Received sketchy PSAT scores going into the SLP application, am I still competitive?

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by 160thWannabe, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. 160thWannabe

    160thWannabe Member

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    Alright, so I've wanted to go to West Point since the 8th grade and I'm doing my best to be competitive. My confidence took a blow when I saw my PSAT scores: 59 in critical reading, 54 in mathematics, 62 in writing skills. According to this website, (http://www.west-point.org/academy/malo-wa/educators/SLS.html) I should have gotten a 62 in verbal and math in order to be competitive. Is this a sign that I'm not doing enough to get in? I mean, I'm excelling in other areas. I have straight A's, Honors and AP classes, two varsity letters, almost done with my Eagle Scout rank, and so on. I'm not trying to be all whining and complaining here, and I'm not looking to be consoled. I'd just like to know how I stand, and this forum certainly seems like the place to find that out. I'm willing to provide more information about my academic/physical/extra-curricular standing if it would be helpful.

    Thanks guys
     
  2. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    Don't think of those scores as a bar, think of them as a starting point.
     
  3. 160thWannabe

    160thWannabe Member

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    That's a good point. The way I see it is if I get accepted into SLP, great, I'm on the right track. If I don't get into SLP, it shows that I need to step it up if I want to be admitted into the Academy. Either way, I see SLP as an opportunity to reflect on how I'm doing and what I need to do in order to be accepted.
     
  4. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Yes, West-Point.org is full of all sorts of information, however, they are not an official site of West Point. Stick with the information provided by West Point Admissions.
     
  5. stella

    stella Member

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    PSAT not the end all...

    I agree with the above. At this point, you should be registering to take the SAT and ACT, seeing how you do, deciding what areas you need to improve upon, etc. PSAT is just a start.
    Also, our understanding is that Summer Leadership does not make or break your admissions. It is great to get in, but does not guarentee admissions into the academy at all. On the other side, not getting in should not dash your hopes. They simply cannot take all qualified candidates in the Summer Leadership.

    S
     
  6. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    I dont want to puff you up here but about this time last year I posted a woe-is-my-son post about his awful act scores. His lowest set of act scores did not put him in the running for anything. My second son's profile, while different (lower scores in opposite area) were similar overall. As I do educational testing/diagnosing for a living I knew that there isnt much wiggle room for cognitive assessments. Later at a professional conference I was at a breakout session with a research/policy exec from ACT, and learned that in fact there is alot of wiggle room particularly within subsections of the ACT, as the ACT is not a cognitive assessment. Without getting into lengthy discussion as to validity and reliability of scores, it is safe to say you can move individual subsection scores within the ACT, BUT it takes a lot of time, effort and some expense (retaking the test).

    The best resource that I have found is The Princeton Review's Cracking the ACT, particularly for English and Math. You can really go through this page by page on your own. You can get the book used as long as it is within the past few years. The Reading section will only take you so far and the rest has to be you R*E*A*D*I*N*G!!!!!! Go to your English teacher in highschool for a booklist. Someone posted one on this forum a while back. But supplemental reading is really the way to bring up that score. The science section -I have never figured out how to master that. My two sons have taken the ACT a combined ~10 times and neither have gotten over a 30 in the science section though they are in honors and AP science classes. I suggest going to your science teacher for help here as well.

    The good news you have a year until the last ACT that counts! That doesn't mean to put it off, that means to start now.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

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    So my kid got scores like yours which prevented him from getting into SLS which crushed him. What it did do was refocus his energy into studying, SAT prep, ACT prep and the other things that got him into WP. He is now a Yuk and a starman. It can be done.
     
  8. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    If you "have straight A's, Honors and AP classes" and only gotten 54 in Math and 59 in CR, there is an issue. High Schools, for the most part, are in the business of running kids through the system and out the door. If you're lucky, your teachers are trying to prepare you for college. What they don't do is prepare you for college entrance exams. Therefore, you and your parents need to figure out the disconnect between the PSAT and your grades. Don't freak out, but do it soon.

    Both my sons smoked the Math SAT, but had problems with Verbal. We used a private tutor for each, spending about $30-40/hour for 6-8 hours. BTW, we didn't pay the tutor to watch them take the tests. He taught them the techniques which they employed while taking the tests at home. He then analyzed the results with them looking for consistent weaknesses, most of which were correctable.

    I wouldn't even attempt to pinpoint your issue. In both sons' cases, it was intimidation by and dislike of the Verbal section feeding off of each other. Once they learned the "tricks", it became more of a game. You seem like a bright kid who has never been instructed on how to take these tests. There are strategies for test taking, but also tactics for standardized tests. The SAT and ACT even have their own individual peculiarities. There is a specific way to read each question. There are tricks and tactics which allow you to eliminate possible answers almost without reading the question. The tactics are few and they are simple. You learn the skills and then employ them with practice tests. After doing that, you will walk into the test looser and with greater confidence.

    Whatever you do, don't simply grind through endless practice tests. You'll only frustrate yourself. The best athletes arrive at the game with confidence based an attention to detail during practices which he/she made meaningful. I know it sounds cheesy and I am totally unqualified to say so, but I assume the same applies to a soldier arriving at the battlefield.

    Best of luck.
     
  9. 160thWannabe

    160thWannabe Member

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    I wish I had known that before-hand. I had taken the practice-PSAT which came in the little study packet and received an average of 59 or 60. I went into the test expecting to do better and I came out worse. So it sounds like I just need to put more time into entrance exam prep, something I hadn't done for the PSAT at all.

    So yeah, I'll definitely focus more on the tips and tactics of test taking and I'll see if I can turn this into a positive, motivational experience.
     
  10. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    wannabe,

    Try to find a good private tutor with references. Prep classes spend too much time taking tests which you can do at home.

    Your scores are low enough to be considered borderline, so you should really take this seriously.

    Again, best of luck. You won't be the first or last to raise your scores markedly if you approach the problem the right way.
     
  11. rudyinok

    rudyinok Member

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    this probably sounds silly, but any suggestions on how to find a tutor of the type you all are describing?

    we are pretty rural, btw...
     
  12. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    There are alot and I mean A LOT of test prep scammers out there! If you have the drive and perseverance you can do alot of prep on your own with the Princeton review guide. If you signed up for the expensive prep classes through Princeton review they just follow that book. Also be careful of the places that promise money back guarantees. The fine print on those is ridiculous. Start off by simply asking your teachers for test prep help. Explain to them why and what your goals are (to serve) you may be surprised how they are willing and eager to help you. If you travel through these threads from the past you will also find a lot of great tips.
     
  13. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    There are online options, with a live instructor. It is most important to get the right one. I would start by finding someone you know and respect who has used a tutor and gotten good results. Or if anyone who know has taken a class, ask the teacher if there would be a chance to do it online with you one one one.

    I know a home schooler in town who did three years of Russian online, so I know test prep should be available as well.

    I am not saying that a class is a waste, but rather that one on one with the right person can be more efficient.

    My older DS got 70+ on PSAT and 700+ on SAT math first time, but barely cracked 60 and 600 on critical reading. The tutor gave him one practice test, saw the patterns of weakness and said that he would only work on critical reading, that he would screw up the math score. In the end, the tricks and tactics he learned for Critical reading were also applicable to math, and that score also improved.

    If you hit a deadend, don't hesitate to send me a PM.
     
  14. GoArmyBeatNavy

    GoArmyBeatNavy Member

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  15. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 Member

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    Hi I'm also a prospective applicant for the class of 2018.

    I don't know what sort of oppourtinities your school has, but if you find the right program then you will likely see results.

    I took a PSAT prep class for a week over the summer taught by retired teachers at my school and I raised my total score by 23 points. I believe it was $300 for 5 days at 5ish hours a day plus three prep books.

    So it is possible to see big improvement.

    Obviously you won't take the PSAT again (you can't) but the SAT and the PSAT are pretty similar. The writing is the easiest to bring up because it's basically just applying rule X to sentence Y, and many times the only reason people do poorly is because they don't know their grammatical rules.

    Reading, unfortunately, is the hardest to bring up, it will take a lot of time and practice. You didn't say which specific AP classes you have taken/are taking, but if you take AP English Lit you will (at least at my school) spend TONS of time taking practice multiple choice reading tests.

    Vista,
    I too had a fair amount of trouble with the science section on the ACT, I think I got a 26 on that section the first couple times I took it. I figured out that the science section really has nothing at all to do with science but is really just a measure of critical reading skills. They want to know if you can analyze information off of graphs and charts. The last time I took the ACT I was advised to not even read the introduction for each experiment, but I focus only on the graphs/charts and answer the questions. My section score went up to a 32, so apparently that strategy worked.
     
  16. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Khan Academy is a good thing. I didn't know they do test prep.
     
  17. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    for whatever reason it's not uncommon for PSAT's to be significantly lower than SAT performance. We've seen this in every one of our kid's scores.

    The best thing to do is go ahead and get SAT's scheduled and get those scores to the RC for your area.

    I'd also be working your resume, get it to your RC and ask for candid input on ways to improve.

    I'll tell you it's possible to be rejected 1st round on SLS and be added later based on demonstrating initiative. Our 2015 he was initially rejected for SLS based on PSAT but ended up attending SLS, NASS, and USAFA SL programs. And ended up with an LOA at USMA, his first choice.

    Independent of SLS, studying for and improving your SAT's is one of your best methods to improve your competitiveness. In DS's case, his non-competitive PSAT moved to a 1200'ish SAT initially. And through study and prep, he ended up with exceeding the 700/700 math/reading range to get on the USMA "scholar" radar

    DS used the Kaplan CD based program, and used both the programs and the study guides. I might have paid $30, it was cheap! There are some very basic things that made a big difference. Ex: They stressed to cover up the answers until after you have read the whole problem. There are now trick answers that look good if you only read the first bit of the problem, but if you read to the end are clearly not correct. That single item alone resulted in a 100 point math/reading improvement for DS.

    And remember, you are not competing to get into SLS, you are competing for an appointment!!!
     
  18. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    How timely; just got #3's SAT scores today. He went into the test w/ out any prep...just wanted to see what he could do. What I learned w/ the other 2 sons: 1. You can bring up reading by studying--plenty of studying. You might try downloading Rock the SAT on your iPod...that will give you 200+ new words. 2. Get this book for math prep: Up Your Score. It's written by a group of students who made 1600 (MA + CR). Lots of great hints to "beat" the test. 3. work practice tests like crazy. Look up the words you don't know (after scoring) to add them to your vocab. #3 will be doing these things before he takes the SAT again. His brother was a recruited athlete, so his SAT was not so critical...but if this guy is going to get in, he's going to have to improve significantly. Fortunately for both him and you, there's plenty of time. :thumb:
     

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