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Question #10:
  • My son recently took the SAT I and did not do well (800 combined). In contrast, he did better on the PSAT (over 1,000) and is in honors courses. What should he do to improve his scores? (courtesy Ken Caputo, Somerset, NJ)
Answer #10:
  • Sometimes an attentional problem or difficulty with the structure of the test can cause a generally good student to perform below average. You might want to consider having your son tested for a learning disability. Some very bright kids simply cannot make sense of certain testing formats or need extended time. If there is a discrepancy between his academic work and his SAT scores, it is well worth investigating. You should also consider hiring a private tutor for your son, because for some people, it is very difficult to learn in a group. He might also find it helpful to use a computer program to review for the SAT.
    Since the format is fairly similar from test to test, the more he practices, the better he will do. He might also be the type of learner who does better on the ACT, which is accepted by almost all colleges. Have him take a practice ACT (from a test prep book) to see if it is more compatible with his learning style. Make sure that your son is familiar with the format and structure of the tests he takes, and be certain that he has ways of handling test anxiety and distractibility.
    Although it is predicted that most students will increase their scores from the PSAT to the SAT, it is not unusual to see scores drop. The PSAT is shorter, requires less concentration and attention, and is based on material which is not as demanding. If you request the question and answer form from your son's PSAT and his SAT I (if it is available), you can see where he had trouble and whether or not he was able to complete every section.
    You can find a listing of test prep books and CD-ROMS available on the Internet and compare their prices, on the EDUFAX site.
    EDUFAX provides services for the
    Collegebound Learning Disabled Student.

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