Angel investor Kai Peter Chang says he cheated his way to a great SAT score – 1510.You can too, he says – “not on the SATs – cheat the way they are reported.”
In an answer to the Quora question “How does one prepare enough to get a perfect score on the SAT?” he explains:
Understanding the SATs, in the Context of College Admissions
Elite Colleges and Universities are in the difficult position of evaluating tens of thousands of hopeful new students to decide which [X] per cent of those applicants they will extending offers to. They must do it with limited information and limited manpower (admissions officers) within a very narrow window of time.
SATs are a standardized way to have a numerical representation of your “aptitude” so every applicant from a prep-school blue-blood rich kid from Choate Rosemary Hall to a rough-and-tumble dropout from the streets of Mumbai can be ranked on a single (seemingly) objective scale.
One of the things elite colleges desire is “smart” students, and since they cannot administer IQ tests on all applicants, the SATs become the imperfect proxy used to quantify that portion of an applicant’s profile.
What does a high (or perfect) SAT score reflect? It’s a composite function measuring the test-taker’s
1. Native raw intelligence (30%)
2. Reading comprehension ability/speed and general vocabulary (20%)
3. Error-correction skill (ability to spot one’s own mistakes and fix them before committing to a seemingly-right answer that is a bait/trap (20%)
4. Ability to game the SAT system itself (related to 3.) (30%)
(The percentages are my estimates as to what each ability/skill contribute to a high score. Each version of the SATs would have differently weighted percentage breakdowns, but the fundamentals remain the same.)
There is little you can do to change 1. so most tips revolve around some combination of improving your 2., 3., and 4. On that front, Rich Rodgers, Sam Coren, Jonathan Swirsky, J.C. Hewitt and Ryan Lackey offered excellent advice on just that thing. I would only add that a formal SAT tutoring course by folks at the Princeton Review can help a LOT with 3. and 4.
All that said …
Not all High SAT Scores are Equal
Several of the respondents have reported taking the SATs multiple times – and indeed, multiple attempts at the test is one of the most sure-fire way to hit a high or perfect score. Repetition of the drill, familiarity with the SAT’s protocol, reducing the anxiety through multiple exposure to an otherwise-stressful situation all help you perform at your personal best.
Imagine your personal composite “aptitude” which is a Function of the above-mentioned 1. 2. 3. and 4.
F (1., 2., 3., 4.) = SAT Score
Once you’ve maxed out your 2. 3. and 4., multiple attempts at the SATs will, over time, reveal a scatter diagram around your average composite 1. 2. 3. and 4.aptitude, with scores above, below and heavily clustered around your “true” ability.
Every college will tell you they only consider your highest SAT score to evaluate your application. This, like most things large organisations tell you, is a lie.
Why would they throw away all that useful data you so generously provided for them?
Indeed, if you made 20 attempts at the SATs and averaged, say, 1440 and peaked once at 1550, they will view that high score at the tail as the outlier that it is, and discount it accordingly. Far as they are concerned, you are a 1440 guy who got lucky once, not a 1550 guy.
How to Cheat the SATs
I understood at age 15 that a single, solitary high SAT score was far more impressive than multiple attempts at it.
At the time (this may have changed), the ETS tracked your SAT-taking history through your Social Security Number. With this in mind, every time I took the SATs between Sophomore and Junior year, I deliberately wrote my SSN off by one digit.
When I finally got the score I wanted (1510 in my case), I called up ETS and raised hell, telling them they screwed up my SSN and demanding that they correct it to my true SSN.
“Oh, we are so sorry Mr. Chang. We will fix that for you immediately. Please accept our apologies …”
Consequently, only one high score was attached to my true SSN, and it became the basis for my applications.
Thus, when I applied to colleges, I gave them only one data point that *I* knew to be an anomaly, but they were forced to accept the 1510 as representative of my true “aptitude” since they were denied any other data points.
ETS may have changed their policy since then, but if not, it works like a charm.
The rest is up to you …