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Can I improve my SAT score by 300 to 400 points?

QUESTION: Dear Experts: I took the SAT twice this year, and both times I scored poorly. I have taken the preparation course my school offered and tried different SAT study books. Is there any way that I can improve my score by 300 to 400 points on the math and critical reading sections? Is there a limit to the amount of times you can take the SAT? Signed, Most Improved

Dear Most Improved: Improving your SAT score by several hundred points has been done, but unfortunately it is neither common nor likely. Since you've already taken a preparation class offered by your school, consider taking one from a test preparation company like Princeton Review or Kaplan. These may be more intensive than the course offered at your school and will provide you with more opportunities to practice.

Remember that you can't improve your score by just learning strategies. Combine strategies with study, review and practice. As an example, study vocabulary words to help with the critical reading section. Review material from your classes that is tested on the SAT. Practice taking exams from the book 10 Real SATs. When you've completed a practice test, review the questions you missed to determine what material is giving you the most trouble.

There is no limit to the number of times you can take the SAT. Most colleges take the highest critical reading, the highest math and the highest writing score. Realize that if you take the test a number of times without improving, your score is unlikely to improve by taking it another time.

Keep in mind that your SAT score is only one factor that colleges use. Focus on the other areas involved in the college admissions process, such as extracurricular activities, community service, leadership and your academic record, not to mention the essay. A low SAT score will not spell the end. However, a low score and limited accomplishments in these other areas will.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.