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Low scores diminishing confidence

  1. Nov 22, 2011 #1
    I've recently taken the math 1 sat subject test and the sat and to be perfectly honest, I've been devastated by the scores I've gotten. I received a 670 on the math 1 section of the sat subject test and a 640 on the sat math section. I desperately want to become an engineer-I love math and science and can't really imagine anything else but the scores I've gotten have been eating away at my confidence and motivation to work. I've never been too gifted at math, but I try my best to get past my adhd and pay attention. For the first two years of high school, hard work has paid off (c in alegebra 8th grade to 99/98 avg for geometry and trigonometry respectively), but seeing those low sat scores really makes me question whether I should be an engineer or not :( I know I sound whiny, but I feel incompetent and stupid and desperately want to regain some confidence. I plan on taking up a 5 year joint-degree engineering program between Adelphi University and Columbia University but the catch is that I need to maintain at least a 3.3 or above during those entire five years. I have no clue whether or not I have the ability to meet those standards. I'm not stupid, or at least I don't think I am. I scored a 140 on a legitimate i.q test (but I know a friend who's scored a 153 and who's even worse at math than I am), so I don't really know what's wrong with me. I haven't really studied for those two tests, so I'm studying 2-3 hours a day but still, I have no confidence that amount of work will even help me :/ Sometimes I misread questions and feel stupid when I realize the correct answer, but it's something that's not easily fixed and frustrates me frequently. Sorry for the long read, and thanks to anyone who does read it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 22, 2011 #2
    so, in short, I feel incompetent because of my math scores and I'd like to hear your advice on how I can regain my confidence and whether I'm capable of being a quality engineer based on the scores I've gotten.
  4. Nov 22, 2011 #3
    real talk: quit being a little *****.

    i have much lower standardized test scores than you and i can hold my own in engineering, it's just a matter of how bad you want it, and how much you are willing to work.

    2-3 hours of study time as an engineering student is literally NOTHING. so you might want to throw this (and your other preset numbers right out of the window). the material dictates that you need to do whatever amount of work is necessary to do well.

    and i hate to break it to you, but those IQ test scores don't add up, so you should stop relying on them. i know of someone who has a 150+ and he DOMINATED everything he touched, including perfect scores on standardized everything, making thousands of dollars at online poker, and perfect grades at his ivy.

    people like that exist, and it isn't the end of the world if you aren't one of them. also, 670 on a subject test without studying is pretty impressive. make sure you put the time in and retake. with a base score like 670 with no studying, you should be able to hit a 750+. there should be no point to this though, if you already got into Adelphi.

    the best thing to do is focus on developing good work / study habits, which will ensure that you do well in college. this is going to be most crucial when your grades come into play for engineering.
  5. Nov 22, 2011 #4
    Thanks, I genuinely appreciate that (guess I needed someone to be blunt)...I found out the scores only recently so I've been panicking about my level of competence, ect, ect. I just go to a highly competitive school so a 670 is considered very poor, so that mentality has been stuck with me for years. Yeah, I'm trying to build up work habits. I have no issue getting into Adelphi but I was just panicking about whether I would be able to maintain that 3.3 standard for the pre engineering program. Anyway, I'm just trying to do the best I can now so that things work out
  6. Nov 22, 2011 #5
    SAT scores don't mean ****. I did poorly on the SAT but aced calc BC and doing well in Multivariable calculus in college.
  7. Nov 22, 2011 #6
    the real thing is learning to study properly, developing a good attitude, and habits that will work well for you in any situation. it doesn't matter how intelligent you are if you don't put the proper amount of time into your studies.

    the idea with engineering (and college in general) is that you are given a lot of work in reasonably difficult - very difficult classes, so when you add 5 semi-difficult things together they become a burden. and this is just your classes -- add to it your social life, daily errands, chores (laundry, cooking, etc), and it really becomes a lot.

    the best way to overcome these problems is by having a good attitude and time management / study skills. these three things alone enable a lot of people to achieve great things in their lives, ESPECIALLY when they want something very badly, and work extremely hard towards their goal.

    so, the best thing you can do for yourself is to make the necessary changes as early as possible, and that way you will be a pro at this by the time college starts, hopefully giving you a leg up on things.

    this book really helped me become more efficient with my study / work time -- and these two things are what engineering is all about, time management and efficiency. you can probably find it on amazon for a lot cheaper.

  8. Nov 22, 2011 #7


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    A few more remarks:

    Ignore scores from "IQ tests." They do nothing to help you understand the material you're trying to learn, and worrying about it will not raise your scores. Also, you will have more experiences where you score lower than you want on exams, problem sets, etc. Your challenge will be to find a way to overcome your feelings of inadequacy and move forward in finding out where and how you need to improve.

    How you respond to failure will be extremely important to your success. It is imperative that you separate your self-worth from performance in school. Getting a low score on a test means you have work to do. That's all. :smile:
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  9. Nov 22, 2011 #8


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    This should be stickied!!!!
  10. Nov 22, 2011 #9

    where should someone get their self worth from?
  11. Nov 22, 2011 #10


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    I get mine from my wife, family and close friends. Sources that are much more stable and significantly more important to me than exam scores.
  12. Nov 22, 2011 #11


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    They should get it from everything they do.

    Also if people fail, the most important thing is the reaction and not the failure itself. The thing is that people fail all the time and its going to be the person that takes it on the chin and has a positive attitude that will eventually earn the respect of other people.

    If someone has a low opinion of themselves and they are not trying or afraid to fail, then as paradoxical as this might sound, they need to fail, and more importantly they need to see that its not as bad as they thought.

    We all need some kind of confidence: I don't doubt that. But the confidence needs to be met with criticism. People grow when they go through rough patches: as we go through these it becomes less about how we suffer, and more about how we grow.

    Also another important thing: if you have gone through these kinds of experiences: pass your knowledge on. You don't have to publish a book, but pass it on. You can do it in forums like these, you can do it through voluntary work, you can do it as part of your career, but however you do it, this is really important.
  13. Nov 23, 2011 #12
    If you don't like your SAT score, you should take some cram classes on the SAT and see if you can improve it.

    Also, get ready for much, much, much more disappointment and failure. If you let something like the SAT throw you off, you are going to have tremendous problem *when* you start bombing courses in college, you can't get into the graduate school of your choice, when you mess up a job interview, when you get laid off from work, etc. etc.

    Life is about disappointment and failure. You need to come to terms with that.

    One thing that helps me is to think that if I'm doing well, that means that I'm not being challenged hard enough. If I'm getting straight-A's, I should be taking harder courses that I'm barely struggling through.

    Studying 2-3 hours will be leave you in a better situation than if you study zero hours.
  14. Nov 23, 2011 #13
    I personally believe that the SAT is not a good measure of your abilities in college, but granted, colleges do take them into account when considering your admission into selective colleges. I've found that studying for the SAT is not a matter of length, but of what you spend that time doing. I've improved my scores by 300+ (starting at ~2000) just by doing practice tests - college board has released at least 14 of them (get their books only since they actually create the tests - other publishers aren't as accurate). If you need other resources regarding studying for the SAT, collegeconfidential has some excellent guides.
  15. Nov 23, 2011 #14
    Thanks for the advice guys, but I have another question...aside from building up good work habits and coping mechanisms for stress and failure, what else do you guys suggest I do to prepare for engineering in college? I have a lot of free time this time around and I was wondering if you guys had any suggestions (ex- studying math on my free time, ect, ect)
  16. Nov 23, 2011 #15
    you seem like a smart kid so the best thing you can do is relax and learn to enjoy reading a good book, or making the most of your free time visiting with friends and whatnot before everyone goes away for to school and stuff. . . you are a senior now? it's kinda hard to prepare for classes a year away. . . def get that book i recommended, and it might free up a lot more of your time so that you can study and really enjoy yourself while you do it.
  17. Nov 23, 2011 #16
    I've found that it is quite a good measure of your abilities in college although not in the way that people think.... It's more of a weird personality test if you think about it.

    Exactly. You can boost your SAT score enormously by just hitting the books, reviewing old tests, practice tests, going online to see what other people are doing.....

    Sort of like what you'll be doing in college.
  18. Nov 23, 2011 #17
    I don't think you should let one exam score judge whether you "can" be an engineer or not...
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