College Admissions: 5 Fixes for Low SATs
Monday, October 24, 2011
Test prep works
Studies have proven that SAT prep does raise scores. However, sitting in a large class once a week isn’t a silver bullet. You need to study outside of class and do the practice tests. Students who do work on their own in addition to a program see the highest bumps in scores. Also consider private tutoring to address some of your individual deficiencies in areas like vocabulary, geometry or algebra. Baron’s, Princeton Review and The Collegeboard publish great books with strategies and practice tests.
Consider “Fairtest” colleges
Look for colleges with lower SAT ranges
Not every college requires high SAT or ACT scores for admission. If your scores are low and you can’t find SAT optional colleges that you like, it’s time to look at colleges with a reasonable “mid 50% SAT/ACT range”. Web sites like www.collegedata.com and www.collegeboard.com provide this information for each school.
Explain low scores on your application
The Common Application has a section that allows students to elaborate on anything that may be important for an admissions committee to consider concerning their academic or personal history. If standardized testing is not your strong suit due to nerves, a learning difference or some other factor, this is the place to explain that. It probably won’t help you get into Yale with 500s, but it’s worth a try at some schools.
Consider the ACT
It started in the Midwest and West, but the ACT has been gaining popularity fast on the east coast. It is accepted at ALL 4-year colleges in the U.S., and in some cases counts for both the SAT and SAT II Subject Tests. It is based more on your coursework vs. aptitude, and can often be a better test for students who do well academically but have difficulty with standardized tests. Because it has less vocabulary, it can also be a wise choice for students who struggle with the Critical Reading section of the SAT. You can find more info and test dates at www.act.org.
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.
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