Disappointing SAT results

My daughter just received her SAT score from June 1st and scored a 1320. This is an improvement over her baseline score of 1200 from sophomore year, but nowhere near what we expected and hoped for going into Senior year. She took the PSAT with her school last October, as a junior and scored a 1310 with barely any Algebra II under her belt, although she has since completed the course with a high ‘A.’ We were expecting at least a 1400 on the SAT, possibly higher, and she needed this to be eligible for merit-based scholarships at her top-choice universities. There is also concern that she might not get accepted at all, at least to the one university she was leaning towards. I am dumfounded by her score. If a 1310 on the PSAT should translate into roughly a 1310 (or higher) on the SAT, in OCTOBER, before she has even completed Algebra II, how is it she can score only a 1320 eight months later? She also joined a ACT/SAT preparation club at school, so this wasn’t due to lack of practice. I should add, she scored a 720 on the Reading/Writing portion. She only scored a 600 on the Math portion, which is what pulled her down. Her SAT Math score was also 30 points lower than her PSAT score. She is due to re-take the ACT Saturday (Her baseline score was a 30 in March). Should I just ignore her SAT scores and focus on the ACT?

PSAT scores have no translation into SAT scores. The SAT is a harder exam.

a 600 on the math portion after taking Algebra 2 is interesting…how does she fare on the practice tests? Is she consistently getting 600, or was the test day just an outlier? If so, retake.

My daughter is in the same boat and in the middle of a meltdown at the moment. She spent hours on math prep and we paid for a tutor for a 10 point gain.

Doesnt matter what you think things should translate to. It’s a test, on Its own, not a recalculation of the PSAT.

“Should I just ignore her SAT scores and focus on the ACT?” Your daughter has 72 hours til Saturday. Of course she should use it wisely.

Scoring well on the ACT relies on speed. There is still time for her to practice and practice on getting through all the questions within the allotted test periods, before her test on this Saturday. For the science section of the ACT, my son said that he read the questions first, then the graphs (if any), and then paragraph (if he needed to).

^^ but ACT math is a LOT more straightforward than SAT math. SAT problems are just different.

She has taken the ACT once and scored a 30. She also did better in the Math portion on the ACT than the SAT. The thing that brought her down with the ACT was that she spent too much time making absolutely certain each answer was correct and ended up not answering enough of them. I have a feeling that’s what happened with the SAT. She is a straight A student and scores well on the state tests, even in Math. The SAT results just came in this morning. We didn’t get to talk much this morning as she was headed to her summer internship that her school requires for graduation.

In your daughter’s practice ACT test runs, has she been aiming to finish all the questions of each section within the allotted time? She just needs to convince herself that she already knows the test materials, as evidenced by her grades and state tests, and that the first answers she sees are (usually) correct. This is just a bump on the road of college admission; I hope that she is not discouraged or too frustrated.

Lol I used to have that issue in math tests/competitions as well—I would spend too much time dwelling on whether or not I got the answer exactly. With multiple choice, she has to get into the habit of just moving on once she finds an answer. There’s always time to go back and check answers. The points she gains from answering more questions will certainly be greater than tediously checking over her answers.

We are in the same boat. This June test was a joke. My daughter is a fantastic student. She has been working with a private tutor for 4 months, worked her way through the entire college board blue review book, did all 8 practice tests and went up only 10 points. I am considering one of these online prep companies that guarantees score improvement. Does anyone have any experience with any of them and did they get the desired results. Obviously the private tutor we used was useless and expensive!

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!