decided to try to get a perfect score on the SATs after (without trying) I got a perfect score on the PSATs. I told my mother that I wanted to study really hard to get a perfect score on the SATs and she just kind of rolled her eyes and said, “You know, you really don’t need to do that. You’ll do fine.” And she was totally right. I don’t think getting a perfect score on the SATs is any kind of golden ticket — I didn’t get into every college I applied to, and there were scholarships I didn’t get. But I’d made up my mind.
We didn’t have the money for Princeton Review or anything fancy. I had two SAT books with practice tests — one that my older brother had used that was outdated. I think total, I had access to over 20 practice tests, and I took every single one of them. For every question I got wrong, I figured out what I did wrong and what the right answer would be. The math was pretty easy for me, but I wrote down all the words I didn’t know from the tests and made sure I knew what they meant.
In the end, I took the test twice. I got a 1580 (I think) the first time, and a 1600 the second time (and my Mom thought I was a bit crazy to retake it). It felt really great to achieve my goal.
– Nora Mullaney
SAT Scores Are Totally Forgettable
A couple decades later, it’s forgettable. If the test is a sign that you have the potential to do great things, then you probably knew that anyway. And if, looking back on it years later, your standardized test score is among the greatest things you did with that potential, that would be pretty depressing, no? Now think about all the smart, successful people who didn’t have a perfect score, and who were able to do quite well in life without it. Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.
– Noah Smith
Nobody Really Cares
You’ve just given your parents the greatest piece of gossip they can brag about for at least the next 5 years. As the child of Taiwanese first-generation parents, this was pure gold for them, and that was half of the happiness I got out of my perfect score.
The other half was pride in having fooled the system. I didn’t feel like the score meant validated my intelligence. I did feel smart about the fact that I’d managed to outsmart the standardized testing system, which in the late 90’s, was not as difficult as it seems to be today. It was almost like having a cool piece of trivia that you could bring up at parties.
And once you get to college, you realize that it’s actually not such a good idea to bring it up at parties, because it’s just a number that loses its meaning once you leave high school.
– Shirley Lai Schoenfeld
I Didn’t Feel Normal
For me, it was almost uniformly negative.
I went to a very academically competitive prep school — I’m betting about half my class scored above 1450 on the old scale. As each class was small, we knew each other really well and were all up in each other’s business. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, that once the SAT results came out, even though I hadn’t told anyone how I’d done, people started congratulating/teasing me almost immediately; I’d planned to pat myself on the back in private and only tell a few close friends, but somehow, everyone already knew.
After that, it became a thing that people would bat around, a constant monkey on my back. Every time I made a dumb mistake (often), or when I encountered a problem I couldn’t solve immediately (again, often), or even when I tried to talk to girls (not often, and very awkwardly), someone would bring up that damn score. It defined me in others’ eyes and made me an object of envy even to close friends. As if I didn’t have enough troubles “fitting in” in high school, here suddenly was something that made me different than everybody else, and that made people assume I thought I was “better” than they.
More than that, it jacked up the pressure, already stifling, to a suffocating level. Suddenly, instead of one decently smart, decently well-educated kid among many, I was a “genius,” someone in the spotlight, someone whom people rested their hopes on and expected to perform . . . and, when I screwed up, someone whom people would put down to make themselves feel better. I’m a pretty shy, dorky guy — I didn’t want any of it.
When I went to college, I managed to escape a lot of the hoopla. I made a new group of friends, worked through some of the “coolness” issues (as in “wanting to be” or “caring that I was not”), did poorly on some tests, and generally had a ball making college-level mistakes. I almost forgot about the whole thing. Then, when I was a senior, I started chatting with my best friend in college about high school and discovered that he’d also gotten a perfect score. We’d been tight for three years and it had never come up — for exactly the same reason. Neither one of us wanted it to be a thing again, or even to talk about what it was like.
Sometimes, I see my high school friends, and they’ll bring it up, and I’ll laugh along. But it still bothers me, just as it still bothers me when they jokingly refer to me as a “genius” or touch on the Great Expectations they had for me. And I can tell that they still take some satisfaction when they do better than I (and they do, often, because they’re just as bright and motivated as I). Who knows, maybe I’m projecting that last part onto them, but that’s the mindset you get into.
So in short, to this day I regret that morning when I was stuck for five hours with a pack of No. 2 pencils behind a kid who farted up a storm the entire time (true story). Within twenty minutes of getting the score, I wished I’d messed up a question or two just to make everything normal again.
A Perfect SAT Score Felt Good For a Day, Maybe
Felt good for about a day (or maybe a week). Doesn’t matter after whatsoever feeling wise. Didn’t really help me with college admissions either; I got rejected by the majority of colleges I applied to.
Standardized test scores are for the most part meaningless. A difference of 500 points is significant and correlates pretty well with how successful somebody is as a student. Between a 2200 and a 2400? Totally meaningless. That said, if you’re in high school, you should still try to get a high score because questions like these indicates society still values things like this for some odd reason.
– Michael Zhang
Best Moment in My Life, Then Life Really Happened
Finding out my SAT score was one of the best moments of my life thus far. I was in an internet cafe on vacation with my parents, and my dad literally ran out into the street and yelled “2400!” at the passing cars. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was still a pretty unbelievable feeling. It was extra cool because I was in the first year that took the three-part test, so 2400’s weren’t even a thing yet.
The afterglow lasted a couple of years. As a person who’s quite critical of myself, I always had that number to fall back on when questioning my self-worth. I enjoyed being able to finally not have to prove my intelligence to anyone (including myself). So I went to college and joined a sorority and drank my face off and I didn’t care whether people assumed I was dumb because those people were objectively wrong. It was actually really liberating and good for me (liver excluded) to be able to relax after being all worked up about doing well my whole life.
But at some point in your life you take your SAT scores off your resume and it becomes official that nobody cares. The older I get the more depressing it is that the “crowning achievement” in my life was literally answering algebra questions and writing a two-page essay. I don’t think about my score very often, but when I do I feel like Uncle Rico looking back on my glory days (“Back in ’05 I could have split this whole check by item in my head!”). It all seems kind of silly now- but it was pretty awesome at the time.
SAT Test is Like High School Football – Nobody Cares after High School!
Well, if you enjoy having endless praise thrown at you by people who don’t understand what intelligence is or what the SAT measures, then it is great. For those who get such scores, they assume that the world is their oyster, and that they can skate into Harvard or Stanford, and that their life is on a trajectory that will lead to prestige and riches.
Then life hits them smack in the face. 69% of kids with perfect SATs get rejected from Stanford. Harvard is equally unkind to those kids. Even for those who get in, they realize that the SAT means nothing to their professors or graduate school admissions committees. Some employers may care, but not the ones anyone would want to work for. Everyone with a perfect SAT score is going to stumble along the way.
In time, the SAT is like high school football. It is something that might come up every once in a while, and it’ll impress some people, but it doesn’t matter to most and has little impact on the major measures of happiness in one’s life.
– Antonio Buehler