right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

I feel like my SAT scores are holding me back.

TurtleCoTurtleCo 5 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
(I don't like being cocky, I just don't know how to present this with any more honesty)

My achievements everywhere else are probably of the highest caliber compared to any of my peers. I've taken the most advanced track that my school could give me, ranking first out of our small senior group of 110, with a 4.0 GPA unweighted. I've taken many positions as captain for two of our sports teams, as senior member of academic extracurriculars, and as president of our student council. With those positions, I've been very involved around my school, seemingly living on campus most of the time. I have weird hobbies and activities that help my school in many ways, such as film production, which aided in the creation of my school's STEM accreditation video (of which certified our school).

I have so much confidence in all those aspects of my certification, that I am passionate to write as many essays that it would take to show my willingness for a higher education...

...every aspect, except for my standardized test score.

I've just retaken the SAT, and received a worse score than when I took it March of Junior Year (1350 -> 1320). I only have the October Test date left before early admissions to my reach schools (MIT, USC, Stanford), and am losing faith in my ability to perform well in a test setting; I only realized how important the SAT truly was the end of my Junior Year, and didn't really know how to improve until the beginning of my Senior Year. I thought that I studied well enough for the August test, and just completely blew it. That was when I had a more flexible schedule. Now, my schedule is pretty tight, and I don't know when I'll have the time and energy to study for it. I've also used up the fee waivers, so now my parents will actually have to pay for it.

If it's any consolation, I was accepted into my safety school(ASU), and will most likely get into their honors college (yay).

It's not the end of the world for me. I just have so much ambition.

Looking at it critically, it all seems petty. The easiest solution is to just study and recuperate any damage dealt in other aspects of my high school career. The application process is stressful, time consuming, and small imperfections within my application just make me feel like my entire being is worth less. The incentive to improve becomes clouded with the emotions of mediocrity.

If any of you could help me create a better study schedule, that would be greatly appreciated.

If you have any insight on how those stats look in college admissions, that would also be helpful.

For anyone who has been in similar positions, could you tell me how you made it through senior year?

Sorry for venting.

Thank you for reading.
20 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: I feel like my SAT scores are holding me back.

  • angiejafariangiejafari 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    hey, i havent made it through senior year yet, but just wanna tell you im in a similar situation. my SAT score is 1440 and this is not good enough for a top 10 school. october is also my last chance for SAT. dont haave advice for you cuz im in the same problem, but just wanna say best of luck! we can do this!!! :) STUDY HARD
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7259 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Have you tried to take a practice ACT? Some students do significantly better with one format than the other.
    · Reply · Share
  • TurtleCoTurtleCo 5 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I haven't taken a practice ACT test. I don't really know where to get the resources to help me when taking these standardized tests. Is there an ACT practice test online?
    · Reply · Share
  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Yes, there are actually 5 or 6 official tests available online. Google "complete official act practice tests" for the links.
    · Reply · Share
  • mamag2855mamag2855 801 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    We had our 3 kids carefully review all incorrect answers on their real and practice SATs, looking for trends and areas to focus on when studying, as well as strategies to answer questions and utilize time efficiently.

    There are many books available which can be used to help boost scores (your school may have books available to borrow for free, as well as your public libraries). Khan academy is excellent for practicing, also, and you can find help with specific areas where you may need to target extra study time.

    Rather than spending large chunks of time on full length practice tests, our kids would take timed tests of various sections during the week, whenever they had a little time to squeeze it in, with a couple of full length practice tests when time permitted.

    There are lots of ideas and suggestions for books and strategies in the testing forum/threads here on CC, it can be a great resource.

    Definitely look into taking the ACT, some students prefer the format and do better than SAT results.

    · Reply · Share
  • tgl2023tgl2023 101 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I suggest that you get physical copies of the practice tests (printouts from web, or a book from store), get a room at your school or a quiet room at the library, set a timer and practice test taking there. During these practices, don't allow yourself earbuds, snack breaks, bathroom breaks, glancing at your phone, or chattering with friends. You need to practice concentrating for 3 hours on one task in a quiet public setting. Do this twice a week until the real test. I don't think the online tests are as helpful as the paper-and-pencil ones.
    · Reply · Share
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33093 replies3778 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    You can apply to some test optional schools.
    · Reply · Share
  • tgl2023tgl2023 101 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Agree with post #7 ^^, for example, University of Chicago (to add to your reach schools).
    · Reply · Share
  • racereerracereer 171 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Not to add to your stress, but have you taken SAT subject tests? It is pretty much a requirement for MIT and Stanford. For USC it depends on what you plan to major in.
    What are your SAT score splits? What do you plan to major in? Also USC doesn't have EA, only application by Dec 1 to be considered for merit. Between MIT and Stanford you can only choose one to apply EA. This gives you a little more time for test scores.

    My S19 was very similar to you. Top of his class, most rigorous classes (14 AP/dual enrollment level classes) , NASA research mentorship, very good ECs (but no national recognition), but his SAT scores were on the low end (780M and 630V). We also fell asleep on the whole standardized test thing. He didn't take his SAT until June of Jr year and then again in Aug. He then spent the fall of his senior semester chasing SAT subject test scores and even tried take the ACT, but that backfired as he drove to wrong test site. Needless to say it was a very stressful semester trying to do testing, essays, applications, and a very hard course load. Of his top 3 schools (MIT, Princeton, and Ga Tech) he was accepted for engineering to Ga Tech along with some other great high ranked engineering programs. Even if his scores were higher, I don't think he would have been accepted to MIT or Princeton as he really didn't have a hook those schools were looking for.

    What other schools are you considering and what are your financial requirements? Even if you had near perfect scores the schools you have listed are still very much reaches. Don't base your overall success on getting into one of those schools.
    · Reply · Share
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5506 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    The most obvious answer is to apply to test optional schools. Chicago is one. Many LACs are also test optional if you would prefer a smaller school. One daughter had quite a high SAT score, but only applied to test optional schools for the simple reason those were the schools that she was interested in. There are many good ones (the ones that I know of are mostly small).

    The other option, if there is time and if you can afford it, is to hire a tutor. They can give you a sample test, and then see where you did well and where you need help. Then you can focus in on the areas where focusing will do the most good. This might involve answers to various types of questions, but also might involve test taking tips. It has been said that to some extent the SAT measures a student's ability, but that to some extent the SAT measures the parent's ability to pay to hire a tutor.
    edited September 16
    · Reply · Share
  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1383 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    Definitely try a practice ACT. Both tests are about 3 hours (2 hrs 55 for the ACT), but the ACT has 215 questions while the SAT has 154. The ACT questions are generally more straightforward, but you have less time. Also the "Science" section in the ACT really is about reading graphs and charts.

    What were your component scores on your SAT? Was at least 1 score in the 700's? Do you know where your mistakes were? Were they silly or careless mistakes on easier questions, time issues or were you just unable to solve the problem? For MIT and Stanford, the 25th percentile for Reading is 720/700 and for Math 780/720. These are the scores you need to shoot for.

    The only way to improve your scores that much is to eliminate almost all careless errors and have the substance pretty much nailed down. It is a function of short drills on particular sections where you may be weak and then at least 2 full practice tests in "testing conditions" to get speed, familiarity and knowing how to avoid careless mistakes down. It's doable, but in the meantime, you might want to lower your sights a bit as far as "match" schools are concerned. If you are content with ASU, you do have some leeway to shoot for reach schools.
    edited September 16
    · Reply · Share
  • joecollege44joecollege44 116 replies8 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The list of test-optional colleges is getting bigger and bigger and includes some great schools: Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, GW, Temple, Skidmore...
    · Reply · Share
  • NoelCatNoelCat 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    We paid big bucks for a private tutor for the SAT and after spending all of that money my son still got about the same score as the PSAT,. He took the ACT without any prep and did much better, Try the ACT, sign up to take it oct, the deadline is coming up soon.
    · Reply · Share
  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1428 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My achievements everywhere else are probably of the highest caliber compared to any of my peers
    Your peers are no longer the other students at you HS. The numbers really working against you are that there is about 35,000 high schools in the US. Almost all of them will have at least one student like you. Many of them will have multiples. My DS’s HS likely has 25+ students like you. There just isn’t enough room at the top schools for all of the students that meet the academic standards.
    · Reply · Share
  • Techno13Techno13 175 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Test Optional/Test Flexible for sure! Ones that come to mind: GWU, Brandeis, Pitzer, U Chicago, (if you are female?) Smith, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr. There are others. What is your intended major? Good luck-- the emphasis on standardized tests infuriates me.
    · Reply · Share
  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1430 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Are colleges really "test optional" or only optional for low SES applicants? I would get that question answered before thinking I didn't need to submit scores.
    · Reply · Share
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My one child applied to 4 schools that participated in FairTest, did not send his test scores, and was accepted to them all. I had my doubts but 4 out of 4, is pretty good. You will lose out on any merit that includes test scores as part of the reason for the scholarship.

    I agree OP should consider some of those schools that do not require test scores.

    The other thing he should do is start looking at transfer acceptances at schools. uSC does accept a goodly number. Don’t know about MIT and Stanford. Far less , Im sure. But there are many selective schools that are very transfer friendly. Instead of banging your head against this test score wall, work on getting yourself very well situated at a college that will take you, plan on taking courses similar to the programs that interest you in the more selective schools and work to get straight A’s in those courses so you stand a good chance of transferring. Test scores aren’t as important for transfers. Getting those grades in key courses at college is very important.

    This allows you to make a plan and have more positive energy in going forward.

    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78229 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Are colleges really "test optional" or only optional for low SES applicants? I would get that question answered before thinking I didn't need to submit scores.

    Seems like "test optional" for SAT/ACT means that for any applicant.

    But "SAT subject tests recommended" typically means that they expect them for applicants other than those who are from disadvantaged situations (e.g. first-generation-to-college students in low SES high schools where no one ever mentions SAT subject tests).
    · Reply · Share
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12870 replies241 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You should get fee waivers for the ACT - i think they are available for two sittings.
    · Reply · Share
  • bopperbopper 14067 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Mantra for the HS student:

    Do not think 'Every point I get off of a homework or test is a point away from going to Harvard."
    Think: "I need to do my best, and there will be a college that is right for me when I graduate."

    Do not think "If I don't go to an Ivy League School/Top20, I am doomed forever."
    Think: "No matter where I go, I can bloom where I am planted. I can get involved and shine."

    Do not think: "My life is over...the kid in my math class is taking 20 APs and I am taking 5. I will never succeed."
    Think: "I need to challenge myself, but only to the point where I can still do well."

    Do not think: I have the top GPA in my class, Harvard has to let me in despite my SAT scores..
    Think: My GPA reflects how I am doing vs. my peers, and the SAT/ACT scores level the playing field.

    So of course you should study for the SAT...but it may just be that you are a 1350 SAT student. That is okay. But start looking for colleges that fit 1350 students.

    You have to find a college that fits you, not fit yourself to the college.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity