What’s the Lowest Sat Score? Tips to Improve Yours in 2022

Think you got the lowest SAT score? Read this article to find out more about the lowest possible score on the SAT, plus tips on raising your score.

TCM Staff

6th October 2022

If you’re worried about not getting into any colleges because of your SAT scores, we listed some schools that accept low scores and a few tips to boost your retake results below.

It seems like every year, news comes out about colleges getting harder and harder to get into. Just look at Harvard — over the past three years, its acceptance rate has gone down from 4.9% to 3.4%, and then to a measly 3.2%. Other schools may also be raising the bar when it comes to their admissions standards, making it more challenging to earn a spot.

When you look for advice on increasing your chances of admission into your chosen schools, one of the most common tips is usually to do well on your standardized exams. Unfortunately, scoring high on your SATs or ACTs can sometimes be difficult the first time around.

If you’re looking to retake your exam and replace your lowest SAT score, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you get a good score. So let’s get right to it!

What is the SAT?

The SAT is one of the two standardized tests that colleges in the United States may require you to take for admission. Some colleges will require you to submit either your SAT or ACT scores along with your application.

SAT was originally an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test. It held this name from 1925 to 1994. However, the SAT underwent some changes in 1990. The redesigned version launched in 1994, changing its name to Scholastic Assessment Test. College Board, the non-profit organization behind the SAT, chose to change the word from aptitude to assessment in order to get rid of the perception that the SAT was able to accurately predict a student’s aptitude when it came to college education.

Today, the test measures a high school student’s literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, and writing skills. The SAT is a multiple-choice pencil and paper-based examination. It has two sections: math and EBRW, or evidence-based reading and writing. There used to be an optional essay section as well, but College Board recently discontinued the essay permanently. Your scores are reported separately for each section but combined, they are called your composite score.

You can take the SAT as many times as you want, and you can even take it as early as freshman year. Taking the exam early can help you identify your weaknesses sooner so that you can prepare as much as possible for taking the SAT again in your senior year. However, College Board recommends that you take your SATs first in your junior year, then again in your senior year.

The importance of SAT scores in college admission procedures varies from college to college. In recent years, some colleges have made the SAT entirely optional, while others have completely eliminated it from their admissions requirements.

Want to know more about this standardized test? Read more here: What is the SAT?

What is the Lowest SAT Score?

So you may be wondering, “what is the lowest score on the SAT?” Technically, the lowest SAT score possible is a big fat 0.

But is it really possible to get such a score?

Well, yes. But only if you turn in a blank exam.

So what’s the lowest SAT score, really? 

The ‘real’ lowest possible score on the SAT is 400 points. You get this result by earning the lowest possible score of 200 in both the math and reading and writing sections of the exam. But doing that is truly challenging because even if you guess every single answer on your test, you’ll likely still be right 25% of the time. And being correct 25% of the time can earn you a composite score of around 730.

So, don’t worry if you have low test scores because there are a few colleges and universities offering admission. And unless you’re deliberately trying to get a 400, you’re probably going to score much higher!

Related: How to Calculate SAT Score

How Do You Get the Lowest Score on the SAT?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is the lowest SAT score you can get?,” let’s talk about how you can get a score of 400.

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but getting a score of 400 is far more challenging than simply scoring higher. In fact, you would likely have an easier time earning a score of zero (by submitting a blank test with your name) than getting a 400 on your SATs.

But, despite how difficult it is to score 400, the fact remains that it is still technically possible.

To get a 400, you would have to answer wrong on every single answer on the test. You can’t guess, as guessing means you’d still be right at least 25% of the time, giving you a score above the lowest. A score of 400 would mean you either had to be extremely (un)lucky guessing wrong on every question or you actively avoided every single correct answer on purpose.

How to Choose Your College with a Low SAT Score

When you’re deciding which colleges to apply to, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself a few questions in the process. Ask yourself questions like the below:

  • Does the college have the major you’d like to study?
  • What is the percentage of students working after graduating? How many are unemployed?
  • Does the college offer financial aid opportunities?
  • Is the school regionally accredited?
  • Where is the school located, and if you are planning to study on campus, is it in a good location?

Once you’ve established a set of criteria, you can then start putting together three lists. One list for your safety schools, one list for your match schools, and finally, one list for your reach schools.

A safety college is one where your scores and qualifications exceed the normal admission criteria, a match school is one where you meet the criteria, and a reach school is one where you fall just under the criteria. Some like to call reach colleges their “dream schools.”’

Worried about applying to colleges with low SAT scores? Check out these colleges that don't require the SAT.

Why do colleges accept Low SAT Scores? Are they Good or Bad?

There are many reasons for colleges to accept students with low SAT scores. A growing number of schools have even stopped requiring SAT scores altogether!

Many colleges that accept students who have earned low scores on their SATs likely do so because they use a holistic admissions process that considers a student’s application as a whole (where the SAT scores are just one part).

States with the Lowest SAT Scores

If you’re wondering which states average the lowest outcomes in the SATs, the current lowest in 2022 include:

  • Michigan - 1031
  • Rhode Island - 1011
  • Illinois and West Virginia - 1007
  • Texas - 1003
  • New Mexico - 997
  • Florida - 993
  • District of Columbia (DC) - 987
  • Idaho - 985
  • Delaware - 984

These results were obtained from the College Board reports found here.

How to Improve Your SAT Scores

If you feel like your SAT scores aren’t good enough to help you get into your desired schools, don’t worry, as you can retake the exam as many times as you’d like. In fact, College Board recommends that you take the SAT at least twice. That’s the upside.

The downside, unfortunately, is that each retake will cost you at least $60 for the registration fee, plus any other fees you may incur.

If you’d like to make the most of your money and skip the need to keep retaking the SAT until you’re happy with your results, the best way to do that is to prepare properly. That way, you can get into the SAT percentile you want without multiple retakes.

Want to know how you can improve your results, so you don’t have to submit the lowest score on your SAT? Check out our tips below!

  1. Identify your weaknesses. One of the first things you should do after you take the SAT the first time around is to identify your weaknesses. Figure out which sections, subjects, topics, and questions gave you a hard time, so you can start planning your strategy and working on fixing those weaknesses.
  2. Take test prep seriously and set a study schedule. If you weren’t already taking test prep seriously, it’s time that you do. Set a study schedule and make sure that you stick to it. It could be an hour every day or an hour and a half every other day — the choice is ultimately yours to make.
  3. (Optional) Join an SAT prep course. This tip is entirely optional, but you can join an SAT prep course if you’d like a guided preparation experience. Some prep or review courses can even create custom SAT prep programs specifically for you, to help you improve on your weaknesses. An SAT review program may also benefit you if you find yourself having a few questions about the exam, as you can usually ask the instructors.
  4. Take practice exams using high-quality questions and test prep materials. There are many mock SAT exams around. Some are available online, while others come in printed books. No matter which option you choose, make sure that the practice exams you use have high-quality questions that will help you prepare in the best way.

Studying is just half the battle when it comes to proper SAT preparation. You’ll also want to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the next time you sit for your exam. 

Don’t think about the lowest you can get on SAT retakes — try to clear your mind of worries and concerns so you can focus more on answering the questions on your exam. If meditation helps you, give that a shot on the day of your exam (or even in the days leading up to it!).

On the day before your exam, you may want to rest your mind and take the day off from studying. Enjoy yourself and do your best to relax so that you can get a good night’s sleep. After all, taking the SATs while sleep-deprived can hamper your chances of getting a higher score!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a 0 in the SAT?

In the old version of the SATs, getting a zero was next to impossible. However, in today’s redesigned version, you can score a zero, the lowest possible SAT score in the most technical sense. But, to get a 0, you would have to turn in a blank, unanswered exam.

What was Mark Zuckerberg’s SAT score?

Mark Zuckerberg supposedly scored the highest SAT score possible: a perfect 1600. It’s no surprise, considering he went to Harvard University (despite dropping out).

What is the lowest SAT score someone got into Yale with?

Yale doesn’t have an SAT score requirement for admission, but the 25th percentile score appears to be around 1460. If your scores don’t meet that benchmark, don’t worry — Yale uses a holistic admissions approach, which means your standardized test scores are just one part of your application. If you can improve all the other parts of your application, you may still stand a chance at acceptance.

What are the lowest scores you’ve seen?

Technically, the lowest score is zero if you simply submit a blank exam with your name on it. You can get a 400 if you actively avoid every single correct answer on both sections of the exam. We have not personally seen either result, but we’re sure that someone out there has scored the lowest SAT score ever of 0.

Conclusion

It’s incredibly challenging to get a 400, which is the lowest SAT score possible with today’s redesigned SATs. In fact, it’s so rare that even if you guess every single answer on the exam, you’ll still score higher than a 400! So if you’re lamenting what you think is the worst SAT score, don’t worry — it’s still not a 400.

We hope that this article has helped to answer your questions about the lowest score possible on the SAT. Be sure to check out our tips above to help raise your scores on your next retake!
Already taken your SATs? Check out when scores come out in our handy in-depth guide!

Recent Articles

FAFSA Deadline 2023: Don’t Miss Out on Financial Aid!

What Is the Highest SAT Score Possible? Info for 2022-2023

How Long is Schooling for Optometrists? An In-Depth Guide

When Is Spring Break 2023? [USA Colleges & Universities]

When Do ACT Scores Come Out? Important 2022 - 2023 Dates

How Long Does It Take to Fill Out FAFSA in 2022?