How to increase a 1490 score to 1550 or above?

My son got 1490 on SAT, 790 in Math and 700 in Reading + Writing. He wants to apply for computer science in some of the highly competitive schools. What can he do to increase his score to 1550+? Will some private tutoring help or more practice be enough? He used Khan academy for his practices. Do you have any recommendations to any practice books or courses that can help with the Reading + Writing sections?

My son had a hard time with the pace of the reading /writing section and a tutor showed him some tips /tricks to read it through faster like reading the answers first kinda thing. Also. Lots of Mathy kids don’t do great on this section…

It seems math is pretty much set. I’m not a professional tutor or anything, but I did get a 1580. For English, you need to just read books in general. Read anything from the Hunger Games to Locke’s 2nd Treatise on Civil Government. The College Panda writing book is great, know ALL the rules on there. For reading, just practice to build up intuition. The crux of the reading section is that the simplest answer as right: if you have to justify an answer to yourself, it probably is wrong.

Disclaimer, I am a test prep tutor. I personally think that investing in a few sessions of private tutoring is extremely helpful because a tutor can pinpoint where a student is having trouble.

So many people think they only need to work on the math section. They discover that isn’t the case. The best basic strategies for reading are to choose answers most closely related to the main idea and to eliminate. For English, always read for context. That means choosing a relevant answer that works with what comes before and after the sentence in question. Knowing punctuation usage is also very helpful.

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My son took last year august SAT and received 1470 (700E and 770M). He didn’t study much this past year and just a week before his October SAT (school day SAT) he prepared again from khan academy and received 1540 (790E and 750M). We were stunned. So, it’s possible with lots of self disciplined practices through khan academy and other SAT textbook resources. His super-score is 1560 :slight_smile:

My son increased his English score from 700 to 770 between August and November. He used the SAT Black Book and went through all the tips on reading. He’d read a passage, answer the questions, and then use the book to understand why his answers were right or wrong. He missed 11 reading questions in August and only 2 in November. His writing was -2 each time.

Reading in his spare time can help a lot. I guarantee my 790 in reading came from my hobby of reading and writing. I recommend he read whatever he likes (whether that be classics or modern stuff), as long as he genuinely enjoys it. He shouldn’t feel compelled to read just because of the SAT, but reading books can definitely help.

Aside from that, there are some good free resources for him to utilize. Go on reddit to r/Sat, that community is devoted to studying/tips for the test. Granted, people like to mess around (c’mon, it’s reddit), but there is some really helpful info when it comes to reading tips and grammar rules. I’ve heard Erica Meltzer’s (might’ve misspelled her name) SAT books are great. I’ve never used them but I’ve only heard glowing things.

Most importantly… do practice tests! There are a ton available and they are an invaluable resource to pinpoint exactly which areas need improvement.

I agree that a habit of reading is invaluable for many things in life but also for SAT prep. As for specific test prep, my son used PrepScholar. A 12 month subscription costs about $400 which is probably about as much as a few hours with a tutor. My son was scoring mid-1400s on practice tests in 10th grade, scored a 1580 in August before junior year after spending 25 hours in PrepScholar. He was also a NMSF so the $400 was a worthwhile investment. For him, the online course format was helpful because it provided practice that targeted his weak areas and didn’t bore him with material he had already mastered. Some kids need a private tutor, some can do it themselves with books and free resources. My son needed a little more direction than the self-study option but didn’t need the attention of a private tutor. Also, despite my pleading, he only did 1 practice test which was the pretest that determined his areas to study in the course. He just wasn’t interested in doing more. Instead he spent his time doing lessons on concepts that he felt needed practice, and it worked for him.

I think it really depends on the kid. Raising top scores to become even higher is more difficult than raising a normal (50%) score slightly.
Often it can be timing, or the student reads into too much ( thinks about it too deeply), or gets tricked by an easy question worded in a funny way. Practice makes perfect in many cases. But students need to know where their weaknesses lie. I think a tutor can be helpful if they can address and pinpoint what is needed.

D’s 1:1 tutor was very helpful for some time but at one point, she knew all the tricks. She improved a lot. The rest was individual practice.
I hope your son will reach his goal - but if not, please review all these threads “is X score good enough for Y College.” Well-informed responses for results in the 99% percentile were always “yes, good enough” - don’t waste your time trying to improve from 1520 to 1550, from ACT 34 to ACT 35.
YMMV but for us, her ACT34 was good enough for a place that last year admitted only 6% of female candidates.

first would be to see where your son got the questions wrong, if there is one section that stands out, that would make it easier to focus the preparation. The college board sends the questions and answers for most tests, but there is a fee, find out if you can do that, from the c/b website. That would help pinpointing where to focus.