March SAT scores are out today and I've heard almost exclusively good news from the students I've worked with. The smiles and laughter of children, they are like manna to me. I know, however, that score day is never a happy day for everyone. If your results today fell short of your expectations, here's some advice to help you avoid this feeling next time around.
- Don't panic. You have FIVE more chances to take the SAT before applications are due in the winter: May, June, October, November, December. Some seniors even get away with taking January. So you've got time.
- Don't sulk. Perhaps you've heard before that the best thing to do when thrown off a horse is to get right back on it. The same applies to the SAT. Feeling sorry for yourself won't help; focused and assiduous prep will. Take today to lick your wounds, and start working in earnest tomorrow.
- Set expectations. Most people will never score a 2400, and that's OK. Figure out the scores you need to be comfortable in applying to the schools you like best, and make those scores your goal. If you're having a hard time, check this post for more about how much you should be looking to improve.
- Develop a plan. Taking the test the same way you did last time will probably result in a very similar score, so just doing a bunch of practice tests isn't enough. You need to identify your weaknesses, and then focus on them to make them strengths. Start by doing a drill or two to help you identify weaknesses, like these ones!
- Execute it. Whether you plan to take a course, work with a tutor, or prepare on your own, the key to your success will be your own personal commitment to improving. Even if you take a course for a few hours a week, you won't see a huge improvement unless you also practice on your own. Today it felt crappy when you didn't get the score you wanted. Remember this crap feeling every time you're tempted, in the coming weeks, to blow off SAT prep. A huge improvement is possible, but only when accompanied by a huge commitment.