Help Your Teen Raise Their Test Scores!

By April Tisher

As entry into the nation’s top universities and colleges have become more and more competitive, students applying for those coveted positions have come out ready to earn their acceptance. Both grade point averages and average standardized test scores have steadily climbed and this year, the average scores for the incoming 2019 freshman class at the University of Florida included a 1330-1460 on the SAT, 29 – 33 on the ACT and a 4.3 – 46 GPA.

Although not the only part of the application process, the SAT and ACT are important aspects of the college admissions packet as they help colleges evaluate the students’ readiness for college. Students can opt to take either the ACT or the SAT or both, depending on the requirements of the colleges they are applying to. The ACT exam is scored on a 1-36 point scale. The SAT is made up of two sections with the scoring scale between 200 and 800 for each section. In 2018, the average SAT score for Alachua County Public School students was 1187, well above both state and national averages. During that same year, the average ACPS student earned a composite score of 21.3 on the ACT.

The Perfect Score

A perfect score on the SAT or ACT is no small feat and in Alachua County some of our very own best and brightest high school students did just that. Karen Clarke, the Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools said “We’re very proud that so many of our students are among the top academic performers in the nation; It’s a tribute to the students and to their teachers and families.” According to Alachua County Public Schools eleven local students earned perfect scores on either the SAT or ACT college entrance exams during the 2018-19 academic year! The students that earned a perfect score on the ACT during the 2018-19 school year were Javier Fernandez-Ambite, Griffin Golde, Thomas Lancer, Natalie Oyenarte, Sterling Reed, Baleigh Sweeney, and Tyler Wycoff of Gainesville High School and Amy Cohen, Jaiwei Ma and Yared Tadesse of Buchholz High School. Alexander Duffaut of Gainesville High School earned a perfect 1600 on the SAT.


Every child learns and excels differently, that is why the college admissions process is broader than just SAT and ACT scores. A higher score is in the students favor and a quick internet search will return hundreds of prep courses and tips to help improve one’s scores. Your student’s school may additionally offer free SAT reviews for them to take advantages of. offers five simple tips to help improve your score right away:

  1. Work Questions Out of Order-don’t spend too much time on the hard problems
  2. Choose a “Letter of the Day”-meaning pick a letter, such as “c” for example and pick that every time you have no idea what the answer is. There is no penalty for wrong answers on the ACT
  3. Find the wrong answers first and eliminate them-this makes the right answer seem more apparent.
  4. Know the best way to bubble in-work one section at a time circling your answers right in the booklet; then transferring one section at a time to the bubble sheet
  5. Tailor your strategy to each section: English, Math, Science, Reading and Essay


Carly Heckathorn, MEd, EdS, a High School Counselor, cautions against the pressure for students to chase the perfect score. “This can cause undue anxiety during an already stressful time. Studying relentlessly does not guarantee a perfect (or even a high) score.” Balance is the key for well rounded students. Knowing a school or program’s specific requirements and ensuring that those standards are met along with extracurricular achievements and relevant experience will help show the admissions team the whole picture of an applicant. It is the goal to admit students with the highest chance of success.

The good news, Heckathorn says, is that while “ACT and SAT scores are required for most universities and do play a role in college admissions, admissions are also much more holistic than they used to be.”