By Dr. Wayne Adams

 Now that fall is in full swing, high school students are caught up in a frenzy of studies and activities.    

   MOST SENORS are in the throes of college applications and making preparations to take a final round of  SAT/ACT Exams.

   MANY JUNIORS are wondering about their PSAT Exam results and how to improve.

   MANY SOPHOMORES have started thinking about how they will prepare for the rigors of college applications and exams in their futures. 

    EVERYONE is thinking about Bright Futures’ Scholarships – which can mean around $18,000 – $25,000 for tuition and some additional costs at UF, FSU, USF, UCF, and other public universities in Florida.

   Plus, this award can be a powerful negotiating tool when talking with private universities inside and outside of Florida when families know how to use it – as shown in my Negotiating with Colleges Guide that every one of my students receives. This has helped many of my families save $1,000 to $10,000 a year in college costs.

   Shortly after the last SAT Exam, I received this email from one of my students: “The SAT went well today for me. I followed all of our plans and your mental coaching was especially effective today (I felt like I was in control and I used our vision imagining mind clearing technique). I finished every section with time left and there were very few questions I didn’t understand, so I feel great about this attempt. Thank you for all your help this far, and I look forward to our future work. Thanks for your mentorship and efforts.”

    Also, I always receive many calls from parents and students about this time for what I call the “EXAM BLUES”. The cause is that a strong student, often in IB, multiple AP classes, or dual-enrolled; did not score at the level expected on their SAT or ACT Exam earlier in the fall, or on their PSAT in October. 

   The inevitable questions are “Why”, and “What can we do about it?”


   In my experience helping students improve their SAT and ACT scores, there are three major reasons. 

Reason #1: Most high school students lack key fundamentals such as having had phonics, grammar, “recall” vocabulary, critical thinking, and the mathematics needed to do well on these exams. For example, it is unusual to find students who can correctly use basic punctuation such as commas and semicolons.

Reason #2: Educational directions in most high schools do not match what is required to do well on the SAT and ACT. For example, pre-calculus, most geometry, and most algebra courses poorly prepare for these exams. The fact is that most students have had all the arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry on these exams by the tenth grade.

Reason #3: Most Prep Classes in high school are woefully inadequate. Recently, I learned that a leading private high school used the worst SAT prep book on the market today and the students were bored to death. In other words, prep classes are seen as “fluff” breaks between the real “academic” work at school … yet the SAT and ACT results often have more impact on students’ future (admissions and scholarships) than most classes in high school.  


   The Good News: I consistently find that students respond incredibly well and improve when they become both teacher and student as in a college seminar at the junior or senior level where I am their coach. My role is to quickly help them determine where they need to work and to be a resource as they progress. Lecturing is no substitute for determining a student’s baseline level and then structuring their learning around their needs. It is very satisfying to see their motivations soar when their perspective changes from “Can I do this?” to “I can do this well.” and then to “Let me show you how well I can do.” They discover that real competition is internal and – when they do their best – external results take care of themselves. Learning the strategies often results in comments like, “Cool” and “That makes it a lot easier”. More importantly, they learn how to “learn for a lifetime”.


   “I wanted you to know that my SAT score just came back and I got 1430. What a jump. Thanks so much for all your help with the exam, and the many ‘life lessons’ we discussed during classes.

   “In one of my high school classes, the teacher asked how we had done on the ACT. My classmates were very surprised when I said ‘32’. Several asked who had helped me, and I gave them your name and phone number.”

   “My college essay is far better now. Thank you!”

   “Our family is working together through your book How To Survive And Thrive As A New Freshman At A Secular University. Things have changed a lot since we went to college. Thanks for helping us prepare for what is coming soon.”

   If You Would Like To Talk More About Your Student …Please contact me at 727-253-0639 or send me an e mail at

Dr. Wayne Adams is one of the leading SAT and ACT tutors in the country.  His students normally improve around 200 points on the Writing, Reading, Writing and Essay, and Math; and 4 – 7 points on the ACT composite. They have been admitted to 9 of the top 10 universities in the country, 18 of the top 25, 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, Naval – Air Force – 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. He has also had three students who were National Merit Finalists. 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.