I was not a great student in high school. I did well enough so that everyone left me alone, but I was much more interested in being social than with academics in studying.*

I did so horribly on the SATs back then, that my options were narrowed to colleges that didn't require the scores (i.e. Bennington, Bard, Sarah Lawrence, and Hampshire).

Not that this makes me feel any better, but my pitiful scores from 1982 would actually appear slightly better if I took that same test today. In fact, the 480 I scored in 1982 on the math section would have been a 510 in 2011 -- which happens to be the exact same math score I got when I took the SATs for the first time in nearly 30 years in January, 2011.

SAT scores were re-centered in 1995 because the center had fallen (i.e. 500 was now an above-average score). It's like going to the Gap and finding out that you suddenly fit into a size 2 when you were a size 6 last time you checked. It sure feels good, but the fact of the matter is that you didn't lose any weight they just made the sizes bigger. Same thing with the SATs. As far as I can tell, no one seems to be aware of the fallen SAT average, except for my good friend and SAT mentor, Catherine Johnson. Catherine's a treasure trove of SAT information.

The good news is that I managed to have a pretty successful life, despite my appalling SAT scores.

The bad news is that I regret having squandered my high school education.

2011 is my year to make up for lost time. You can read more about my crazy quest on the About Page of my site.  I try to log my process daily in my project diary.  Hopefully some useful information will come out of this experience that will be helpful for others.

* I made a classic SAT Writing Passage mistake here: "faulty parallelism."

llustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Copyright Debbie Stier

About the Authors

Catherine Johnson Ph.D.
Catherine Johnson, Ph.D. is an "afterschooling" parent and co-author of Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.

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