How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Child's ACT & SAT Scores

Just one or two more correct answers can mean The Difference between getting into a "Dream School"...and winning boatloads of fat, juicy scholarships!


Everyone knows that higher scores on the ACT and SAT tests can unlock doors for your child that might otherwise be closed.

Even improving their scores a few points could mean the difference between getting into their dream school (with scholarships!) or getting passed over.

It makes sense that you want to give your child every chance at success before, during and after college. The challenge is figuring out what “every chance” actually is.

The big risk comes in messing up something that’s important.

What Most Parents Don’t Know About How They’re Sabotaging Their Child’s Chance At Success

If you’re serious about giving your child every advantage which it comes to college, the question isn’t whether or not to get them help preparing for the ACT or SAT, the question is which type of help do you need?

There are a lot of choices. Unfortunately, the devil’s in the details, as they say. And it’s a real devil. This is the reason so many parents in your situation deal with stress, anxiety and fear about the college process.

Below you will find some of the most common test-prep mistakes parents make even when they think they are making smart choices:

Mistake #1: Falling For the “Silver Bullet Test-Prep System”

Your child is not a robot. Kids are not meant to fit into “systems.” And while that approach to test-prep might sound impressive on paper, the only way to help your child learn how to increase their scores is to teach them in the way they learn best.

If there was one test-prep system that worked for everyone, we’d all be using it. But that’s just not the case. If you’re serious about boosting your child’s ACT and SAT scores, the help has to come in a form that fits the way your kid learns.

While it’s just not practical for every child to have one-on-one instruction, it is practical to have personalized instruction in a small group setting. If you’re considering enrolling in classes with 20 or 30 students, that’s not going to give your child the customized instruction they deserve to do their best. Even worse, the “system” they’re forced to use might actually lead to them doing WORSE, because it is geared toward the Lowest Common Denominator, not your child.

Mistake #2: Falling For the “Headed For Disaster” Initial Test Setup

Without revealing any names (we know who you are!), you need to understand that some test prep firms artificially inflate the difficulty of the initial test they give your child. Not only does this freak everyone out (including you!) when the scores come back, but it also makes the firm look amazing at the END of the classes when they give your child a test that more accurately measures their readiness for the ACT or SAT.

Don’t allow anyone to play mind games like this with your child. It doesn’t set anyone up for success. You want to work with someone who uses tests as close to the real thing as possible. When in doubt, ask: “What tests do you use to assess my child’s readiness and where do those tests come from?”

Mistake #3: Falling For the “More is Better” Myth

How long will it take to help your child get to the top of his or her scoring range? No one knows!

The goal is to achieve the highest scores in the least amount of time, with the least amount of effort. This is not “lazy,” this is smart!

Test scores are only one piece of the college success puzzle. So committing your child to two or three YEARS of test-prep isn’t only unnecessary, it can also lead to real problems.

If too much of their time and energy is invested into this, there’s not going to be enough left to deal with all of the other important parts of getting accepted and getting scholarships.

Parents who fall for the “more is better myth” can easily end up sabotaging other parts of the process.

More is not better, better is better. And ideally, you want the better scores in the least amount of time possible.

Mistake #4: Taking On the “Bad Test-Taker” Label

If you remember nothing else from this short message, remember this: there is no such thing as a bad test taker. There are only students who have not prepared in the right way for THEM to achieve their highest possible score.

Taking on the “bad test taker” label leads to mistakes and decisions that are not in anyone’s best interest.

Each child (your teen included!) can achieve great things. The trick is to figure out how best to prepare for that outcome. That’s what real test-prep is about. It’s not about cramming facts into anyone’s head, it’s about unlocking your child’s innate potential to achieve.

Engineering the WIN vs. Hoping and Praying for the Win

The good news is that you can win here. You can help your child get into their dream school. You can position your child to maximize their chances of receiving scholarships. You can dissolve the fear, anxiety (even panic!) that comes with not wanting to make a mistake.

Colleges are in the business of acquiring talent, not creating it, when you think about it. So the importance of showing your child is already one of those kids cannot be stressed too much.

The college selection and admission process happens ONCE in your child’s life. So it’s not something you want to leave up to chance.

One test score won’t do it alone, but the best test score your child can achieve PLUS doing other smart things can end up creating amazing outcomes.


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Here's what clients say...

Referred by trusted friends, we reached out to Andy Lockwood for advice for our son. Andy was wonderful and engaging but more than that his years of experience was clearly evident. He didn’t sugar coat anything. He was a straight-shooter and it was refreshing after the phone calls with other college advisors. Andy suggested a face-to-face meeting to meet our son, who, in the 5th grade, was diagnosed with a learning disability. Although an excellent student, determined and bright, learning for him comes with challenges. Andy suggested that we set up a time to talk with Marissa. It was critical to us that that we connect our son to a professional who understood the way in which he learns best so that the ACT test wasn’t viewed by him as something he could achieve. At that meeting, Marissa briefly explained her approach but more importantly asked questions and listened. Marissa, wanted to know and understand everything about our son - - his work ethic, his grades, his extracurricular activities, the disability, when he was diagnosed, symptoms. She requested any written documentation that we obtained from his medical/educational assessments so she could delve deeper and have greater insight to benefit our son. Marissa, the student learning her new subject, our son. Over the course of three months, she and our son met each week. She taught him an array of English and math concepts and test-taking strategies all the while boosting his confidence with each and every session. She was his teacher, his partner and his cheerleader. And boy, did he perform well! His diagnostic score was very low. No one ever imagined that he would score 11 points higher on the first take of his ACT. We are SO grateful to Andy and Marissa. Fortunate doesn’t begin to describe it. The experience for our son and for us as parents was exceptional. Although I write this testimonial, the best recommendation I can provide will be future referrals. Why wouldn’t I want our friends and family to be as lucky as we were with Andy and Marissa. We will share the love!

Molina Fabricant, NY, NY

Without the Lockwoods and their team, I would have been very confused filling out college applications, I would have struggled to perfect my college essays, and I wouldn't have had as high of a chance of getting into my dream school of University of Chicago. As a proud, registered student in UChicago's class of 2022, I would highly recommend Lockwood College Prep to anyone and everyone applying to college.

-Elzabeth Cron, Cincinatti, OH (Admitted to UChicago)

The whole college preparation/application process can be overwhelming. Thinking I knew everything I needed to know because I had been down this particular road before with my oldest, I was shaken into a harsh reality that I really knew nothing. My academically strong and extremely determined middle child, set her sights on a couple of schools with a 14% acceptance rate. I knew she had the grades to shoot for these schools so through the referral of a family friend, she quickly went to work with Marissa on a one on one basis. What an incredible experience. Marissa is amazing at what she does. Analyzing my daughter's baseline scores from both ACT and SAT, she quickly focused in on my daughter's weaknesses and helped her to play up her strengths. Her first SAT was incredible. Marissa worked with my daughter through two more SAT's and I believe she was able to pull the best possible score out of my daughter. But that is only half of the story. Lockwood had so much more to offer ME, as a parent. It's not just about the kids. Being a client for SAT tutoring, I had access to the many webinars covering topics from "How to get into your Dream College; which explained what it was these schools were looking for in an applicant, "Financial Aid Do's and Dont's" and "Negotiating with the Colleges"; all topics necessary to understand during this onslaught of craziness. Andy would sit in front of his computer and give it to us straight. Parents had the ability to ask any question, prompting answers that got straight to the point. His webinars were a valuable forum of knowledge that helped me to navigate the various aspects of my daughter's complex application. I am so happy and proud to say that it paid off. My daughter was accepted into her first choice school and is
excited to start her college journey. I could not have survived this process without the help from Lockwood. My only regret is that I did not find them sooner. Understanding the college process should not wait until your child is a junior. The earlier you understand what is ahead of you as a parent, the more prepared you will be in this process. The knowledge will help alleviate some of the pressure on you so you can support your child through their preparation process. Thanks Andy, Pearl & Marissa. I will be forever grateful.

Joy Cinquemani, Whitestone, NY

“My son found Marissa to be an amazing teacher who explained math concepts well, taught him grammar in a way he was able to remember and showed him strategies to significantly help his reading comprehension. Marissa is kind, smart and patient and made my son feel confident and comfortable going into the SAT. On his first attempt at the SAT we saw a big score increase and we owe that to Marissa! I highly recommend Marissa and Lockwood College Consulting!

Cindy Samide, Syosset, NY

“Marissa is The Bomb! And she is so calming, her rapport with my daughter is incredible! (I eavesdropped on a lesson behind the door, she is GREAT!). [Editor's Note: Barbara's daughter improved her ACT score by 5 points on her first try.]”

Barbara Mitchell, Sweden, Maine

Thank you Andy & Pearl for all the "stress" RELIEF you provided in our college process planning. Thanks to Pearl our financial documents were submitted in a timely fashion. Andy's amazing way of talking with us kept us on track in every aspect. This process could've been a nightmare. With Lockwood College Prep, it has been a pleasure. Receiving the acceptances to Colleges has been wonderful!

Diana Hadjiyane, Wantagh, NY

“Emily went up 5 points on the reading section! I couldn't believe it, she was getting nowhere, no improvement at all with Chyten.”

Mom of Emily, Syosset NY

I just received my ACT score back and it went from a 24 to a 28! My parents and I are thrilled!  Please pass along my thanks to Marissa. She was a huge help!

Luke Verdon, Greenlawn, NY

I want to thank you for starting your tutoring service.  Marissa has shown my son how to understand the English, Math and Science sections, and he has shown improvements in all sections of the ACT. [Editor's note:  Peter went from a 24 to a 31 and got into his top choice college!]

Barbara Rowan, Wantagh, NY