Like many teens, the scariest thing during my high school years was taking the dreaded SATs. For one test — perhaps the most difficult test I had ever faced — to predict whether or not I could go to the college I wanted to was kind of awful, especially since I was known to freeze a bit when faced with a Scantron. If only I knew then what I know now — that while your SAT score is important, your SAT score doesn't matter at all once the test is over and done with. It doesn't estimate how smart you are, it doesn't follow you throughout college, and it in no way should be part of your identity.
My SAT score was mentioned a grand total of once when I got to college, and it was when I was trying to awkwardly make small talk with a guy I was kinda-sorta dating. Having zero clue as to what "appropriate date topics" were, the test came up as something we both had some type of involvement in. He asked how I scored, and, well, it was uncomfortable. After fessing up, things became awkward, as he had scored far, far worse. Regardless, we both ended up at the same college in the same program, because our applications included way more than just that number.
Your SAT score signifies how well you can take the SATs. Sure, getting a great score will help with college entry and scholarships, but it's not the end of the world if you're unhappy with how things turned out. Even if you bombed and managed to somehow misspell your own name on the test, there are always other chances and opportunities to complete your chosen life goal.
Still don't believe me? Consider these points.
1. No job application asks for your SAT scores.
In fact, by the time you're applying for jobs, you might not even remember how you scored. This number will be as faint to your memory as your license plate number is. You'll briefly remember it when you're checking in at a hotel, but still might need to peek in the parking lot to know for sure.
Places of employment care about relevant experience, your (hopefully lack of a) criminal record, your college major, and your overall cheery attitude that you'll display during your interview.
2. You'll get a great education regardless of the college you attend.
An education is an education, and choosing to learn at a place that's likely closer to home and way less expensive might be better off for you in the long run, especially if you're not completely sure about what you want to do for the rest of your life. As an 18-year-old, there was still so much I was unsure of — having to choose a major during this massively stressful life moment was a little overwhelming. And while I don't regret the choice I made, those courses didn't have too much of an impact on what I'm doing today.
If your score kept you from getting into your top university, it doesn't mean that you'll never have the opportunity to register as a full fledged student in the future. There are plenty of chances to study and grow, before transferring elsewhere.
3. Truly supportive friends and family members won't judge you by your score.
The test has changed tremendously since I took it, and it's probably changed even more since your parents took it. While it's important to study and try your hardest, any kind of judgment that anyone gives you regarding your score is slightly misinformed. Parents understand that the SAT is important, but they don't realize the amount of pressure you're under to do well, or how difficult it truly is. As long as you try your best, and prepare to the best of your abilities, no one should be giving you any grief.
And if you do get grief? It'll pass. Getting a bad score doesn't mean that you're unmotivated, or doomed to fail, or preparing for a life of slack. If your parents know you, they know you wouldn't blow the test off on purpose. Prove to them that a less-than-perfect score isn't the be-all-end-all of your educational and professional career.
Same goes with friends. While they're obviously curious as to how well you did (and how their scores compare), it's truly none of their business. SAT scores shouldn't be a reason to brag, nor should they be a vehicle to make someone else feel inferior. Honest to goodness friendships just don't work that way.
4. Great scores are often based on luck.
I don't know anyone who has taken the SATs and knew the answer to every single question. A lot of the test is figuring out how to guess logically. While incorrect answers subtract a quarter of a point, answers left blank don't add or subtract to your overall score. Thus, a lot of scoring is based on partially knowing the answer, and eliminating certain answer choices that definitely couldn't be correct. It's similar to the 50/50 lifeline on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. Your score is pretty much based on how well you can reason under pressure, and not necessarily on how much you know.
5. Truly successful people have triumphed based on passion and hard work.
Those who find themselves with the perfect career didn't get there due to their SAT score. Sure, the score might have helped them get into a top college, but everything after that point they did on their own. They worked hard, they put themselves out there, and they didn't give up on their dreams. Success is earned by hard work and true passion. Successful people suffer hardships, but don't let minor inconveniences get in their way. They don't let a test score serve as a roadblock to their goals.
One test shouldn't be the sole indicator as to whether or not your personal career goals will come to fruition. That's all up to you.