SAT Tutoring and Scoring:
Sometimes Results Are a Mystery

By: Jason Robinovitz | Last Updated: September 18, 2019

We fully expect that virtually all students who follow our recommended regimen of prep for standardized tests –SAT, ACT, and SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) – will see significant score increases over the course of tutoring and on the actual tests. We have over 30 years of history that validate our expectation after helping thousands of students accomplish exactly that…

…but there are occasional situations that make us scratch our heads, get humble, realize that there are limits on what we can know, and, because of that, what we can do. One type of situation was described to us recently by our colleague, Shane Bybee of Bybee College Prep. We’d like to share it with you.

photo of woman's face reflectionIn Shane’s most recent SAT prep class were a set of identical twins. On their last practice test, one of them scored 1370 and the other scored 1340; 1600 is the maximum score possible. And then when their scores for the “real SAT” – the August 2019 test – came in, the twin who’d scored 1370 achieved a 1540, while the twin who’d scored 1340 achieved a 1370.

Remember, these are identical twins sitting next to each other in the same tutoring sessions, with the same  tutor, instruction, and materials; they took the same practice tests, and – theoretically – took the same August 2019 SAT.

Shane had no clue as to what happened with the twin whose score increased 170 in the interval between the last practice test and the actual SAT. Maybe that twin, but not the other one, did lots of extra homework — and maybe not: It’s all conjecture.

We will always shoot straight with our students and their parents about test prep progress, and, on occasion, part of that shooting straight might well be scratching our heads, getting humble, and admitting that there are limits on what we can know and do.


Topics: Test Scores SAT

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