On game day, athletes often struggle to perform as well as they do in practice. Similarly, students who have prepared well for the SAT or ACT often struggle to maximize their potential on test day. This was the situation in which one of my students found herself during the fall of senior year. So what do you do if you score really high on practice SAT tests but fail to reach the same level on test day when it really counts? Join me in this prepcast as I recount one not-so-unique story.
Real SAT Test Stories: Living Up to Your Potential (transcript)
I want to tell you a story about a girl I tutored years ago. This goes back to the days when the SAT only had two parts; math and verbal. I tutored the girl for both the verbal and the math and she excelled in the math section. Often times she would get through a test section under simulated conditions where she would get every answer right. She did this so often I was pretty convinced that she could get close to a perfect score. I ended up tutoring her through the whole summer; she went in and took a test in September and we had very high hopes. She came out with a score of a 680 at the time. We were a little disappointed but I said â€œDon’t worry about it maybe you just got nervous; it was a bad day it’s no big deal.â€ I told her â€œReview a little bit before the next test and go in and take it again.â€
She went in and took at test in October and received a 690. Again we were very disappointed and we couldn’t really find out what was going on. So we got together again before the next test and practiced and she ended up doing very well. She wound up going in November and she got a 700. At that point her parents told their daughter â€œYou’ve done a great job and you worked really hard, clearly you reached your peak and we are proud of you.â€ I think that is exactly what her parents should have said to her. We had very high hopes but she had gotten around the same score three times in a row and her parents just told her they loved and that they were very happy with her efforts. That’s when I got involved and I said to her â€œYour parents love you and they really care about you and I think they are saying the right thing.â€ I then said â€œWith all due respect I feel I know you better as an SAT student than they do and we both know that you can do better than a 700 based on what you have done and practiced with me.â€
I convinced her parents to let her take it one last time. I felt like you owe it to yourself to give it one last shot and if it doesn’t work out 700 is a good score and you will get in a good school so don’t worry about it. I talked to the parents and I said â€œI think she can do better, please just give her a chance to do it again.â€ I said to her â€œDon’t prepare for the last one, you’ve done well be relaxed and just go in and do the best that you can.â€ She went in and actually got an 800 and right now she is a junior at Dartmouth College.
The moral of this story is not to keep trying and eventually you will get an 800 because I don’t think that everybody can get an 800. The moral of the story is when you are practicing on your own and if your practicing with the college board test under simulated conditions and you are doing well and you go in and you take the SAT and you score significantly lower than you expected you owe it to yourself to keep trying until you get that score that you deserve. If you run out of time so be it. At least give it a shot so you don’t have that lingering thought in the back of your head of what if I could have gotten the score that I think I could have gotten.
Some people worry is it bad to take the test too many times. I don’t think so; I think you can go in and you keep working until you get the score that you deserve. I think if anything college admissions people will look at somebody who has taken it many times and finally done well as somebody who is willing to set goals and work at them and stick with it until they get what they want. It speaks volumes about the type of person you are and I think that is the type of people that colleges want to have. The kind of people who are willing to set goals and work with them and not give up if they meet something less than complete success the first time around.
Hopefully this little story will help you if you are a person who hasn’t gotten the score you think you deserve yet; keep trying eventually you will get there.