Shreya’s parents first contacted Open Door during October of Shreya’s junior year at Concord-Carlisle High School. Shreya planned to apply to competitive pre-med programs and her family knew that her standardized test scores could provide an important edge in the admissions process.
The first step was to determine which test would be the right fit for Shreya. Shreya stopped by our Acton office to pick up materials to take a free diagnostic SAT and ACT. She completed the tests on back-to-back weekends, then she and her parents met with Open Door’s Intake Director for a free consultation to review the results of the test and make a smart, data-driven decision as to which test to take. Shreya’s overall scores, as well as the distribution of scores within the tests, strongly suggested that the ACT would be a better fit for her. Her starting score was a composite 29, with sectional scores of 30 in English, 27 in Math, 34 in Reading, and 24 in Science. While these scores were strong, she hoped to score at least a composite 33 in order to have a shot at the schools she was interested in.
Shreya began meeting with her tutor in mid-December to prepare for an April ACT, anticipating a total of ten sessions before her test. By reviewing her diagnostic results, Shreya’s tutor was able to identify the aspects of the test that had been most challenging for Shreya: punctuation relating to clauses, Math questions relating to quadratics and exponents, and timing in the Science section. In early sessions, Shreya and her tutor focused on these topics by establishing consistent strategies of each section, reviewing essential concepts and skills, and then practicing with increasingly challenging problems to help Shreya to build confidence in her ability to apply these concepts to even the most complex questions. In February, Shreya took an in-person practice test that Open Door hosted at Acton-Boxborough High School. This time she scored a 31 overall, with sectional scores of 32 in English, 29 in Math, 34 in Reading, and 30 in Science. She felt good about her progress, especially in Science, and she did much better with questions about clauses, quadratics, and exponents. Still, Shreya had a little ways to go to reach her goal.
Shreya’s tutor carefully reviewed the results of Shreya’s practice test and identified a few content areas that Shreya was still struggling with, including questions about sentence placement and Math questions that included probability and combinatorics. Shreya and her tutor again focused in on the specific topics that were costing Shreya the most points, establishing clear, effective strategies that would allow Shreya to approach her next practice test with a reliable game plan. When Shreya took her next full, in-person practice test, she scored a 33 composite, with sectional scores of 34 in English, 31 in Math, 33 in Reading and 32 in Science. With the April test just two weeks away, this practice test served as a dress rehearsal that allowed Shreya to hone the finer points of her strategy so that she felt 100% confident for test day.
Shreya and her tutor made a few final adjustments and addressed the topics in missed questions that Shreya would be most likely to see on Test Day. They reviewed not only the content of the test but also some of the best strategies for a successful Test Day, from prepping materials the night before to listening to music that would help Shreya to pump herself up on the way to the testing center.
On Test Day, everything came together. Shreya achieved her original goal by earning a 33 composite, with sectional scores of 34 in English, 29 in Math, 36 in Reading, and 33 in Science. Shreya was thrilled with her results, and she decided to take a break from tutoring, happy with the progress she’d made.
In the summer before her Senior year, Shreya’s family reached out to Open Door because Shreya had decided to take the test one more time. She knew that she could score about a 30 in Math, and it felt important for her to achieve this milestone. She was also looking at the score ranges for her top-choice schools and recognized that adding a point to her composite score could make a big difference.
Shreya and her tutor met to establish a plan to prepare for a final test in September. Shreya wanted to focus on improving her Math score, and she thought that she could score a little higher in Science if she didn’t feel so pressed for time. Shreya and her tutor met for five more sessions, focusing in on the last 10 Math Questions, which would likely make all the difference, and spending some time with intricate Science passages to identify some patterns and shortcuts that could save Shreya a few precious seconds here and there.
Shreya took her final test in September and achieved her goals, improving her Math score to a 31 and her Science score to a 35. As an added bonus, Shreya scored a 36 in English. Because the ACT allows students to superscore their tests, Shreya ended up submitting a 35 composite score, using her most recent English, Math, and Science scores as well as her perfect Reading score from her previous test. These results, coupled with Shreya’s stellar academic record and extensive extracurricular activities made her an extremely compelling candidate.
In the fall of her senior year, Shreya applied via early decision to the ivy league college she had always dreamed of attending. Even for a student with such a strong academic and extracurricular track record, the odds were slim, and Shreya tried not to get her hopes up. In December, she received the email she had been waiting for: she was accepted!
Shreya’s success is a product of her hard work, her perseverance, and her willingness to go above and beyond. While her tutor was able to provide the guidance and support that she needed to leverage her skills, Shreya’s attitude and effort ultimately earned her results that highlight her potential and open the door to her bright future.