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Discrepancies in SAT Scores???


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I’m going thru the college admissions process with my 2nd child.  She is done taking the SAT and did great.

Something I have noticed with both of my children is that their performance on the reading section is not as good as their performance on the writing and the math.  They have done fine - well above average, but the writing and math portions are great, whereas the reading is just good.  Neither of them improved much on the reading section with practice and tutoring.

They both read well, enjoy reading, etc., so I’m not sure this is a problem for them.  But I am wondering if there is something I need to do more of with my younger ones?  

All of my kids love reading, read on grade level, read for pleasure, etc.  I am just wondering if this pattern with their test scores indicates there’s something more/different I should do in the area of reading or if it something that is not worth worrying about.  

Someone mentioned this about my oldest son’s scores when he was going through the admissions process, so I think that’s why it’s on my radar.

Edited by JazzyMom
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  • JazzyMom changed the title to Discrepancies in SAT Scores???

I think it’s not terribly uncommon to be a lopsided tester. My girls all score nearly perfectly on reading, writing, and science sections (ACT) and just very well in math. 

Edited by fourisenough
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My dd took the SAT early last year and had similar scores- very good for everything except Reading. Since she had an almost perfect score for Reading on the ACT, I assumed it is an SAT specific thing. She wanted to re-test, so I figured it was worth getting the Meltzer guide for Reading. She also had her eyes tested and did have a fairly significant prescription change. She re-took it on the the June date, so I won’t know until July how she came out.

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I've also heard good things about Meltzer.  I have taken some of the old SATs available online, and I think the reading passages are difficult to parse (especially the ones written hundreds of years ago), and the questions quite impossible.   

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2 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

   All of my kids love reading, read on grade level, read for pleasure, etc.  I am just wondering if this pattern with their test scores indicates there’s something more/different I should do in the area of reading or if it something that is not worth worrying about.  .

I've done a pretty good bit of ACT tutoring. To your list, I would add: make sure a significant amount of at least their school reading is both high-quality and challenging, every single year. Not a specific list, just making sure that some of their reading is making them work, making them think, has challenging vocabulary, plots, motivations, characters. Just because a student is reading something well-above grade level does not mean that student in particular is being challenged. 

No amount of prep can substitute for ten-plus years of high-quality, challenging reading. 

Having said that, I do agree that discrepancy in scores is more typical than not and not necessarily the result of something that was or wasn't done.

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Another problem with the SAT specifically and kids who love to read is that many of those passages (and questions!) are MIND-NUMBINGLY boring and contextually irrelevant. Not the topics / subject areas, but the actual text excerpts. Kids who have grown up on excellent literature and high-quality reading tend to have lower tolerance for that kind of stuff. 

The ACT passages are definitely a step up, but still not exactly designed to captivate minds and challenge strong thinking (I know, I know, the tests are not designed for that, but . . . still). 

 

 

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Posted (edited)


Speed was definitely an issue for one of them.

They did use the Meltzer book and also did some sessions with a private tutor and those reading scores did not move much at all.

I went in and looked at the individual percentiles, and reading was about 20% lower than math and writing.

They are reading some high quality books, but I’m not sure that they are challenging.  I usually get them a mix of fun books, award winners (Newberry, etc.), library recommendations, books from various homeschool lists (like Sonlight).  

How would I go about making sure the books are challenging enough?

Also, they’ve never specifically done a vocabulary curriculum.

Edited by JazzyMom
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Well, you could try a vocabulary book specifically. I also encourage people to read a lot outside of school--not necessarily anything terribly challenging, but consider making sure a novel a week (or a good chunk of one, if it's long) on one's own an expectation.

But also, you don't need scores to be even. I scored 50 points higher on math myself, and I went on to be an English major.

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The 1879 McGuffey readers build to SAT level by the 6th reader, they gradually increase in difficulty and have difficult vocabulary defined. My son is not great at Language Arts overall, but did well on reading because I made him read high level things and read thorough the McGuffey readers. Grammar is another story. After 3 months of study, he went from getting only 20 of the grammar questions right to getting around 30 correct. He is good at math, his math improved very quickly with the 1600io orange books. He didn't study for reading, just years of high level reading to draw from.

McGuffeys:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/5671

There are also the Parker Readers, Parker 4th and 5th readers, you can skip elocution.

https://books.google.com/books?id=30wSAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=parker+reader+inauthor:parker&lr=&as_brr=1&ei=11CnR5LlBZXaygTL_v3hBw%20#v=onepage&q=parker%20reader%20inauthor%3Aparker&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=ByBKAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=parker+reader+inauthor:parker&lr=&as_brr=1&ei=aFGnR9rrO4mWzAT9r_XPAw#v=onepage&q=parker%20reader%20inauthor%3Aparker&f=false

Then, the free portion of 1600io website has more of each book or passage the SAT reading passages come from, read more of those that you struggled with, looking up any vocabulary you don't know.

Each genre has its own most common vocabulary. Also, older readings have different sentence structure and longer average sentence length.

The average reading grade level of SAT passages is 12.5. Reading grade level test:

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Reading/Resources/40L Test.pdf

My free lessons teaching phonics to the 12th grade level, follow on with all of the 2+ syllable words in Webster's Speller.

http://thephonicspage.org/On Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

You can also improve your reading speed by over learning sounds and syllables. I have a video about how to do that, then do daily sound and syllable drills. If there is a slowdown on the MWIA (linked on the end of my syllables page) you also need to do daily nonsense words drills.

Here is a video about the science behind sounds, syllables, and reading speed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtKN6j1apDs&t=267s

Edited by ElizabethB
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I get a little impatient when people (everywhere, not just this thread) say, oh just read quality literarature. Really, that had never occurred to me as a homeschooler.

OP I will give you my opinion of my sample of 1, but also having taken reading heavy tests as a non native English speaker. There’s a different sort of reading that’s required for these tests than what’s required to enjoy and understand great literature. I would say you are actually disadvantaged if you are a good reader, because you bring your thoughts, god-forbid analytical thinking, and outside knowledge, etc to the process, where what they want is just a very rote, read this, answer that as if the info we gave you in this passage is the actual and only truth. There have been (say, historical) passages that DS would get the question wrong because...the info was not in the passage and in fact the right answer was factually wrong and he just would not select it. 
the best way to prep for these tests is what schools do: small passages with questions and answers in the back, aka Sadler Oxford, and workbook type things. My DS started getting perfect reading scores when I told him to turn his brain off and not go into the passage like he will learn something. 
forgive the cynicism. I’m sure there will be 5 more posters who said their kids just read and one day marched into the test with a perfect score. I’m sure you are looking for a variety of views. 

Edited by madteaparty
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I'd get a tutor who knows what they are doing. The way you prep for this stuff is to figure out what specific issues a kid is having, then working on those types of questions. For the reading section, it's often an issue with how they phrase the questions and nothing else. 

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