Getting a perfect score on the SAT may sound like an impossible dream, but the fact is that there are quite a few students who achieve this every year. One of those students is Andrew Parker, a current high school senior who got his perfect score as a junior, although he was already pretty close to a perfect score way back in the eighth grade. For some insight into how he achieved the perfect 1600, we spoke with Andrew to find out his strategies.
College Confidential: How many times did you take the SAT, and which was the perfect score?
Andrew Parker: I took the SAT in eighth grade when I was part of a local program that offered it. That time, I got a 750 math and 800 English. Then I took both the SAT and ACT in 11th grade and got a 1600 on the SAT and got a 29 on the ACT. I was surprised it was such a big difference -- the 29 is equivalent to about a 1340 SAT, so that was kind of surprising. But I know that some people do better on one test than the other, and so I think the SAT was just the right test for me. I didn't take either of them again after that, but I did take some subject tests.
CC: Did you use any study strategies that helped you get the perfect score?
AP: Yes, I used the theory that if you have to guess on a question, you should always guess using the same letter over and over again. I have read different theories on whether this is a smart strategy, but I decided to try it. I didn't guess on a lot of questions, but I did guess on a few in both sections, and I used "C" for each guess. Maybe that helped, I'm not sure. Also, I don't know if this helped or not, but my parents think it did: I play a lot of chess. There are some concepts in chess that give your mind a workout in probability, statistics and problem-solving, as well as logical thinking. That may have helped. But as for test prep classes or books, I didn't do those. I was prepared to study if my scores didn't come out high, but after I got the perfect SAT score, I just decided not to retake because I have too much else going on.
CC: Did you have any particular routine the day before the test or on test day?
AP: I am not a morning person, and the tests always seem to be super early. So I prepared as much as possible the night before. I got the calculator and pencils together the night before, and I showered. Then, on the morning of the test, I only had to get up and go take it. I also ate a lot on the way to the tests while my mom drove me there, because if I get distracted by a growling stomach, that is a problem for me!
CC: Do you have any strategies you'd recommend to other students?
AP: Yes, using the process of elimination helps a lot when you aren't totally sure about an answer. On the math section, I could quickly rule out one or two possible answers, and then I would plug the other two into the formula to see which was right. On the Critical Reading, I would sort of work backwards, reading the answers first and then skimming the passages to find things that matched the topics mentioned in them. So working backwards helped on both sections for me. I also had my watch on the desk and kept checking it to make sure I was on track with the time. I am someone who can easily get pulled into spending too much time on a particular question. So if I noticed I was taking too long, I'd either mark it in the book to go back to later, or I would just fill in "C."
CC: What advice do you have for other students?
AP: Definitely take both tests! I know people who just refuse to take the SAT if they've already done well on the ACT and vice versa. I still can't believe my two test scores were so different, and there are people who don't try and don't know whether they could have improved by trying the other test.
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