Hundreds of times I have heard the following from parents, “My child has a 90 plus average in High School, but she performs horribly on the SAT. She is just a bad test taker”. My reply, “How can she possibly have a 90 plus average, if she is a lousy test taker? Aren’t her grades based on quizzes, tests, and written essays?” “Well, they inevitably retort, “I mean she is a poor standardized test taker”
Ok, now I am going to be brutally honest. If your child is in the top 25% of his or her High School class but cannot crack the 50th percentile nationwide on the SAT or the ACT, then your child will struggle in college.
In 1972, the average Verbal score on the SAT was approximately 530. By 2017, the average verbal score had dropped to 495. During a similar period, the average High School GPA rose from 3.27 in 1998 to 3.38 in 2016.
How can this be? Two Words-Grade Inflation. Admissions officers are aware of rampant nationwide grade inflation. Grade Inflation dilutes the value of the High School transcript because there is no way for an admissions officer to compare a student in Iowa with a student in Long Island, NY who have similar G.P.A.’s. In order to account for grade inflation there must be some sort of standard apples to apples tie breaker. Hence, the reliance on standardized SAT and ACT scores.
So back to the original conundrum—how is it possible for all the students to excel in High School yet fail miserably on the SAT or ACT? The answer is-Reading!!! Students don’t read so they lack critical reading skills, poor vocabulary, poor command of grammar and poor comprehension. In the Passage Based Reading section, they don’t pick up the tone or mood of passage, they cannot read between the lines, and they cannot spot critical points of the thesis or main idea.
In Math, they are unable to problem solve complex word problems because they don’t understand what the problem is asking.
How does one get better at reading? Read, read, read. Read for fun, read something which interests you. Don’t sit there all-day texting and playing video games. Take an interest in something. Be consistent. Set aside 15 minutes per day and just read. Read with your pen. Make notes in the margins, underline things which interest you such as quotes, expert opinions, funny or sarcastic sentences. Be curious as you read. Ask questions such as “ wonder what its like to? What is the problem and how will it be solved? Why did the author write this?
It is never too late. Parents please encourage your children to develop a love for reading as early as possible in their lives. They will be forever in your debt.