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Each year, students all over the country take the SAT as part of college 

entrance. Many receive scores substantially lower than desired or 

expected, indicating they struggled with the test. Parents and students 

often wonder what a reasonable score is. Students should strive for 

a minimum of 500 in each subject - WritingCritical Reading, and 

Math - resulting in a combined score of 1,500. Less than 500 in a  

subject means the student answered in correctly half of the questions.
Preparing for the SAT is very similar to preparing for a sporting 

event. In sports, the coach helps identify strengths and weakness, 

and encourages the athlete to constantly improve through repetition, 

critique, and focus. Athletes perform in the game the same actions 

they have been practicing. SAT preparation is no different. Students 

must identify weaknesses and then strengthen those weaknesses 

through repetition, critique, and focus. Students then perform during 

the test the same actions they’ve been practicing.
In order to be prepared for the SAT, students must master key funda-

mentals in reading, writing, and math. Many of these fundamentals 

are covered prior to high school, which means students can forget 

them. In a timed environment, students cannot afford to figure out 

fundamentals while taking the test. They will either take too long 

to arrive at an answer or answer incorrectly. SAT Writing requires 

grammar mastery. Unfortunately, students learn incorrect grammar 

by listening to others speak. SAT Critical Reading requires a strong 

vocabulary and techniques on how to properly pick out important 

pieces of passages. SAT Math requires solid knowledge of arithmetic, 

algebra, geometry, probability, statistics, and data analysis.

Many techniques students learn for completing homework assign-

ments are inefficient for standardized multiple-choice tests. The 

step-by-step process they use causes them to run out of time. To 

overcome this drawback, students need training on techniques for 

efficient and effective problem solving. They must practice these 

techniques on every type of problem they may see on the SAT.  

Although practice tests are great, such test often do not cover every 

possible topic. They then provide students a false sense of readiness. 

Students need a systematic program that lays down fundamentals, 

provides practice, and reinforces all types of questions they may 

see, and holds them accountable to performing the work necessary 

to become fully prepared.

Why do Students Struggle on the SAT?

by Chris Millett, MS

Pearland resident Chris Millett taught Computer 

Science at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. 

He is currently the founder, President and CEO 

of the Science, Math, and Technology Center of 

Excellence (SMATCOE). You can contact Chris  

at 281-529-6241 or via www.smatcoe.com.

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