Published on 11 July 2017 in Business
Dr. Wayne Adams (author)

Dr. Wayne Adams

Governor Scott approved the state budget in June 2nd which included increasing the Florida Academic Scholars award to over $6,000 a year plus pay for some additional college expenses. It was around $3,000 a year.

The difficulty in most students qualifying for this award that I see most often is their not being able to score 1290 or above on the SAT, or a 29 and above on the ACT. Most of my students do not have great difficulty qualifying wth GPA, volunteer service hours, and other general requirements.

My experience is that many students in IB, Cambridge, honors, and other levels in public, and private high schools can have very high GPAs (4.0 and higher), but just not score well on either of these standardized exams. This syndrome common at all levels of academic accomplishment, but most prevalent in the higher ranges.

Helping potentially high-scoring students requires a little different type of tutoring from students in the 25 ACT Composite - 1100 SAT Superscore range, or from students in the 20 ACT Composite - 1000 SAT Superscore range. While the techniques, fundamentals, and in many cases the mental approaches are similar, their application in my classes varies.

For example, recently I had a high-scoring student who could not get his ACT score in Science above 25. All other scores were around 30, so his composite was still too low for the top level Bright Futures award despite a 5.2 GPA. When we finished with my “up to the ceiling” tutoring, he scored a 32 on the Science. In fact, Science is one of the easiest sections on the ACT exam to “kick through the roof”. (The second highest potential section is Grammar.) With a high-scoring student, often I use several different Reference Books to find the most difficult test questions for practice.

Another successful technique is preparing for “curve balls”. A curve ball is a seldom encountered, difficult question and can come in any test section … althought these are most prevalent in the Math section. As a baseline, any question that a student does not know how to do is hard … and most students do not know how to handle these curve balls. So I have students scour different Reference Books specifically looking for curve balls, and we work on as many as we can.

One key area for improvement at all levels is avoiding what we call “silly mistakes” (SM’s), which include falling into traps that the test designers set up, misreads, and misunderstandings. It is not unusual for students to make five to ten SM’s in our baseline testing because, at that point, they do not understand how a test “thinks” and students are either pressing to go too fast, or going too slowly … in other words, out of their best “speed and concentration zone” to get their best score.

Does it surprise you that a test “thinks”? It does because people who think design the tests, determine what is correct and incorrect, and set up tricks and traps in questions. The more my students understand how this works, the better they will be able to spot traps coming, avoid them with special techniques they are not taught in school, and have a higher “guessing percentage” when they can narrow options to two possible answers.

The difference between a 32 and a 36 on the ACT Math can be getting four more questions correct. The difference between a 32 and a 29 is missing four more questions. So there is not much room for error when shooting for top scores. The same basic rule applies to SAT tests also.

Most parents and students do not know that Bright Futures will (as of this writing) “cherry pick” scores to give students the highest possible average for qualifying. This means they will take the highest scores in each test section, ACT and SAT, and average them. For college applications, usually colleges will allow this only with the SAT, although some do it for the ACT as well.

If You Would Like To Talk More About How I Can Help Your Student, please contact me at 727-253-0639 or at

Dr. Wayne Adams is one of the leading SAT and ACT tutors in the country.  His students normally improve 200 – 350 points on the Writing, Reading, Writing and Essay, and Math, and 4 – 7 points on the ACT composite. They have been admitted to eight of the top ten universities in the country, seventeen of the top twenty-five, and many schools in Florida. These schools include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, U Chicago, Duke, U Penn, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Notre Dame, Emory, UC Berkley, UCLA, USC, UNC (Chapel Hill), NYU, Northeastern (Boston), Boston College, Georgia Tech, Air Force and Merchant Marine Service Academies, Penn State, LSU, Auburn, UF, U Miami, FSU, USF, UCF, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, FIU, New College of Florida, Stetson, and  Julliard – Manhattan - New England - and Berkley Conservatories of Music. Many have received academic, athletic, or music scholarships. This year, he also tutored three juniors who scored at the national merit finalist/semi-finalist levels on the most recent PSAT. He is a former Dean of a Graduate School of Business and Full Professor, and began college teaching at the University of Maryland in 1968. He has degrees and advanced studies at Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, Columbia International, and Luther Rice.


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