Getting SAT scores back can be stressful. Your child feels like their future is riding on this one moment. There may be elation or disappointment depending on the results. The way you respond can help your child work through their feelings in a healthy way. These four tips will help your child on results day.
Your child is experiencing a range of emotions, it may be excitement, disappointment, anger, or thrill. There is no right emotion or reaction. Imposing your own emotions on your child will not help them. Listen as they express how they feel and respond appropriately.
The way you respond with your praise can impact how your child views their effort. The New York Times cites a study that found the way children were praised changed how they felt about their abilities. Those told they performed well because they were smart felt like they didn’t have natural talent or ability when they performed poorly.
“You worked really hard” is a great phrase to use whether or not your child achieved their goal score. Acknowledging that their effort directly impacts their score rather than just “being smart” or a bad score being “unfair” prevents your child from feeling like they don’t have control over their outcomes.
If your child didn’t get the score they wanted, offer words of encouragement. “I know you worked really hard, this must feel disappointing,” is a kind phrase to offer your child. Don’t offer solutions, or get mad at your student. They are already feeling sad and won’t feel ready for that yet. After a few days, you can sit down with your child and develop a plan for taking the SAT again.
The SAT is a big accomplishment. Recognize the work your child put in and the stress they went through just to sit through such strenuous test. Go out for ice cream, make a special dinner, or write a note to celebrate your child’s experience. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A small gesture will show your child you care and are proud of them.
Your child may not be ready to talk much about how they are feeling about their score. Be available for them when they are ready, but don’t hover. They may need some time on their own to process what happened and what their next steps are. Let your child know you are happy to talk with them about it when they feel ready.
You are your child’s best teammate, advocate, and cheerleader. It is important that your child continues to feel confident and valued, not matter what SAT score they got. You can be supportive and also firm about how to improve in the future. Try these four tips to have a smooth test results day in your home.
Michael Romano has been offering his Los Gatos SAT prep services for almost two decades. He’s seen thousands of kids and helped with just about every kind of standardized testing anxiety a student could have. This has taught him that increased scores come down to confidence. Yes, you have to understand the material, but confidence is—more often than not—the #1 cause of a student’s trouble with testing. Bearing that in mind, he has created an SAT tutoring program that builds confidence by desensitizing his students to the conditions of the test, while providing them with targeted instruction on both the academic content of the exam and the tips and tricks that make it so much easier.