SAT Boot Camp Boosting Chances for Ivy League Admission

HISD students at three high schools say they are more confident and prepared to take the SAT thanks to a summer boot camp that raised their practice test scores by double digits.

“At first I found it really difficult,” said Sharpstown sophomore Giovanna Deleon. “Now, after taking the practice tests and seeing my score increase week after week, I am very proud and optimistic.”

Deleon, who wants to attend Rice University and study political science, has a lot to be proud of. She jumped nearly 600 points on her composite practice test score from the beginning to the end of the camp, and she’s not alone. Post course data shows students enrolled in the camp had their scores increase an average of 241 points. At Sharpstown, student scores increased by an average of over 300 points.

Nearly 100 students from Sharpstown, Chavez, and Eastwood Academy took part in the four-week SAT boot camp this July, All are enrolled in EMERGE, which is a districtwide program aimed at getting more HISD students, particularly minorities, accepted into Ivy League and Tier I universities.

“Most top colleges and universities require a minimum of 600 or 650 on each section of the SAT which includes math, critical reading, and writing,” said EMERGE Academic Program Manager Victoria Chen, who led the camp at Sharpstown. “Students also need to know that many employers ask for SAT scores, even after you earn a college degree.”

In addition to stressing the importance and long-lasting impact of an SAT score, the boot camp drilled students in each of the three subject areas from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., four days a week. Students were also required to do several hours of vocabulary homework a night and take weekly practice exams.

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“I am proud of myself because I didn’t think I was capable of doing this,” said Sharpstown junior Katharine Hercules, who wants to attend Yale University after graduation.

For many of the students, the experience opened their eyes to the importance of doing well on the college entrance exam.

“Before this camp, all I knew about the SAT was that you should take it during your junior or senior year but I didn’t know that certain colleges require certain scores,” said Michael Julian.

Fast forward a month, and Julian not only understands the importance of the SAT but now has the tools to improve his score when he and all other HISD juniors take the SAT during the school day this October. HISD has offered the exam for free, during the school day for the past several years.