SAT/ACT Troubles

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by ThunderBird33, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. ThunderBird33

    ThunderBird33 New Member

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    Hello, all!

    So I got my SAT scores back today. I am a junior in high school at the moment and took the SAT for the first time in December. I got my scores back and they were devastatingly low (1540). I am in honors and AP classes with only have 4 b's and all a's my high school career so this score was shocking. I'm so stressed out and in a huge dilemma. I'm signed up to take the January SAT but I feel like there's no way I can raise my scores to USAFA standards in a month... And I really don't want to take the new SAT for various reasons. So I should I just take the ACT? because that isn't changing so I can always study and retake it as many times as I want. I'm just really upset and disappointed in myself because I know I can do better. Any advice?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. aka1998

    aka1998 USAFA 2020 appointee

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    Have you taken practice tests? The first time I took a practice test, I got a 1200. After taking the real thing 4 times, I got a 1990. Practice practice practice! It pays off, I just received a waiver and LOA from USAFA. It is a very teachable test you just have to be willing to put in the time.
     
  3. ThunderBird33

    ThunderBird33 New Member

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    I'll definitely do that. I didn't do it before. I'm really gonna buckle down and spend this entire month and my winter break studying. Thank you!
     
  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    There are tons of online resources to aid in improving. Really take a look at sites that provide techniques and methods. If your family can afford it, research options for tutoring. Also, relax. Don't let test anxiety crush you. Take the ACT too, some do better on it than the SAT and the other way around.
     
  5. catlover2

    catlover2 Member

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    You will be fine just study and do practice tests. I was in the same scenario, my first SAT was a 1550 and I was shocked because the test seemed so easy. I would also do the ACT because most do way better on it. I wish that I would have taken the ACT/ SAT as early as you have when I was getting ready to apply. I didn't take it until April of my junior year and I never thought I would have enough tries to raise my scores. Even if you're scores aren't where you want them to be in January you will most likely have some killer scores by the end of the school year which will put you ahead of the game because everyone will be stressing and taking the test in the summer and you'll be done with that aspect hopefully. Don't get discouraged, the third time is usually the charm for most people! If you want I have some ACT/SAT prep books sent to me from USMA that I could send to you since I no longer need them!?
     
  6. aka1998

    aka1998 USAFA 2020 appointee

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    No problem! Also look into the ACT. If you put in the work, the results will astonish you. Hope to see you as a fellow cadet in the near future!
     
  7. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    Definitely try the ACT. It suits some people much better. The ACT really fits me much better because it is extremely light on vocab, and my vocab is horrible. Maybe the same is true for you and there are things on the SAT that you struggle at that rarely/never appear on the ACT.

    For me, the most effective ways to increase my score were taking real SAT/ACT tests that had been administered in the past and going over the questions that I missed.

    Also, there is a list of every single type of math question that can possibly show up on the ACT/SAT. If you learn every single concept that can possibly show up on the test(there really are not that many concepts that can show up), the only way you can miss a math question is by making a careless mistake.
     
  8. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I suggest taking the ACT, and retaking it as many times as you can, for several reasons. One distinguishing characteristic of the SAT, as compared to the ACT, is the vocabulary. In the case of my son, we live in a rural area, and the percentage of college graduates is relatively low. I really think that vocabulary is tougher for kids in lower educational demographic areas, and I know that was the area he found most difficult on the SAT. He did great in math, but very average in verbal.

    What I think is the most relevant difference between the exams to an academy candidate, however, is that the ACT is so clearly broken down into four subsections; Math, English, Reading, and Science. This, combined with the fact that the service academies super-score, means you can keep taking the exam, without penalty, and any time you improve in any category, even if you do terrible on other categories, your super-score goes up. I understand this is also true with the SAT, but it basically only has two sections, with English, science and reading essentially combined in the one section. With the ACT you can focus on one or two areas, and boost those sections; or even get lucky on a particular subject where a line of questions suits you particularly well.

    My son has taken the ACT four times, and hasn't had a composite higher than 31, but as of 1am this morning when he got his final ACT score, has high sub scores of Math 34, English 31, Science 34, and Reading 30. He has always been great at math, and he worked hard on practicing English, and to some extent Math sections. Those sections have improved slightly almost every test. He has always hated the Reading and Science sections of the ACT, and hoped to manage a 28-29 on those sections when he started taking the ACT. but his second ACT he got a 30 on science and a 29 on reading, which he was elated with, so basically he only studied/practiced Math and English after that. However, after taking the October 2015 ACT, and thinking he did miserably on both, he got a 34 on science, and 30 on reading. He still has no idea how he got those scores, and chalks it up to luck.

    The ACT gives an academy applicant a better opportunity to improve on certain subsections, and take advantage of the super-score format, than the SAT. At a minimum, I would try taking it at least twice.
     
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  9. ThunderBird33

    ThunderBird33 New Member

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    Thank you all so much. You've definitely helped! I plan to take the ACT and I'm going to do a lot of practice tests. Thanks again to everyone who helped!
     
  10. Mountain

    Mountain Member

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    An left field question...

    If there are ways to "aid in improving", doesn't it either defeat the purpose of the test or give some a way to game the system. In my opinion, this makes both the ACT and SAT terrible measures of a student's ability to succeed. If you can spend time "learning" how to do better on a standardized test, is it standardized at all? If I pay for a program, or a tutor, is my kid actually more qualified?

    I'm not taking exception to your suggestion, but have a problem with the term standardization when, in reality, it is no such thing. Maybe that's why a ton of schools are moving away from placing much emphasis on ACT/SAT. People are gaming the system and that lacks honor. Without honor, what is the point?

    Take the test. Do your best. That's the point.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015
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  11. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    The test is called a standardized test, and the test itself is standardized.

    What is a better measure of a student's ability to succeed? GPA? Class rank? Those are even worse measurements as they are not standardized and you can hire tutors and whatnot to increase them just like you can with the SAT/ACT. There is no measurement of a student's capabilities that can eliminate the benefits of having good resources. Studies have been done and there is a strong correlation between student success and standardized test scores.

    I don't see how studying is "gaming the system" and lacks honor in any way shape or form. Does studying for a math test to improve your GPA lack honor? Is that gaming the system as well? How about working out so that you can get better CFA scores? Does that lack honor? If trying to improve your ACT/SAT scores lacks honor, any work done to improve your application lacks honor. Are you advocating that students should just show up in school, not do any studying, and make no effort to better themselves because that lacks honor? Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. Working hard is not gaming the system.

    What schools are moving away from the use of standardized tests?
     
  12. Mountain

    Mountain Member

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    Frenzy - I'm afraid you are defending at the extreme.

    I never stated that there is no merit in standardized tests, as long as the playing field is as equal as possible. Simply, they should be, and are, a measure to see where a student may be measured. If you buy a program and/or a tutor that another may not, it isn't standardized at all and borders on cheating the system. You are (hopefully) buying a better score. What's next? Having someone take it on your behalf?

    Gaming the ACT/SAT has grown into a big business. Big money! If that is your goal, go for it. If it can be bought, it isn't standardized at all, simply, it is for sale.

    If your son/daughter can sit for the test without "outside" advantage and get a 36 on the ACT (one of mine did), that is meaningful. If your son/daughter has to take pains to prepare for a standardized test (with a program or a tutor), to me, that is seeking an advantage and is in no way standardized at all. All you did is learn to take a test better and, to me, that lacks integrity. Gaming the system shows nothing about character, and that matters very much in SA's and in the eventual workplace. Maybe the "end justifies the means", but we will all pay for that in the long term.

    I am close to the Admissions Directors of several schools and they are well aware, and troubled, knowing the game being played. They have no way of knowing who may have had extra "sugar" in testing, and they know that contaminates the process. Fact is, a contaminated process is no process at all.

    If one can gain advantage (a few extra points) by a tutor, you have simply "bought" a few points. One would hope those who take great care to admit students may separate the wheat from the chaff. One must wonder...

    If my son/daughter had to gain such an advantage, he/she really isn't SA material.

    Take the tests. Do your best. Let the chips fall where they may and trust the process.
     
  13. brovol

    brovol Member

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    These are tests which can be studied for and scores tend to improve. Like any class in school or college, getting help from a tutor friend, family, teacher or anyone else who might be able to teach or explain something, or offer assistance as a study partner, is wise and is anything but dishonorable. Some schools superscore, some don't. Understand the rules and take advantage of the mechanisms which are permitted.
     
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  14. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    There is absolutely no dishonor in seeking out extra help, whether it is on the ACT/SAT or any other test.

    At USAFA the cadets are constantly told to seek out a tutor or attend EI if they want to improve their performance in a class. At UPT the top students are the ones who find a group on their weekends off and use the time to pick the brains of the other high achievers to improve their results on tests. Entire UPT classes study the "gouge" of the class before them to get better insight as to what is expected of their class.

    I do not buy the "holier than thou" attitude that says somehow a person who got no preparation for an exam somehow did "better" on it or that their score is more meaningful.

    Use every allowable resource possible to help your success.

    Stealth_81
     
  15. Mountain

    Mountain Member

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    "Take advantage" indeed. It's perfectly admirable to take time to prepare as long as the test, itself, remains standardized. Question is, does that effort skew the results? If it does, simply, it isn't standardized. Many seem buy the means to perform better from people who "know". In that case, the score is in no way a reflection of academics, rather its a flaw and opportunity that may be exploited. That isn't standardization.

    For true standardization, the tests should be taken without any finger on the scale. Then, results can be measured equally.

    If I "buy" my kid a few points, am I doing her any favors in the long run? In life?
     
  16. brovol

    brovol Member

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    By that same logic then, would you conclude it is cheating or gaming the system to run, workout and practice for the CFA? If you are out of shape your senior year should the academies pick a random time and just test you? Of course not.

    Some people are brilliant and academics come easy, just as some are naturally strong or fast physically. For those who don't have those natural gifts intellectually or physically, discipline, work ethic, and perseverance can make up the difference.

    I think the academies distinguish themselves from other high level schools, including the ivy's, because they look for the well rounded person with character. Not just the natural intellects. Those who work hard to achieve their goals display commitment make good officers and those characteristics which are looked at favorably by the solders they will eventually lead.
     
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  17. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    So you think that it isn't standardized because some kids have more resources than others? In that case, nothing is standardized. The game of basketball is not standardized. Yes, everyone gets 1 point for a free throw and everyone has to dribble to ball while they move, but some kids go to basketball camps and use other resources to get better. Therefore, the game of basketball is biased towards those that have resources. Some kids have access to basketball courts any time they please. Is it dishonorable to take advantage of this resource and practice basketball? If that is the case, anyone that's good at anything is dishonorable.

    Your daughter is dishonorable if she made any preparation for the ACT because she took advantage of a resource that not everyone has.

    EVERYTHING is biased towards those that have more resources. That doesn't mean nothing is standardized.
     
  18. brovol

    brovol Member

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    You tell me what standardization is then. A test that can be studied for disqualified it from your stamp of approval? I took the bar exam after law school. There were many concepts I learned well in law school and got A's on in class, but because of all the material you learn before graduation I knew a review course would increase my chances of doing well on the bar, so I paid money like most of my classmates, took the course, kicked the crap out of the exam, passed easy, and started practicng law before many others who knew they were smart enough to pass without the class and failed. Who seems smartest in the end?

    What's the standard for wisdom? We disagree I think.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015
  19. Mountain

    Mountain Member

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    Great question and great points!

    wrt the CFA, if you are horribly out of shape, you won't make the cut. A candidate is expected to be in good physical shape and of you aren't, you aren't SA material. If you really are a true couch potato and merely get in shape to take the test, you will do the SA's no favors and will likely wash out. Fact is, like standardizwed tests, you can't game the system forever.

    I have no problems with standardized tests as long as they are just that. To correlate, if you need a personal trainer to pass the CFA, I see trouble ahead for you.

    wrt standardized tests, if you game the system for benefit, I wonder how exactly will that make you a better leader in the military?
     
  20. Mountain

    Mountain Member

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    It's ok to disagree, my friend.

    If you seek advantage over others, with a finger somehow on the scale, that's advantage and not standardization.

    Never said it wasn't real or ok, just that it isn't standardized.
     

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