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A Little Advice

RonaldP66RonaldP66 36 replies21 threads Junior Member
edited February 25 in Parents Forum
My daughter is a Junior and has taken both the SAT and ACT. Her scores were similar on both tests and not at all where she wants them to be. And these scores were also way below what would get her accepted where she wants to go. I know there's a lot of options for colleges so I get that. But she's a good student with a 4.1 GPA, taught herself Sign Language and started an ASL Club at her school and has also played Varsity tennis for three years. But there's something going on when she takes these standardized tests. Perhaps she too nervous. Perhaps she puts too much pressure on herself. She says on her practice tests she does very well and she seemed very confident going in, but the results just aren't there. My wife and I don't put added pressure on her at all. We live in L.A. and she's the one clamoring to go back east to school. I'm just wondering if anyone has ran into this with their own kids and what (if there is one) solution you found... besides more tutoring, etc. I appreciate the feedback.
edited February 25
48 replies
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Replies to: A Little Advice

  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6897 replies30 threads Senior Member
    What is her unweighted GPA? What is her scores and what schools is she targeting?
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  • RonaldP66RonaldP66 36 replies21 threads Junior Member
    Unweighted GPA is 3.96. 1190 SAT and got back her ACT today and it was a 24. She was targeting Northeastern but looks out of reach unless test scores really improve.
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  • xyz123axyz123a 106 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I don't have advice on improving scores other than tutoring and practice, practice, practice. Our school's college counselor says that Northeastern puts a lot of weight on test scores and we have seen that play out with our kids classmates. If your D has strong interest in Northeastern, look into the N.U . in program. Students from our school who chose to be considered for this program, where students spend the first semester abroad, were very successful in gaining admission to NU. Most of these students had test scores below Noreastern's 25th percentile, but were strong students otherwise. Wishing your D the best of luck as she begins this process!
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6897 replies30 threads Senior Member
    https://www.manhattanprep.com/college/act-5lb-book/

    Get this book and a tutor that understands her weaknesses and strengths. If you have a tutor and she's doing well (what are her practices scores??) on practice tests but not in the real scenario then of course there is a disconnect. Any learning disabilities of any type? Test anxiety? The tutor should be watching her taking the tests.

    If not. When she does her practice tests they should be real scenarios. So.. Get up at the same time and get ready the same way. Take her to a library and maybe use the quite room and do the real test. Do this for a few weeks before the tests every week. It's hard but students that have done this have done well.

    The Act is a very fast test. Is she finishing the test sections? There are tricks even in this book that help with taking the test. Her tutor should of given her some tips about certain sections etc.

    Also.. What is the naviance stats for her school with kids that got in.

    Some kids have to take the Act a few times like 3 to get their scores. I think Northeastern super scores also.

    But has she taken a practice Sat? Some kids are substantially better on one vs the other. There are testing centers that will give her a shortened version to get an idea if she would be successful at it. Both my kids are Act kids even though my sons tutor had to work on his timing since he's a slower reader.


    Lastly, look at schools that she will be able to get in cleanly. Northeastern is like 18 % acceptance rate. Even with a 34 Act she might not get in. 34 is the sweet spot for lots of colleges. Realistically she needs to get into the 30s at least. This can happen and will help with her other schools she's applying to.
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  • compmomcompmom 11547 replies81 threads Senior Member
    edited February 25
    Here is the link to the Fairtest list of test-optional schools. https://www.fairtest.org/university/optional
    You will be surprised. Many many excellent and top schools.

    Students applying without scores are treated the same as those who do for many schools. The exception, sometimes, is if you want merit aid.
    edited February 25
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30579 replies194 threads Senior Member
    The gap between her test scores and her GPA merits investigation. Three things to start with include:
    1) Poor test-taking strategies.
    2) Test-induced anxiety.
    3) Previously undiagnosed learning differences such as slow processing or dyslexia.

    Each of those has its own work-arounds, and each is worth sorting out before college.
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  • DaisySimpsonDaisySimpson 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Hello,
    I can understand the problem, I think it's just because of study pressure in her mind. She is trying hard but the results are not up to the mark due to the unwanted pressure which occurs when we think more about the particular task or event.
    I would suggest you create a relaxed schedule for your daughter and ask her to follow. This schedule should have proper time for studies and other activities like singing, playing or any other activity which she likes to do. It will help her to concentrate on her studies without stress or pressure. I hope it will help your daughter.
    Thanks
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 2216 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I see this all the time. IMHO, many kids who do well in school with high GPA's are good students who work hard. They are diligent, thorough, and take advantage of all opportunities to get good grades. In the long run, this will serve them well. Far better than the ability to get a good score on the SAT.

    IMHO, your options are test optional schools and/or professional prep for the tests. My son's best friend in H.S. was just like your dd. He was in the top 10 of the class, all honors/AP classes, high GPA, great all around kid. SAT & ACT were unremarkable. He got with one of the best tutors in the area and raised his ACT by ten points and his SAT considerably. This ended up being well worth it because he got great merit $$ at the school he wanted (test required). He hated the tutor and hated the prep work but it sure paid off!

    Good luck!
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  • mom2andmom2and 3046 replies20 threads Senior Member
    I agree with finding a tutor that will give practice tests in a test-like setting, including timing her and with other kids if possible. Even a test-prep class may work to get her used to taking the test in a group setting.

    And make sure she understands that at most schools grades are more important than tests. Have her get excited about a safety or a test-optional school. Lots of east coast schools to pick from.

    How does she do on high-stakes tests in school? Does she do as well on finals as in class? That could also be a clue.

    Good luck!
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  • RonaldP66RonaldP66 36 replies21 threads Junior Member
    We had her at a very well respected test tutoring center and the crazy part is that she was getting 32 and 33 on the practice tests... lower in math... but she thought this would balance out and she would get a good score overall. There is obviously a disconnect and unfortunately we can't get her answers back on the Feb ACT test but she'll do it again in July (we're giving her time off) and on that test she can get the answers and see what she did wrong. We're also switching prep places. Maybe it will make a difference. Thanks for the advice everyone.
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  • gs9015gs9015 4 replies1 threads New Member
    You may want to consider letting her take the April test and getting back her answer sheet. Some colleges have admissions starting in July! I want my jr done by then. I also think taking the test multiple times helps with testing anxiety if your daughter is willing. My daughter brought it up 3 points the first retest.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6897 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I would talk more closely with her teachers and current tutoring now. As mentioned things like slower processing can be an issue as someone already mentioned. Her teachers would have a clue about that. Many highly intelligent people are slow processors.

    If switching places have them give her both practice tests as I stated before. You just might find out that the Sat is a much better test for her. It is common for some to do poorly on the Act but do great on the Sat and vice versa.

    Also I agree. Consider the April test. For some kids the more times the better within reason.
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  • UGG2023UGG2023 283 replies5 threads Junior Member
    My high grades low score PSAT DD was able to increase her SAT score by 320 Points with 2 hours tutoring a week for 7 months. She ended up at Wake Forest (test optional) but did send her scores.
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  • 1stCollBound1stCollBound 42 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @RonaldP66 Does your daughter know what she would like to major in? I ask because my daughter (current junior) has very similar stats (WGPA 4.2, UWGPA 3.9) and scored a 26 on her most recent ACT (Oct 2019). Original score was a 19 in 7th grade. She will be taking the test again in April (deadline to register before late fee is Friday, Feb. 28th) in hopes of bringing hers up. My daughter plans to major in Communications. Given that, we have discovered several Liberal Arts colleges (never on our radar screen) that seem like they may be a better fit than some of the bigger named schools. Many offer great merit and don't require upper 30's ACT score!

    My son is a freshman in college this year majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Given he is our oldest our only college search experience was with him. Given his major we never considered LAC. We only looked at top engineering programs. We started out with our daughter approaching the search the same way. Once we discovered LAC and really investigated their programs, we have completely shifted our approach. She will continue to try to improve her score but there is not as much pressure as there was before. And she seems intrigued by the offerings. Just something to consider if your child leans in the direction…
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30249 replies59 threads Senior Member
    At this point in time, with college application season looming on the horizon, I think the Fairtest list is something your DD and you should be perusing. I’ve also seen excellent students gain admissions to colleges “above their test grades” by looking for schools where their majors are underrepresented. Hopkins for premed and IR is crazy difficult in admissions, language studies and interest, not so much. CMU CS school is one of the most selective in the country, but it’s H&SS school has far more reasonable accept rates.

    I don’t suggest picking majors and programs just to gain admissions. One has to show interest and aptitude in the area. For those who are set on impacted majors, looking for schools with realistic chances for acceptance in that field is advisable. A number of schools do not make transfers among its divisions easy. However, kids who can do well academically—get high grades, , may find that it’s the grades In college that dictate such transfers.

    @blossom is correct in that life is filled with tests so if there is an issue here, it can certainly give more flexibility and options to successfully address not doing well on tests. However, a lot of very successful and happy people are out there that do not test well. It’s not a do or die thing , and addressing this should be weighed against the stress and unhappiness of focusing on this.

    One of my kids could not hit 1000 on the SAT1. Did much better on the AP exams. Got into some selective colleges— yes, Fairtest was fair to him. And he did get accepted to Northeastern but in the first year abroad program. He was aceoted to UMD-CP for the second semester. A cousin was accepted to Penn State but had to start in the summer as a condition of acceptance. There are some back door ways to get into some colleges.

    One thing I do want to bring up about some of the Fairtest schools. Being full pay likely helps at the ones that are need aware, and applying without submitting test scores is not likely to snag merit money. JMO, here.
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  • RonaldP66RonaldP66 36 replies21 threads Junior Member
    The crazy thing is that when my daughter started with the tutor she was getting low 30s in certain sections on the ACT. So to drop to mid 20s on the actual test was pretty demoralizing.

    She kind of got this way when she was playing competitive tennis as well. So nervous to just go for it and hit the ball like she does in practice. It's certainly gotten better but it could definitely have transferred into her test taking skills.


    I think the pressure and rigor of school plus having to study for a standardized test is so much on 16 and 17 years olds. Just doesn't give them much time to be kids.

    We're going to target July and August so she can study during the summer when it's the only thing (education-wise) on her mind.

    She loved Northeastern and it's Forensic Science/ASL major/minor but obviously we will look at a lot of options here in the next few months.
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  • 1stCollBound1stCollBound 42 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Clearly you have a very bright and determined daughter and I have no doubt that in the end, she will end up exactly where she is supposed to be.

    Just to be clear, I was by no means suggesting she change/tailor her major to gain admission to any particular college. I was just sharing our "discovery" which has turned out to be a huge blessing for my daughter.

    Best of luck to your daughter!
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