Ask a Nerd!

Question: How do I tell my parents that I didn’t get the SAT or ACT scores that I was expecting?


Brief: Although it’s difficult to talk with mom and dad about scores, it’s important to let them know promptly what your score was so that you, as a family, can create a plan of action.


Students who took the SAT or ACT in December should either have already gotten their scores or will be getting them very shortly. This is certainly a difficult time of year to present bad news to mom and dad as most of us are ringing in the New Year. However, it is important to keep parents informed of how your educational process is going so that you can, together, find a solution – didn’t do so well? Our Orange County private SAT tutors are here to help.

1. Talk to mom and dad about your improvement

For example, if you set a goal of receiving an 1800 on your SAT but only scored a 1700, but on your original practice test from three months ago you scored a 1600, remember to tell mom and dad that you had a 100 point improvement. This shows that, although you didn’t reach your goal, that you can improve and that it would be a good idea to take the test again in a couple of months.

2. Call for help

In this case I mean literally. Students who have not yet hired an educational consultant should do so soon. Most students who have a college prep tutor will have the chance to improve their SAT or ACT score significantly. If you haven’t yet hired a private tutor, now is the time to do so (READ: “ACT Tips From a Private Irvine Tutor”).

3. Tell mom and dad that you learned a lot from taking this test

Although you invested time and your parents invested money, it’s important to look at the positive side of a less than perfect score. For instance, perhaps you scored well on your ACT reading, English, and math sections but, for some reason, the science section completely eluded you. If this is the case then you have identified the problem, which is half the battle. Show your parents what your potential new score could be if you were able to bring up that lower score to the same number as your higher scores. You may find that both you and your parents have good news to look forward to in the future as long as you put in the hard work and self-study required to reach that goal (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Taking the AP Exam”).

4. Let mom and dad know that you see this as a wake-up call

If your parents have been talking to you about the importance of study and making the SAT or ACT a priority, but you have not spent too much time on it, your current score can serve as a viable wake-up call. Remember, you only need to send your highest ACT composite score or your SAT super score when you apply to university. As long as you are able to bring up your scores in time to apply to college next year, there is still optimism and hope.

5. Talk with mom and dad about how you feel

It’s important to let your parents know if you’re feeling overwhelmed, overly stressed, or if some of the academics are getting to be too much. Many students find that a private tutor can help them not only with the academics but also with the stress and anxiety of taking these important tests.

6. Research for your future

If you haven’t already done so it’s also important for you and your parents to do some research on what schools you might apply to. For example, if you absolutely have to get a 2000 composite SAT score in order to attend the top university of your dreams, then college prep will now be your first priority from now until you reach that score. However, if you got a 1700 and find that you need a 1790 to get into the college of your choice, you’ll probably only need to take the test one more time after tutoring and self-study. Sometimes disappointing scores have a silver lining because we have the opportunity to learn from them and decide what course of action is best for our college preparation future.

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