1540 - retake? manual regrade?

Thanks for the responses. I more or less feel the same way as most of you in that he did well and should be proud. He is in 10th grade now so he studied over the summer after his freshman year. He took an SAT course all summer and it was a pretty intensive course where they take a practice exam 3 times/wk, etc.

He does want to go to a top college and one reason why he’s so obsessed with the SAT and his GPA is that that’s kind of all he has under control. He is trying various sports and EC but he’s not really an athlete and it’s not like you can practice basketball all summer and then play on the varsity team, etc. Same with soccer, tennis, etc. He does swim but he’s not one of the best swimmers or anything like that so he kind of feels like he needs to at least get high test scores and such to make up for deficiencies in other areas.

He has asked about starting clubs and such but my advice to him is to look at starting something or working on something like that, etc. if he really wants to and feels a need and a real desire. Don’t start an animal shelter or a teen suicide hotline or start a medical drive at school to collect money for hurricane victims or something like that just because you think it’ll look decent on a college application…his heart should genuinely be in it.

Anyway, he is still disappointed because at his school and around him, there are many others who scored in the high 1500s.

And yeah, earlier in the year he took a practice SAT and scored around 1400 so his stretch goal was 1550 but over the summer he was scoring in the low 1500s so he really wanted a 1550.

His math at 800 was a slight fluke. He has scored that high before but usually he scored around 780 or so. His RW at 740 was a little lower than normal but not by much…he always struggled with reading but writing was usually better so he was expecting around 760 or so.

Anyway, I told him he can take it again if he wants to but to wait a year until his Junior year. A few days ago he was saying that he wanted to take it again in October right away but at least I got him to wait and think things through a bit for a year before he decides on his next step.


He can even retake in senior year. It sounds like his school environment is not healthy. He needs to understand that there is little real difference between a 1580 and 1540 in terms of how colleges view your ability and perfect scores make no difference either.

It sounds like 1) he needs to accept that he can’t have control over admissions outcome and 2) get to know a wide variety of colleges and 3) as I wrote before, it is not about the individual, it is about the assembling of a class

In an environment where peer evaluation of individual worth is based on whether your score is 800 or 740, a parent has a hard task of countering the toxicity.

@mynameiswhatever I can attest to the fact that things have not gone haywire everywhere in terms of competitive admissions. People just need more education on options available. Many top schools like Harvard may not be the best fit: work is hard, classes may be large with grad TF’s, and a lot of competition in general.


Sounds great! Also, a lot of admissions now is if there is dedication/exposure to the intended major. If you are applying for business, for example, did you work in that area over the summer, or for premed, did you do research/volunteer at a hospital/shadow a physician. Start to “package” him for his intended major. My DCs both took the ACT summer after sophomore year without studying to see how they did and to focus their studying on the areas that they were weak in. They scored a 35 so we thought good enough, let’s focus on the rest of the package. Worked out well for the kids. Their application showed their dedication to their intended major and this was also reflected in their essays, where their passion was able to really come through.

This is very good advice. In the interim, he can look into clubs and activities where he can contribute in a meaningful way, as well as keep up his GPA. My second child is currently applying to colleges -some that are reach, but not at the HYPSM level. He does not have any varsity sports participation , even though he tried out. Just didn’t have the physical build for it. He turned his attention to building up the coding club at his school and did some other service activities in depth that he enjoyed.

You can show your child the data on third party college websites on how many students with perfect SAT’s routinely are denied admission to the “prestigious” colleges. HYPS fill many of their limited slots with hooked applicants. So the unhooked child with fantastic academic credentials is in a highly competitive pool. It is unfortunate, and really hard for a kid to understand. I have to keep emphasizing this point to my kid, even as he does deep dives into the reach schools to write a good supplemental essay etc.


Sounds like you are doing a great job managing the situation. As a sophomore, he should be trying activities out and finding something that excites him. He doesn’t have to start a new club or be an athlete. He sounds like a kid that is driven and focused, which will serve him well when he finds his thing.

My kid met his minimum SAT goal on his second sitting, junior year. Like your son also commented that he wanted to take it again to see if he could get better. I didn’t get the impression it was because he thought he needed to improve his chances at admissions. Rather, he saw it as a game or a project he wanted to master. I don’t see that as dysfunctional in the least - lots of people are that way about lots if things having nothing to do with admissions, why should the SAT be different? I did think it was risky to keep taking it, and his limited time would be better spent on other endeavors.

I told him that I didn’t doubt he could get a higher score, but he had to let it go. On his list of real life priorities, perfecting the SAT was low down there. He gave me a “yeah, I know, but still… the ‘what if’ is going to drive me crazy’” and then never mentioned it again. It is a good lesson to learn- accepting good enough. He has to be ok sometimes with just knowing he could’ve done more, even though he didn’t get the chance. Perfectionism can be a dangerous thing.

Eta: It strikes me that it is a lot to ask of our kids to focus on a thing for a whole summer, and then after the performance to say “good job! Time to walk away!” Many kids would think “that’s it? All that work and it is just over!” So maybe the challenge is to reframe what he did over the summer as having application to other things on his priority list.