Should I apply test-optional? Answered
I understand that the majority of colleges state that students applying test-optional won't necessarily be disadvantaged from those who do submit scores, however, I would like perspectives surrounding that and whether or not I should apply test-optional.
For context, I'm a current Asian-American high school senior whose applying for college right now.
In terms of academics, I have a 4.30 weighted GPA on a 4.0 scale, and for course rigor, by the end of my senior year, I will have taken 13 out of 18 of the AP classes my school offers. I plan on majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations and/or global studies.
In terms of extracurriculars, I'm the President of the National Honor Society, Vice-President of both the Math Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America (I've won two awards, the 1st Place Champion in Business Law for both Regionals and State, and I competed at the National Competition), I'm the Mock Trial Captain (Regional Champion), and Debate Captain (State Champion my Freshman year and was recognized by the school board, then placed 3rd my Junior year, and has helped my coach mentor underclassmen), and a member of the Social Studies Honor Society and Legal Studies Honor Society.
Should I consider applying test-optional to universities like the University of Virginia, William & Mary, Columbia, and Princeton? Or would it be better to take the October SAT? I ended up getting 1270 on the August SAT so I'm not doing too well on that end if I'm applying to colleges where the range is around 1310 to above the 1500s.
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Hi! Because your gpa is high and in line with what those schools are looking for and your test scores are not in line for the most prestigious schools, it may be to your advantage to not send in your scores. If you think you can also write a really good essay that will also help the universities to understand you more and provide context when you don't submit a score. If you do want to submit a score it probably wouldn't hurt to take the SAT again.
The decision is totally up to you. Your activities, GPA, and class rank will also determine if you'll get into these colleges/universities. Of course, you can still take the SAT. If you're not 100% sure, email the college/university for more information or talk to students and alumni.
Honestly, I don't think you really have a choice but to apply test-optional since your SAT score is about 150 pts short of what I think you'd need to submit to some of those schools and about 180 pts short if you are going to compete with other Asians at Princeton and Columbia (1550 is where you need to be as an Asian). Meeting the minimum 25% percentile will not benefit you much because as part of the Asian demographic unfortunately you are held to a higher standard closer to the 75% percentile level. You and others reading this can hate the message but don't hate the messenger if I'm telling you the truth about how race and ethnicity factor into college admissions at Ivys and Elites. They are looking for more diversity and searching to find the most marginalized HS students. Being Chinese, unfortunately, is the most difficult demographic you can apply to colleges with at Top Private institutions. I personally think that at Top Public Research universities like UC Berkeley and UCLA and UCSD where they have eliminated the use of the SAT/ACT, there is more meritocracy in the college admissions. The evidence speaks for itself and that's why 40% of UC Berkeley undergraduates are Asian. This is also why Forbes ranked UCBerkeley Number #1 in their Top College Ranking this week. You can see that UCLA and UCSD are also in the Top 15 as well.
I'm curious about your WGPA at 4.3 if you took 13 APs plus honors classes. What's your UWGPA then? Less than a 3.8? I'm only asking because most of the Ivy's have UWGPA within the 3.90-4.00 range. How are you compensating for a lesser GPA at some of these schools? I'm just asking because of the hypercompetitive admissions process right now.
I don't know if you only took the SAT once or twice or three times but unless you can get your composite up to the 1500s, it's really futile to sign up for the October SAT test dates in my opinion.
The only other advice I can give you, is perhaps to find and replace or just add to your reaches of CU/Princeton some other near Ivys like UCLA, UC Berkeley. Vanderbilt, WashU, Notre-Dame, Rice, or some smaller LACs like Richmond, Washington & Lee, Wake Forest, Davidson, Colgate, Hamilton, Vassar.
Hi! The general rule of thumb that I have seen across the board is to apply test optional if your SAT score is below the 25th percentile of the school you are applying to. You generally only want to submit your SAT if it will help you and scoring below the 25th puts you out of the middle 50% of students accepted. By this rule, you should apply to University of Virginia, William and Mary, Columbia, and Princeton without submitting your SAT score. I hope this helps!
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