HELP! Not Meeting SAT Bright Futures

Dear UnMazed:

My daughter is creeping along slowly in her SAT attempts, this was her third attempt and each time she goes up by 30 points. She is so close to the SAT required for Florida Medallion and is miles ahead in her GPA and Service Hours, she simply doesn't test well. If there is any the multiple choice is back and she needs , you guessed it, another 30 points to qualify. Since the verdict is still out on the essay results I was wondering if there is any opportunity to raise her aggregate score? Seems ceremonial to me in my research.


Dear Shelley-

Great question, and one I receive quite frequently. With the added pressure of the the Florida Bright Futures levels that provides an annual scholarship of around $3,500-6,500 for 4 years, the cost savings to families is exponential when students are eligible. But as many families find sometimes making that cut is difficult, and adds a lot of pressure on students who are already feeling overwhelmed.

Here are a few key things to know and ways to potential get that score.

  1. The biggest thing I tell parents is that the test is SuperScored- meaning they take the highest score from each section from various test sittings. If your daughter is scoring low in Math, then on the next testing round, solely focus on knocking out the Math and put less focus on Reading and Writing. Now there is no need to “Christmas Tree” the other two sections, just focus on the areas she can increase her score the most. This approach has helped many students earn the scores they need.

  2. You have until June of your senior year to get the score. This means your daughter has plenty of time to retake the test for the scores.

  3. Change study habits- if you are seeing very little change from score to score, then it is time to reconsider how and when she studies. Use programs such as Khan Academy, rent books from the library, buy online practice programs, download apps, and so forth. Have an honest conversation about her studying habits for this test and see what areas she can improve on. Make a plan on attacking it by herself- how much time per day/ week can she devote to studying? What does she feel the most frustrated by? What program seems to work well with her?

  4. Hire an individual tutor- ACT & SAT tutors can be costly, but their knowledge of the tests and the best test taking strategies for your daughter’s learning style is key. Note- just because they are expensive does not mean they are good. Ask around, ask for recommendations, and be sure it feels right to your daughter. If you don’t see the gains you need, seek someone else.

  5. Try the other test- She tried SAT- how about trying the ACT? Each tests measures academic performance differently. While some of the new changes have made them a bit more similar, try mixing it up and taking the other test and see if that is a better fit for her.

  6. Don’t give up- I know it’s frustrating for her, but with 6 months left to go for a potential $28,000 scholarship- I would keep trying until you cannot go any further.

  7. Don’t waste time on the essay- the essay is not calculated as part of the overall composite score. Many universities, including ALL the public Florida universities, don’t even require it. Don’t waste your time or money on the essay portion.

Best of luck to her! She sounds like a great kid! As a reminder parents- it is best to remind your student they are more than a test score. Her hard work, dedication to her academics and volunteering, is all part of who she is and that is what will dictate where she will go in life- not a score on a test.

Dr. Amanda Sterk, Senior Editor of UnMazed Magazine