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Connecticut Students: Wondering what to do with your April 24th SAT Scores released on May 18th?



1. Understand Your Score Report

Here are the key scores every student should know:

Total Score: The overall score out of 1600. It’s the sum of your scores on both the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Math. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so your raw score is the sum of the number of questions you answered correctly.

Section Scores: Reading and Writing & Language make up the Verbal Section and account for 400 points each out of the section’s 800 total points. The Math test includes the entirety of the Math Section, accounting for all 800 points. Your focus should be on where your test scores fall on the red, yellow, and green graph. Scores in the yellow and red represent areas in which a student has not yet demonstrated proficiency, meaning that these are areas to focus on for future improvement.

Subscores: Represent the specific test content within Reading, Writing, and Math. They provide an in-depth look at your student’s performance and are particularly useful for making a test prep plan. For example: if your subscore falls within the red zone for a particular test – those are weaker areas that you need to practice.

Percentile Scores: Indicate how well you did in comparison to other test takers. For example: if you scored in the 64th percentile, you did better than 64% of other test takers.

2. Link Up your Scores to Khan Academy for Customized Practice

The College Board has hired Khan Academy to help students prepare for the SAT. If you send your scores to Khan Academy (there is a link right on your Score Report), Khan will customize your practice based on your error patterns. This is especially useful for math. Sal Khan is a math guy, and his videos and answer explanations for math continue to be instructive.

3. Center Your Practice On the Real Tests.

The big test prep companies do an excellent job with strategy, but they cannot mimic the actual tests. To prepare for future SATs correctly, you must practice with College Board tests #5 (May 2016 exam), #6 (April 2016 exam), and #7 (October 2016 exam) and #8 (January 2017 exam) available on the College Board website. There are additional tests available (May and October 2017 and March and May 2018); they are just not online yet. If you contact me, I will send them to you.

4. Understand the Question Being Asked.

Both my math colleague Jessica Reed Roach and I agree that the MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGY to increase your number of correct answers is to UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION BEING ASKED AND PROVIDE THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION. Also: always know what the question is asking before you look at the answers. Often, the SAT will give several incorrect answer choices that each could be correct if you’d misread the question in a particular way.

5. Identify your Error Patterns

Effective practice means identifying your challenge areas and focusing on skill strategy that helps you do better in those areas. Simply taking tests will not help you increase your score. Reviewing questions you got wrong is integral to effective test prep. Learning from your mistakes will help you break through a score ceiling and drastically improve your score. The trick is to not only know where you are making mistakes, but also to practice those same types of questions over and over until you have mastered them.

6. Use the Best SAT Resources to Supplement Authentic Practice.

My recommendations for individual experts in this field:

  • Erika Meltzer: The Critical Reader for SAT Reading and Writing.

  • Nielson Phu: The College Panda for SAT Writing and Math


There are also sites for information and resources beyond the “Big Three” – Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Revolution. These include Compass Prep, Powerscore, and Applerouth Tutoring. They provide free resources, and their blogs are often authentic and insightful.


Also: Testive and Summit Education Group have some impressive infographics! And, certainly, there are many other large tutoring companies that are very generous with their resources.

My favorite test prep company is a small, but a growing organization based out of Long Island: Method Test Prep:

I have started to utilize their software to supplement my test prep, and it has helped me to track student progress and ensure that students are practicing regularly. MTP videos and explanations are an excellent supplement to my hands-on learning approach

7. Understand What A Competitive SAT Score Is With Respect To Your GPA and College List.

Based on your college list, you will want to aim for a score within this 75th % (Average Score for 75% of accepted students.) You should aim for this number if you are applying regular decision. But, keep in mind that test scores are only one component of the admissions equation.

Your GPA is paramount to your candidacy as well.

8. Third Time’s a Charm!

Students always ask me: How many times should I take the Test? In my experience, the third time’s a charm. (It is sort of like a Goldilocks thing!) The first test is the “practice” test. The second test is for strategy practice to correct error patterns. And the final test culminates in the strongest scores based on additional practice to get the most difficult questions correct. It is just right!

Having said that, if you score well either in the math or reading/writing on an earlier test — you can always “superscore” the exam. This means that colleges will take your best verbal and best math score into consideration for college admissions — it doesn’t have to be from one test.

I think it is essential to understand that sometimes a student may do better on one test versus another over the course of a few months for a variety of reasons. That is why it is imperative to take the test a few times.

Below is an example of my son’s SAT scores over the course of four tests (including the in-school exam, which is not necessarily tested in the same way as the National Exams).


Connor’s scores increased 300 points from December 2017 to May 2018. But it took five months of practice. He needed to understand the format and function of the test, error patterns, test conditions, and strategy. But, most importantly, he had to practice A LOT!

The most important thing every student should know is that test prep is a process. To get top scores, you must practice with a deliberate understanding of your mistakes and how to correct them. And, you should take the test a few times to get your best overall score.

Questions? Feel Free to Contact me via my Website:



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