Before this post goes ugly, here's a tip: There are free online test-prep sites you can use, such as this one or this one.
But one-on-one coaching before the senior year is a gargantuan plus.
Higher scores are compulsory in an increasingly competitive environment. They’re also a great way to get more financial aid. Two examples:
1. A family's son missed out on an additional $6,000 per year - that’s $24,000 over 4 years - of free money because he was only 10 points shy of the college's next higher SAT threshold for additional aid. His score was 1090 (excluding the writing portion), but an 1100 score would have won him the extra money. Hiring a tutor to improve the student's verbal skills would have been a no-brainer.
2. A family's daughter was tutored privately, and her SAT scores went from 2070 to 2250. She was accepted at a college whose SAT average was below 2250. Her scores, as the college saw them, raised the school’s average, so the school saw this student as good window-dressing, that is, higher SAT-achieving students impress college-shopping parents. She was offered a scholarship for $12,000 per year - $48,000 in FREE money over 4 years. Hiring a private tutor at $200 per hour (read: Don’t go cheap.) was an incredible investment.
Tip #1: When asked why he robbed banks, the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton said, “That's where the money is.” A private school is where the money is. Apply to private, matching and safety schools for potentially more aid. These schools want better test-scoring students so that they can tell parents like you what a quality school they have for your mon--, er, little darling. These schools will bribe you with a more generous aid package.
Tip #2: Use higher SAT/ACT scores to apply to more selective schools who offer more aid. High test scores are no longer a distinguishing factor - they’re required. But just in case those rejection letters come in from first-choices, there can be lots of gold in those March award letters from schools with less stringent standards who really want your student for the purpose of improving their own image. Both student and college are marketing to each other.
When it comes to getting more financial aid, and because the college game is a huge business, getting into college or getting more financial aid begins with good marketing.
Tip #3: Colleges like the ACT because it’s better at measuring what you know. The SAT’s national average score is 1,000; the ACT’s national composite average is around 21. No matter what test you take, colleges will accept whatever test scores you want to send.
Not all schools require SAT scores. A religious-affiliated college issued a self-serving press release, stating it will no longer require SAT scores for admission. When I asked, "Why would a student submit standardized test scores if they don't have to?" Their answer: "A student might decide that his or her score gives a more complete picture of academic achievements and potential." Replace the word "student" with the word "college" and you have Truth in Advertising. So far, roughly 70% of applying students to such schools submit their SAT scores anyway. Talk about being competitive!
This school will use the SATs as the logical tie-breaker to award financial aid to highly competitive applicants.
Check this added whopper: “We have been concerned,” says the Catholic college in justifying the requirement, “about the inherent racial and socioeconomic bias in standardized testing...” Cynics will be watching for this college to announce the rejection of its religious affiliation because of its church's “inherent bias against atheists in standardized tests of faith.” It’s a typical elitist college using feel-good Ophra babble in their press release.
If these non-SAT schools were honest and forthright, they would require that students NOT submit their test scores. For stealth purposes their hypocrisy is astounding.
Marketing trumps truth.
For students who don’t test well, consider a smaller school that places more emphasis on grades than SAT/ACT scores.
____________ Copyright 2016 Paul Hemphill To discover what can be done for your child, start here.
My strategy has proven to give the student a far greater advantage in the admissions office because colleges place a premium on who you are, which is not easily recognized on a list of extracurricular activities, test scores, or application essays.
The greatest life-lesson your child will learn from working with me: Who you are will always triumph over what you know. Even in the admissions office.