Disappointing SAT results

I was also sad to see lower score this morning than on the Dec 2018 SAT. Both math and reading went down.

@harperdoodle, my D20 used Magoosh for prep for the SAT and ACT retake. For both of the tests the area she was specifically trying to improve was the writing and grammar (so the writing/grammar part of the reading SAT and the English part of the ACT). For both the SAT and ACT when she took it the first time, that was the area she needed most improvement in. She did not use Magoosh for math at all, nor for reading comprehension. While her scores unfortunately went down in both the SAT and ACT, her sub scores for what she used Magoosh for went up. Her ACT English went from 26 to 29, and the writing and language questions score listed on the student detail on SAT went from a 30 to 33. So in that sense I can vouch that the program was helpful. She only used it for about 2-3 weeks as I signed up a bit late and she was very busy in April and May prepping for AP exams, finals, and just other stuff that make junior year very busy.

I can vouch that the score guarantee or refund from Magoosh is true. I got my ACT payment refunded within a few days of sending screen shots of both of her scores.

@voyagermom my son was also disappointed in his SAT scores today, specifically math. We used a private tutor and he did not make the guaranteed score increase so he qualifies for additional hours. But I’m wondering if he’d get more out of using Magoosh. It looks like there is a one month package for $79 and they can earn rewards? Maybe that would motivate him. Could he only use it for the math sections?

I know that many many students have gotten good results at a place called Elite Prep, which has a lot of locations in Northern and Southern California, and in Texas as well. It isn’t uncommon to see 150 to 200 point improvements in 3 months. Princeton Review also has a 200 point improvement score guarantee if I’m not mistaken.

@marcie123 I see no harm in having your son try Magoosh. And yes, he can use whatever parts he wants to review. You select lessons from whatever topic you want to focus on. As far as the rewards being motivating, I wouldn’t count on that. I don’t recall my DD talking about any rewards. I just recall me nagging her “Have you done any SAT review today?” LOL!

@voyagermom the rewards would totally motivate my oldest daughter! I think part of my son wants to try one more time and part wants to be done! He’s a much stronger math student but has been scoring better on the English sections. He just told me that he’s mentally exhausted when it’s time for math. I don’t know what to tell him for that unfortunately.

Sorry to all those with disappointment from the June SAT.

My S20 got a 1090 in May on the SAT and so he is currently doing an in-person SAT prep course at school through Kaplan. But his first practice test last week was only a 1010 and then today he only got a 1030. So I’m not sure how much the class is helping (he’s in it for 3 hours a day). He will be re-taking the SAT in August and we really wanted him to get to 1240 (required for WUE tuition at UN Reno), but at this point we’ll be surprised if he beats his 1090 from May. The 1090 should be OK for the 3 Cal States he wants to apply to since they are less competitive and he has a good GPA (3.66 UW). He is worried he won’t have any option but community college, which we have said is fine, but not what he wants.

He was near tears when he came home today and just felt very defeated and frustrated. I’m not sure what else to tell him aside from practicing online for the next 6 weeks. He has access to the Kaplan online system for another 90 days and then also the Khan online website through College Board. He is scoring better in the English than Math, and it’s almost like he’s forgotten a lot of his earlier Algebra. He was in Stats this past year which is not that helpful for the SAT.

@thedreamydaisy Your results may vary obviously, but just wanted to chime in and say that both my kids did Kaplan and all of their practice scores administered in class were FAR lower than their actual results. I have heard this is common with Kaplan to justify the class and point jump–but it did work for us (x2). Good luck to your son.

We used an in-person test help service. The course started about eight weeks prior to an SAT-ACT test date; the students met in small groups (4-6 kids) for eight 4-hour Sunday night sessions, in a classroom setting, to do practice tests (to put it plainly). The practice tests were all printed on paper and can be taken home; the instructors gave some tips on test taking, but not much. Two sets of these tests were timed just like the real ones. I don’t have experience with online test services at all, but I suspect that they are not as effective as the in-person help. Taking group test practices in a classroom-like setting simulates the test environment and prepares one’s brain for the real situation, whereas online practice in one’s room does not. Doing the tests on paper is very different than clicking buttons on the screen.

Perhaps try practicing the timed-tests with fellow students in a classroom or in a study room in the library, and hold each other accountable (no bathroom breaks, no snacks, no music, no earbuds).

@zipstermom I didn’t even think of that but it makes so much sense and is very helpful - thanks!

I really think that everyone that is trying to manage 2 types of tests should focus on 1. SAT is more wordy - everywhere (English and Math) so if your kid is not a critical reader or gets easily tricked (like my youngest) …they should focus on ACT. ACT is way more time constrainted, so if that is a huge issue, focus on SAT. Both tests can be learned… They have to KNOW IT, what types of questions, why they got each question wrong, etc. I really don’t think switching tutors or these Magic online tutors are going to be the make-or-break. Honestly if they do 1 subsection per day (out of the 4 on each test) and spend the time reviewing why they got things wrong, that is what really helps .

I am just a parent like all of you but I was able to coach my kids with basically just the books and online ACT prep and Khan (initially, for my eldest when he was trying to figure out which test works for him). My D prepped a lot. 4-5 hours a week for about a month last summer, then maybe 1 hour a month through the fall, and then 3 hours a week for 3 weeks over Christmas break. She went from a 27 pre-ACT to a 29 ACT in February to a 32 ACT in April (she went back to 3 hours a week for 2 weeks in March - only focusing on Math and Science which were her weaker scores and most teachable). Superscore 33. We used tons of released tests that are available online. Just the sections that needed work - she was naturally great at the grammar, so never touched that one except in a final full practice test.

My last strategy is my own and I’ve never read about it anywhere, but I believe it- take whichever test you’ve decided is the best one (SAT or ACT) in consecutive sittings. Feb/April/June or June/August/October. Don’t skip. Why? The curve changes with every sitting and I’ve noticed that the usually follow a tough curve on one section with an easier curve on the same section in vice versa. I feel like the easy tests (with tough curves, probably like this June SAT) are much harder because if your kid makes a few stupid mistakes, they lose a ton of points. If they take it consecutively, they have a better chance of getting a different hard section from the previous time they took it, so could end up with a more favorable superscore.

Good luck!

Some of you are new-ish on CC and I want to mention this. On CC, longer term posters often advocate letting kids be kids, not making college goals overtake their lives, activities overload them and all of it shred their well-being, including confidence. I worry when I hear kids are spending, eg, 3 hours/day (plus reviews at home?)

There are kids aiming for tippy tops who thrive on multi-tasking, but that’s just them. I understand, eg, that for many families, costs matter, that merit money is essential or that WUE discount at UNR. But the kids shouldn’t suffer through the process. They shouldn’t break. And we parents are supposed to be their first line of defense, the ones who pull them back when it’s too much. They have lots of growing yet to do.

@lookingforward thanks for being the voice of reason! My husband and I just had a chat with our son about his SAT prep. We have told him that if he doesn’t improve over May that is OK and he will still have some options come decision day. He will continue some online practice after his class ends this Friday, but probably only an hour or so a week. And the August test will be his last regardless of the result. If UN Reno is not doable without WUE, then so be it. Right now Sonoma State is top on his list anyway and their average SAT is a 1040 which he has already surpassed by 50 points. He is feeling more relaxed this evening just knowing that we are proud of him no matter what.

Big hug to you and DH, @thedreamydaisy.
I know it’s hard.

UWorld can help with the math and Khan academy really work to bring up scores. Practicing past tests within the time limits could also help.

My son did Princeton as well as Khan academy tests in addition to some private classes for English and Math. He’s scored 1520 in first attempt for SAT. So, I am positive he got a better direction from the private classes and also got used to pattern of questions by doing multiple tests on Princeton review and Khan academy. Now, we aren’t sure whether he need to take SAT again aiming higher score or better to focus on gpa and focus on AP courses during junior and senior years.

“But the kids shouldn’t suffer through the process…”
This might be a pretty good summary of my biggest concern with the entire college application process in the US. We put our kids through too much stress.

I hope that the retake went better. I was torn reading this thread whether to mention that D1 had good luck with tutoring at a very small local outfit (I think that the entire company had three employees), or to point out that there are many very good SAT optional schools. One daughter had high SAT scores but only applied to SAT optional schools. This was simply because that is where she wanted to apply.

UN Reno lowered their WUE requirements to ONLY ONE of the following qualifications:

3.25 unweighted cumulative grade point average (GPA)
24 ACT Composite (must come from a single test administration)
1160 SAT (must come from a single test administration)


@Gregmacd thanks for that info! I believe my S20 has pretty much decided on the community college route at this point (although he has applied to 3 Cal State schools close to home). Ultimately, he’ll likely try to transfer into a UC school.

The students I know who have cracked the SAT hired a private tutor and prepped for a few months. Not all tutors are the same. Ask around. You will be able to find out who in your area gets results. I don’t hear the same results from the prep classes.

Yes, this happens often. Although there is a correlation between the ST and PSAT, it is not exact. Yes, you can even go DOWN in the results.
The scores are really indicative of a range and if your tester happens to get a score that is top of his range, a retest might come out at the bottom. No, you do not necessarily improve each time you take the test.

If your student has already taken test prep for the SAT and done first diligence, the next step is to get Avery skilled experienced tutor to hone in in your student’s weak points rather than doing a whole re do of test prep. That is the most effective way to raise test scores once the student already is well familiar with the test and has practiced More practice tests after winning on targeted weaknesses should follow.

Despite that, there are students who are not likely to raise those test scores. I’ve seen many sad cases of tiger moms berating their kids who just could not deliver and the results are sad when that happens. That’s not covered in the Tiger Mom manual.

Of my many kids, one had a long terrible way to go to bring up test scores to next level. SAT below 1000. Yeah. Good student. Knew how the test worked. But a very slower worker. I placed him in a test prep center that has a top rep and they felt he had LDs. I discussed situation with him and we went test optional with schools and also explored schools ghat were more interested in his grades and courses taken. He got into his top choice school and most all of his others and was a very happy guy senior year who enjoyed that last year of highschool enormously instead of stressing out about his low test scores. To this day , he is grateful that there was no push to go into the salt mines to try to significantly raise his score