7 months ago
Admissions Advice

Take both ACT and SAT


Is it ok to take ACT exam even if I've already got near perfect SAT score? Will it throw a negative image (i.e. a nerd) to the admission officers? Shall I send ACT and SAT scores to different schools to reduce such negative image?

Thank you very much!

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1 answer

7 months ago

Hi Anonymous,

I've read that, essentially, standardized test scores are mostly used in admissions as a factor to gauge whether or not you meet a school's "academic threshold." One really good way that I've heard it explained is that the SAT is a "Hygiene Factor." I'll add the email I received from College Panda that characterizes it as this below.

If you have a 1570+ (or even a 1550+) there is no need to retake because 36 Composite on the ACT equates to 1570-1600 on the SAT in the eyes of most admissions officers. A reference link is attached below and you can just search for "SAT ACT score conversion" on Google for more.

In essence, taking the ACT if you already have a 1570+ SAT would hold virtually no benefit. If you did so with a 1550+ the benefit would most likely be marginal or even negligible.

SAT ACT Score Conversion: https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-SAT-Concordance-Tables.pdf

College Admissions: The Hygiene Factor

"When I was a teacher in Hong Kong, the director loved to tell students that the SAT/ACTs are like the hygiene factor.

He explained it like this:

Would you date a guy or a girl who didn't brush their teeth or take showers?

Your answer, hopefully, is no.

But just because they brush their teeth doesn't mean you'll go out with them.

In other words, basic hygiene is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for your date.

To relate this back to your college applications, admissions officers look at your test scores like you would your date's hygiene.

They need to be good enough, but they're not sufficient by themselves to get you admitted. They can get you rejected, but they can't guarantee that you get in.

A good SAT or ACT score is simply what it takes for the elite schools to take you seriously. Different colleges will have different thresholds. For example, Harvard typically looks for scores above a 1500 whereas Boston University might find a 1350 acceptable. Most universities publish their test score statistics for each class. You'll want to score around the 75th percentile for that university to have a good chance (75th percentile means you scored better than 75% of the other students at the university). Why? Because the students who got in with lower scores are usually underrepresented minorities, recruited athletes, and legacy students. If you don't have those "hooks," you'll want to have better scores to be in the running.

I hope this gives you a better idea of how test scores are used in the college admissions process. Stay tuned for more in-depth advice!



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