I Failed My SATs Three Times

I Failed My SATs Three Times

By Mike Omamo


The first time I began my study abroad applications, my dream college had been Yale, like almost everybody else. I wanted to go to Yale School of Drama and I applied there a couple of times for an acting undergraduate program except Yale didn’t offer an undergraduate program for acting. It only offered a Masters Program. Did I mention I applied twice without knowing there was no such program for undergraduates? How did I do it twice? Simple. Ignorance and assumption. I did not do my research. I assumed all colleges in the US had what I wanted. Please, save yourself this embarrassment and do your research.

I can now proudly say that I am in my dream college. Bennington College is so much more than I ever dreamt of. My love for the school began in a funny way. If you’ve read my previous blog post then you know I am majoring in Drama and theatre. Acting to be specific. I have three mentors. Leonardo Dicaprio, Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Dinklage-The Titanic guy, Doctor Strange on the Avengers and Tyrion Lanister-the dwarf on Game of Thrones respectively. If you don’t know either of them then you need a serious moviecation.

So, I researched what schools they went to for their acting. Benedict studied in London and is the president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. For a minute I thought of applying there but I found out they offered no financial aid to international students. Leonardo simply didn’t go to any acting school, he’s just that good from years of acting. I know right? He’s a badass. Then came Peter Dinklage. Guess which school he went to? You guessed right! Bennington! And that’s how I fell for Bennington!

I began researching on the school. I honestly know more than I am required to about my school. I mostly researched on the requirements of the school, whether they offered enough financial aid if not the entire package, how the school performed, stuff like that. The whole point of me telling you how it all began is so that you too can do your research and not apply twice to a school that doesn’t offer the program you want. You can start by researching universities offering the program you’d like to pursue. Consider the best universities and also alternatives.

While it’s good to apply to the Ivy Leagues, it is better to spread out your risks. Ivy Leagues are quite competitive and I tell you not to discourage you but to help you understand that there are so many other top tier Universities that are just as good. Throw your nets there too. After you’ve figured the schools offering your program and would like to go to, find out if they offer financial aid to international students. Most of them do but the percentages vary with the school and your financial need. Some offer 100%, some 80%, some 50 and even some 120%. I’m not messing with you. I know a friend that got 120%. The extra is a stipend.

So, use this to eliminate your long list of schools. Choose the ones that would cater for your financial aid depending on how much you need. Okay? Then after this, go ahead and find out the requirements needed to apply to the schools. It would be counter-productive going to the requirements before finding out about financial aid.  Stressing about a school’s requirements that won’t offer you good financial aid? See my point? So, now you are doing your research on the requirements and you’ll most certainly come across this word. SAT. This is what I will be talking about.

What is the SAT?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test is an exam that tests your knowledge on reading, writing and math. It’s basically things you did in high-school, if you paid good attention in school. It’s easy stuff. It’s hard stuff. I’m confusing you, aren’t I? Here’s what I really mean.

Like I said earlier, it’s high-school stuff. English grammar, passages, equations in math and so forth. Now the challenge comes with time. SAT time is quite limited. If memory serves me right, in math section one you have 25 questions to answer in 20 minutes. In Reading, you have 52 questions and about 6 passages to read all to be finished in 65 minutes. I could never describe just how limited that time is.

Google ‘SAT practice test’ and have at it then you’ll know. If you finish on time, good for you. Also be sure to tell me your score. Most people don’t finish on time during their first time but most do after many practice tests. You want to do as many practice tests as you can to finish on time and get a good score. Trust me, you will need to be called crazy by your friends because of the many hours you are putting on the SAT’s. Until then, you are not doing enough work. I failed the SAT’s thrice before I realized I wasn’t putting enough hours to it. On the fourth time taking the SAT’s, I got 1340. I cannot insist on how important it is you do crazy preparation for the SAT’s.

Why take the SAT?

  1. Most universities require that you do.
  2. With good scores, it will make you stand out. Each school receives like a billion applications from all over the world. Okay, a billion is an exaggeration but it’s a lot.
  3. It’s an opportunity to shine if you don’t have an impressive high-school transcript. Mine wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, the SAT’s saved me.

How is the SAT scored?

The highest total score you can get is 1600.



The essay is scored separately and the highest total score in the essay is 8. Which brings me to inform you that there’s the SAT with the essay and the other without. So, which one should you take? It depends with the requirements of the schools you want to apply to. Some need the essay, some don’t. Again, I cannot insist more on the importance of researching your school requirements. However, taking the essay is another way of showing them your command of English. You really want to stand out in that sea of applications.

What is a good SAT score?

A total of 1200 and above is a good score. 1300 and above is so much better and 1400 and above is a great score! Different schools however have different SAT score requirements. Do you see how important it is to check your school requirements? I can tell you for sure though, score as high as you possibly can. Even though your admission won’t solely depend on your scores, you want them to immediately turn their heads for you with your good scores.

The SAT format

There’s SAT1 and SAT2. SAT1 (General) has the reading and writing section and the math section and you can take it with the essay or without. It’s the one I talked about earlier. The one with a total score of 1600.

Then there’s SAT2 officially known as SAT Subject Tests. I just call them SAT2. SAT2 tests on subjects such as:

-English (Literature)

-Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics)

-History (US or World History)

-Math. I call it Advanced Math or Math2:)

-Languages (German, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Modern Hebrew)

SAT1 is mandatory for most colleges. SAT2, not so much. Some schools require SAT2. The colleges that require SAT2 use them to place students in appropriate courses. So, if you know you want to get into a science course for instance, take the SAT2 with the science tests. It would give you an advantage. One last time, check check check what your schools require!

How do you register for the SAT?

Simple. It’s on our website. Just click here https://lts-africa.com/services/sat/sat-registration-in-kenya/

How much is the SAT?

Even on my sales pitching, I like to finish the presentation with the prices because people tend to switch off when you start them off with the prices. That’s just being a bad salesperson.

SAT1 with essay- Ksh.14,000

SAT1 without essay- Ksh.12,000

The SAT2 varies with the subjects you want to take. Check them out on https://lts-africa.com/services/sat/sat-registration-in-kenya/

Another thing, if you can’t afford them, you can always apply for a SAT waiver and you’ll be allowed to take them but, you have to prove your financial need before you are given the waiver. So, don’t worry if you can’t afford it.

When can you take the SAT?

SAT is offered 7 times a year-March, May, June, August, October, November and December.

Final thoughts

  • Number one, check the school requirements before you make any decision.
  • Practice! Practice! Practice! Even when you think you are Albert Einstein. You are going to fail terribly if you don’t. And if you don’t feel as smart on trying your first practice test, remember hard work trumps talent! Also, LTS offers very good and extensive SAT tutoring that’s tailored to your learning needs and goals. They have highly trained tutors and have a serene and well- equipped learning environment. How awesome is that! Check out our tutoring packages – https://lts-africa.com/product-category/sat/ . I wish I knew about this earlier.
  • Avoid last minute SAT bookings.
  • On Test day, come in earlier than you are required to so obviously choose a test center that’s near you. Also, make sure you have everything required in the test room. I know people who weren’t allowed in the test room because they forgot their HB pencils. You forget your ID you won’t even be allowed through the main gate.

Now go go go start practicing!!!!!!!

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