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How Much Can Your SAT Score Improve? (2)

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By Paul Lim | Kaplan SAT & ACT Trainer

In the previous discussion, we talked about the range of scores that students can improve in their SAT.  As a reminder, the range is from 100 to 200+, out of a total of 1600.  This is something that is possible and has been proven over time to be accurate in my experience with students.  However, this improvement range still hinges on the current ability and attitude of the student and the effort that the student is willing to put into improvement.

Before we talk about these student-related factors, let us look at the difference in score improvements in the verbal section and the math section.  For most students, the verbal score is much more difficult to improve in the short-terms than the math score.  The reason for that should be obvious.  The verbal score tests language ability, and this ability is built up over a very long period of time – since early childhood.  If this language ability is not well-developed, it will take a very long time to remedy the situation.  Furthermore, vocabulary is also a big part of language ability, and vocabulary cannot be built up over-night.  But for math the situation is slightly different.  If the student’s math ability has been impaired because of certain learning obstacles, like not understanding of concepts, then these obstacles can be removed once they are exposed to ways in which concepts can be more easily understood.  Therefore, often times, I see many students are able to improve their math scores dramatically within a short period of time.

Now, for the most important question: How much can your score improve then?  Well, part of the answer depends on where is your score right now.  Let’s say out of a total score of 1600.  If your score is currently from 1000 to 1100, which is about the mean or average, then we can reasonably expect it to improve by 100+.  If your score is from 1100 to 1300, then this is the “sweet spot” of improvement.  Students in this range can usually improve by 150+.  However, if your current score is higher than 1300, then you can still improve by 100+.  It is important to note that these figures are based purely on experience and not on any scientific research.  The actual improvements can still vary. 

The second factor of improvement is how much effort the student is willing to put in.  This has something to do with the student’s attitude.  If the student is willing to work hard and follow instructions, the score improvements mentioned above are totally achievable.  But when I say “work hard,” some students may have a misconception.  By that, I don’t mean you have to work day and night on your SAT.  What I mean is that you need to put in consistent effort, not just do it one day and leave it aside for three days.  By “work hard,” I also mean that you have to work hard to understand and grasp the concepts, more than just memorizing the formulas or rules.  You also have to follow my instructions as to what exercises you need to do to overcome your weaknesses, rather than just blindly doing more exercises.  When working with students, I always see myself as more of a coach than a tutor.  As a coach, I will tell you what you need to work on.  I may also tell you what you need to eat and how much rest you need to get when these aspects of your personal life are affecting your learning.  In other words, I am planning and driving your improvement efforts, not you or your parents.

Some parents tend to think that they know more on how to improve SAT scores than I do.  This view is obviously misguided, but not uncommon.  Students who see me as a coach and heed my instructions and advice can see their scores soar to new heights that sometimes even surprises me.  Students who ignore my advice can see at most average improvements, or sometimes no improvement at all.  Therefore, the decision is yours, but the way to improvement has to come from me.

Mr. Paul Lim

Mr. Paul Lim

Kaplan SAT and ACT Trainer

MBA, National University of Singapore

B.Sc., Harvey Mudd College

TBE

TESOL

  • Over 15+ years of experience in teaching SAT and ACT
  • Graduated from a prestigious U.S. college
  • Proven record in helping students achieve a perfect subject section score of 800
  • Author of a book on effective learning strategies for mastering vocabulary

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