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Did atrocious on the SAT; SAT Optional Suggestions?

early_collegeearly_college Posts: 2,846Registered User Senior Member
edited December 2011 in Parents Forum
I just found out my SAT score, and I am very upset. I am a junior in high school, and took the SAT for the first time a couple weeks ago. I received a 1350 (out of 2400), please do not laugh!

I received:
430 Math
470 Reading
450 Writing (8 on essay)

I took a SAT Prep class for $90 dolllars at my school which was useless. I have the official SAT Blue Book, but never did the practice tests. I did read all of the beginning chapters about each section though. I did take a practice test online at College Board and recieved a 1450:

460 Math
490 Reading
500 Writing (10 on essay)

I know I could have studied more, but it is very hard with my schoolwork. I am a huge procrastinator, so this is the reason why. Every time I take a practice test, I never had time to actually go back and understand why I got it wrong because I am exhausted. It took me four hours to do one test. I also did much better on the practice tests in the school prep class (higher than college board practice test). I have stress anxiety and I am a terrible test taker. I have always scored "average" on standarized tests growing up as a kid. I have been obsessed with the admissions process since 8th grade; NYU has always been my dream school (not happening now lol). I am very bad at timed tests as well and feel rushed; I really didn't think I did that bad. I am in integrated algebra 2, and I really didn't learn all the math on the SAT. I also very bad at geometry and trig, but better at algerba. I also didn't answer as many questions on the previous practice test, but hate leaving answers blank. I did leave some blank though.

I am taking the ACT Saturday, and I am less prepared than the SAT. I have looked over the offical prep book, but I have been really busy with school work. My plan is to retake the test I do better on; I have a feeling I will do much better on the ACT. I really want to give the test my all the second time I take it. Should I retake the test in May/June or in August/September? I can study all of June, but will be in France as an exchange student in July. My cousins girlfriend received a 1550 on the SAT, but a 29 on the ACT (so I have faith).

I am very upset because I try very hard and have taken mostly all AP/Honors throughout high school. I have a 3.4 cumulative GPA. I am definitly not an average kid who takes all regular classes and can careless about school. I will have about 5 AP Classes by the time I graduate and 12 Honors Classes. I received an academic letter this year, and I have an upward trend. My GPA went up three points sophomore year. I have always exceeded in social studies/language arts, but science and math are my week points. I did get an A in Honors Chemistry though, and have taken AP classes since I was a freshman. My school DOES NOT grade inflate at all; I have to earn all of my grades. My SAT scores and my GPA/curriculum do not mix. My current junior schedule includes:
AP US History
Honors French II
Honors Language Arts
Honors Physics
Integrated Algebra II (only CP class, was in honors freshman year)
Acting (have been in drama since I was a freshman)


I am very afraid all of my work will go to waste because of my SAT scores. I cannot even attend a "decent" instate (Georgia) college with my SAT scores. I was going to do dual enrollment next year, but now I don't even qualify. I will be upset if I go to a college where I could have gotten into with all easy classes. I know I am not the average "CC" student by any means, so I was afraid to release my scores because of all the ridicule. The standards are way higher here than in the real world, but my SAT scores are terrible outside CC too.

I want to become a print journalist and write specifially for the arts or become a talent agent/casting director. I am also interested in the social sciences, and I have a big passion for the Holocaust. I have been acting since six and have been in more than twenty plays, but I do not want to major in drama. I have also been on the swim team since freshman year. I have spent hours/days researching schools, so I know a lot about the process (look at my word count). I would really love urban LACs, but I am very open. A journalism major is not manatory, although I would perfer it. I am somewhat artsy, but not really. I am not preppy or hippy at all. I have never fit in with the drama kids, and I have never done drugs or been drunk. NYU, Vassar, and Emerson have been my top choices, but my list is going to change.

I really love all of the College that Change Lives schools, but they tend to be a little too rural. I want to stick to SAT Optional Colleges which gives good aid. I also want a chance to get a merit scholarship without submiting test scores (so schools like Goucher would not work). I am fine with suburban/urban colleges in the Northeast, Midwest, California/Oregon/Washington, and Florida. My parents are looking to afford a school around 20k overall, so we need decent aid. The College of Wooster was a good example, they gave merit scholarships to 90% of incoming freshman. I want as little debt as possible. I also love open curriculums and schools which have a lot more girls than guys (I'm a dude). I have already looked at: Urinsus, Conn College, Wheaton College (MA), etc.

I would appreciate any general advice or college suggestions. I also realize how terrible I did on the SAT, but I cannot go back in time. I was actually a lot less stressed, carefree, and relaxed when I took it. Thanks!
Post edited by early_college on
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Replies to: Did atrocious on the SAT; SAT Optional Suggestions?

  • bopperbopper Posts: 1,517Registered User Senior Member
    You can take the SAT again. You need to find out why you did so poorly.

    Do you have a lack of knowledge in Math? Do you panic? Do you need to work faster?

    Talk to your guidance counselor and ask if they have suggestions. Talk to your parents and see if they can enroll you in a formal SAT prep course. Maybe you need more than the one your school provided.
  • rodneyrodney Posts: 9,406Registered User Senior Member
    come back after the ACT to figure out a plan of action....in the meantime, check this out:

    The National Center for Fair & Open Testing | FairTest...

    all is not lost......it's only February....
  • geeps20geeps20 Posts: 3,250- Senior Member
    take the blue book practice test section 1 at a time, then review. My son had trouble with the CR section and just doing the practice tests helped a lot. After 3,4 tests, you get a feeling for the questions and the correct answer is more apparent.
  • raideraderaiderade Posts: 2,499- Senior Member
    Here are my recommendations for you:
    - It is apparent that marathon SAT study sessions are not good. Try to do 1 section, or even 10 questions at a time and review all those answers. You will get a lot more out of truly understanding how to do 10 questions than taking a whole test and not understanding why you got any wrong.
    - For math, use the official SAT study guide and watch the video explanations on KhanAcademy.org. They are excellent explanations that I credit with my math score (720).
    - Can your family afford educational testing? Does your state provide educational testing? It is quite possible that you have a learning disability or diagnosable anxiety of some kind. In my junior year I uncovered that I had a visual memory disability that put me at the 5%ile nationally. I received accommodations and my SAT score jumped 130 points with no additional preparation.

    Do NOT beat yourself up over this. The SAT does not define you as a person in any way. It is a test that can be studied and mastered (but doesn't have to be if it's not something you necessarily value). My score jumped from an 1880 to a 2190 with preparation and some testing accommodations. Your's can jump significantly too if you are willing to put in the time and effort.

    If you ever need help with procrastination, I highly recommend either Cal Newport's blog StudyHacks or his book, How to be a Straight A Student.

    Please feel free to pm me if you have any questions.
  • jkiwmomjkiwmom Posts: 1,353Registered User Senior Member
    You have lots of time to retake it and don't beat yourself up. I know plenty of people with lower scores the first time taking it. You have time to prep (take an actual prep course, do not go it on your own) and retake! But, to add to your list of schools that don't require the SAT or ACT --I would add Denison University, Guilford College and not sure but maybe Warren Wilson?.
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 23,361Registered User Senior Member
    Sign up for the question a day at the College Board, everyone can squeeze in time for one question. :)
  • atomomatomom Posts: 3,516Registered User Senior Member
    You know what you need to do. Do the Blue Book. One section at a time. And go over your wrong answers right away. Reviewing your mistakes is the only way to avoid making similar mistakes the next time--that is the key to increasing your score. Slowly build up your test endurance--start with one section, then go up to two, three, four, etc. until you can take an entire practice test. You can't just go out and run a marathon with no training. The SAT is a marathon test--you need to work on your stamina.
    Sign up for the question of the day.

    The ACT is even more time-pressured than the SAT. You need to practice for that if you hope for a good score.
  • nelly29nelly29 Posts: 88Registered User Junior Member
    It's February of your junior year. The SAT is administered in March, May, June, September, October and November. All of those are in time to send scores to the colleges you'll be applying to. If you're not comfortable taking the test in March, that's understandable. But do take advantage of the May or June test- that way, you know what you have to work on over the summer and you can try again in the fall. Don't get down on yourself because your first try at it didn't produce the results you wanted. Now you know that you need more preparation. So practice a little at a time, and have a little faith, you might only need a few weeks of studying to get your score up by tens, or maybe even hundreds, of points.
  • SchokoladeSchokolade Posts: 1,111Registered User Senior Member
    For some SAT test dates, you can pay about $18 to the College Board to receive your actual Qs and As; a good idea so you can prepare for the next time you take the test. I agree with previous posters who suggested that seeing what you missed and why is very important if you wish to improve your score.

    Also, it might be better to say that you have a passion for studying about the Holocaust, rather than that you have a passion for the Holocaust. I knew what you meant, but I think you should be cautious about inadvertently giving someone the impression that you passionately believe that the Holocaust was a good idea. I also have read a lot about the Holocaust and found a visit to Dachau to be very eye-opening--but then, seeing one concentration camp was enough for a lifetime. I once heard an elderly man speak about how he was one of the first Americans to stumble upon a particular concentration camp during World War II. He and the other enlisted man had had no idea that such things existed, believed they had found an insane asylum and thought it strange that all the inmates wanted to hug them.

    I wish you well on your studies and your ACT/SAT prep!
  • early_collegeearly_college Posts: 2,846Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks everyone! I appreciate the advice. However, how much can one improve his/her scores? I never hear about scores improving by the 1000's. Also, should I retake both the SAT/ACT? I was just going to retake the test I do better on. I can then focus on one test instead of both. We did look into other SAT prep classes and they were around $600-$800; my parents would never pay that much for a class. Do people usually tend to have a big gap between their SAT/ACT scores?

    Schoklade- I am passionate about studying the Holocaust :)
  • raideraderaiderade Posts: 2,499- Senior Member
    You definitely do not need an SAT prep class, just a good, strong work ethic. Make a study plan and follow it. It will do WONDERS.
  • dmd77dmd77 Posts: 7,705Registered User Senior Member
    Some years back I knew a kid who had a nice pair of 800s on his SATs. Turned out he'd taken them six or seven times to get there, starting with a pair of 450s (or thereabouts). I've never had much patience with people who say they have text anxiety, because the easy way to get over test anxiety is to take more tests, until taking tests is boring.

    You don't need an expensive prep course, you need a plan that you will actually follow. I'd suggest 5 to 10 minutes of SAT questions before every (yes, every!) meal. Then eating becomes a nice reward for taking the test, and it becomes routine. Do five questions, check your answers, and eat your meal.
  • calmomcalmom Posts: 16,743Registered User Senior Member
    I agree that it make strategic sense for you to get a baseline score from the ACT, and focus on whichever test you do best on. Keep in mind that results might be mixed -- my daughter did better on the reading/writing parts of the ACT, but worse on the math, for example.

    Do take advantage of whatever option you have to find out where you went wrong on the test. Are you running out of time and not finishing the exam? If so, you may need to improve your test-taking strategy -- you may be spending too much time parsing out the meaning of the questions and puzzling out answers, rather than just going with your gut and moving on.

    Or are you actually missing questions that you should know the answer to? That could be due to reading & language issues -- that is, you may be misunderstanding questions because you are missing nuances of language in the function words of a sentence. Things like missing the word "not".

    Beyond that, cultivate your passion. Use the CTCL book as a starting point, not an end point -- that is, it gives you an idea of types of things to look for in a college, but it is not a comprehensive list of all good colleges. The point is that if you look beyond rankings, there are all sorts of college you never heard of that may be a good fit for you.

    That being said, Clark University -- which I believe is a CTCL college - also offers an undergraduate concentration in holocaust and gender studies. You might want to contact the coordinator of that major -- see Undergraduate Concentration | Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies | Clark University -- Clark claims to have a holistic admissions policy, although they do require test scores -- but your passion may be your key to college admission.

    Do talk to your parents about finances. If they are unable or unwilling to pay $600 for an SAT prep course, what if anything will they be able to do to help finance your college education? If the answer is "not much", you may be stressing over the wrong thing. It may be that many of the schools you would like to attend will be unaffordable -- so it may be that you really need to go off the beaten path in terms of your college education.
  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Posts: 5,746Registered User Senior Member
    I have spent hours/days researching schools

    You're ahead of the curve in this area, but now it's time to put that (and CC) aside and just focus on practicing for the tests and keeping your grades up. As you know, it's an uphill battle to find merit aid without good test scores.

    Imo, it's of very little value to keep practicing without reviewing the questions/topics you're having trouble with. I agree with the others who suggested breaking it into regular, defined study/practice times. Put it on your schedule every day, or every other day, and you will be in the habit and less stressed when it comes down to the final week or so. This is also a very good habit to get into before you get to college...those who procrastinate often can't catch up!
  • mamommamom Posts: 2,791Registered User Senior Member
    Do not spend more money on test prep. Do 5-10 problems a day in the areas you have the most difficulty with. Correct and figure out you mistakes. The next day do more problems like the ones you are having difficulty with. Correct, etc. Don't waste time doing stuff you know. Go to the library and borrow a few books and make a zillion copies of the answer sheet. Good luck.
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