How I Got a Perfect SAT Score and Won the Lottery

Business School Admissions
Scoring high on the SAT could win you the college scholarship lottery.
I received over $230,000 in college scholarships to pay for tuition, books, housing, food, and other expenses.

How did I do it? Well, it all started with my SAT score.

When I was in high school, I achieved what less than .02% of students have: a perfect 2400 SAT score.

While this was impressive, the scholarships didn’t just come knocking at my door after I got my score. There are plenty of students who get high test scores, but don’t use their achievements to their advantage. You have to be proactive if you are going to secure major scholarship money for college. No one is going to drop off a check at your doorstep.

When I achieved a perfect SAT score in high school, I knew that I had an ace in my pocket. And I’d be foolish not to use it. I received notification of my SAT score in the fall of my senior year. And because most scholarship applications are due in the winter/spring of senior year, I had to get ready.

So I began to research potential scholarships that I qualified for. I scoured scholarship books at the library, used search engines (i.e. Fastweb), and asked older students at my school who had received scholarships about the ones they had applied to.

I came up with a list of 100 targeted scholarships that I thought I had a reasonable shot at winning. I then wrote down the deadline for each scholarship in my planner (iCal wasn’t around back in the day).

So every week, I would have a couple of scholarships that I would need to put together the application for. It became part of my homework: filling out applications, writing scholarship essays, requesting high school transcripts from the high school registrar, asking high school teachers for recommendation letters, and visiting the post office to mail out my applications on time.

I probably spent more time working on scholarship applications than I did working on college applications. After I filled out the first few applications, I realized that a lot of the scholarship questions were asking about the same kinds of topics over and over: community service, professional goals, biggest adversity, etc. So I began to put together a compilation of all my essays so that if the same topic was covered in a future scholarship application question, I could just tweak my original essay slightly.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have to put in hours of work writing quality scholarship essays. But after a while, I built an arsenal of high-quality essays that I could recycle. So even though I applied for 100 scholarships during my senior year, I only wrote 27 essays.

By the time February rolled around, I was wondering if all of this time I had spent working on scholarship applications was worth it. But in March and April, the scholarship notification letters began to roll in. And I ended up receiving almost a quarter million dollars in merit-based scholarships from universities, private foundations, and corporations:

USC Trustee Scholar (Full Tuition) – $160,000+

Coca-Cola Scholar – $20,000

Toyota Community Scholar – $10,000

AXA Achievement Scholarship – $10,000

USC Abrams Attridge Scholarship – $10,000

Adelson Health Scholarship – $8,000

Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship – $6,000

National Merit Scholar Finalist – $2,500

Bill Endow Scholarship – $2,000

Best Buy Scholarship – $1,500

Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarship – $1,000

Lowe’s Community Scholarship – $1,000

DECA National Scholarship – $1,000

Nevada Power Scholarship – $1,000

Project 21 Scholarship – $1,000

Judge Taylor Scholarship – $1,000

AMSAT Scholarship – $1,000



But…despite my perfect SAT score, valedictorian status, and solid extracurriculars, I still got rejected by most of the scholarship foundations I applied to. Sometimes, you are just not the right fit for a particular award. But don’t let that stop you. Keep applying.

Even though I got four rejection letters for every award letter, every time I opened a letter and began to read “Congratulations! It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been chosen to…”, it was definitely worth it.

Shaan Patel is the Director of SAT Programs at Veritas Prep and is the author of the best-selling book SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps.