Should I retake 1500 SAT?

Hey guys! I got a 1500 (730 EBRW, 770 Math) on the August SAT, which I’m very happy and extremely grateful for. However, I’m still unsure about retaking, since I was aiming for a 1530+

I’m a junior right now, and I plan on applying mostly to the UCs which I know don’t consider the SAT, but I’m also thinking of applying to some T20s, like USC, Duke, Northwestern, WashU, Georgia Tech, etc.

I’m not trying to sound pretentious or anything like that, but do you guys think I should take the SAT again or just leave my score? I don’t want to take an unnecessary risk by decreasing my score, but at the same time I do think with hard work I can definitely reach the 1530+ level, given the amount of time I have since I’m a junior.


Since you’re a junior I say yes but wait until next year when they switch it to digital. You got a fantastic score but the digital is a different format so you might do even better with it. If you don’t want to take it though don’t since your score is so good.


Yes because you have time on your side and as great as 1500 is and it is, it’s not competitive for schools you listed. NU shows 1500 at the 25th percentile. Duke 1510. And those are the only two I checked.

Good luck.

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If it were me, I would study starting now for the PSAT, which students usually take in October of their junior year. Why?

  1. Because the PSAT and SAT are fairly similar, so prepping for one can help the other.
  2. Based on your current SAT score, you are in striking range for NMSF status. This is an award you can list that even test-blind schools will see. Also some of your listed schools give National Merit scholarships. For example Northwestern gives $2,500 per year, and USC gives half tuition! Now, getting in isn’t guaranteed by any stretch, but if you do get in, it’s nice to have the money.

If you do prep for the PSAT, make sure to focus on the English/reading sections. Why?

  1. Because that is your relatively weaker section.
  2. The PSAT selection index (SI) formula weights English/reading double relative to math.

Best of luck!!


They should take it one more time in paper since at least one section is likely to go up and result in a higher super score. It’s unclear how schools will deal with different test formats.

They can still take the digital test if they feel like the score is not where it needs to be.


I’d give it another try, since you have the time. Most students improve their scores with a second attempt. I’d focus on whatever aspects of the EBRW were more challenging for you and do some practice sections - Khan academy has a good review package through the College Board (free).


I concur, prep like mad for the PSAT! If you make national merit, you can list it in awatds for your UC applications, which is the only way now that you can let the admit committee know you had a stellar standardized test score. Also, it opens up the door for massive merit money at certain schools.


You have a great desire to increase your score. Go ahead and take it. It doesn’t hurt anything.

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Of course, UC admission readers probably won’t care much or at all about an award purely based on a PSAT score.

Yes, that is the real reason to try for NMSF through the PSAT.


To me, the real reason is they have NU, Duke, and WUSTL on their list - and for those three specifically, 1500 isn’t competitive. It’s at the minimum - and if you go by what people say (the 25h percentile isn’t enough to use the score and it’s below it for Duke, they should be TO apps. They said other schools like it - so I looked up Rice and they are also 1500 at the 25th percent.

PSAT is nice - it’s a given to do well on it if you can - and the OP has USC on the list and it could bring merit - but the odds of NMSF aren’t great.

But if the OP is going to spend their time applying to top tier schools - that’s why the 1500 needs to be raised. It’s sad it’s the case as it’s super strong - but it is in fact the case.

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Agree with parentologist. Kids of several different friends here in the Bay Area did well on PSAT and were NM finalists…they all seemed to not only get into USC (offered good merit) but also got into UCLA among other UCs, and were offered Regents. Of course they were exceptional students despite the PSAT, but their good scores did not hurt, even for UC outcomes.

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I would submit a 1500 to all the schools you listed. A 1500 is a very good score and schools know that people aren’t submitting below 1500 anymore so the averages are going up, but they will still consider a 1500 a competitive score. However, I would also take it again and see if you can do better. My score went up 30 points between my 2 attempts without any further study. Sometimes it also depends on luck and what questions were asked, etc. I’m not familiar with the requirements at Georgia Tech or USC, but I know Duke, Northwestern, WashU, and lots of the other T20’s let you super score and also only submit your best score, so there’s really no disadvantage to taking it again (unless you are applying to MIT, Georgetown, or other schools that make you submit ALL scores.)


Thanks for all the responses everyone! After a lot of hard thought, I’ve decided to take to the SAT again in November or December, depending on testing center availability. Unfortunately, I cannot do the PSAT since the deadline for registration has passed. Just a quick question though. Is my score (1500) good enough for T50s, like Purdue, University of Washington, Wake Forest, UIUC, etc.? (I’m applying OOS for all of them)

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It is offered through your school. Ask your counselor tomorrow morning. Perhaps it is not too late.

Many high schools don’t offer the PSAT NMSQT, I fear this year it might be more than usual, as it’s the first year the test is digital only.

I do agree OP should ask their counselor if they can still register for the test. If not, OP could try and find another school that allows outside students to take it on Sat Oct 14 (the only Saturday the PSAT NMSQT will be administered), here: Test Ordering System | CollegeBoard


What school and/or major are you applying for (at the colleges that admit that way)? You have to look at the mid-50% range for last year’s class (admitted or enrolled, whatever you can find) and see where the 1500 falls.

Note that UWashington is test blind for the vast majority of applicants.


I agree. It is sometimes possible to sign up for the PSAT late because the school is the one offering it so they have some flexibility. So OP should talk to school counselor ASAP tomorrow! Most schools WANT their strong students to take the PSAT so they can brag about National Merit Scholars, so they will often make an exception. If your school won’t make an exception, perhaps a nearby school will make an exception and let you join them. Here is the College Board’s search tool to find a PSAT testing site at a nearby school: Test Ordering System | CollegeBoard

If despite best efforts the student isn’t successful in registering for the PSAT at their own school or a nearby school, then this student should look into the possibility of “Alternate Entry”. This is explained more in the guidebook, especially pages 5 and 34 I think :

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Yes. And Ga Tech you listed above.

But if you go CS then UIUC and test blind UW are very tough admits - UW takes 3% OOS. Obviously tech is a tough admit but the score is fine.

Why awake ? Lots of good CS schools not top 50 and top 50 doesn’t mean good in CS.

And CS is one of those fields - many give a test to be hired. My nephew studied polo sci at Arizona. Got hired in NYC at a major firm.

Short of the very top not sure how much the name matters.

Find the right fit. Not what US News says is right.