2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Do colleges look at SAT scores as a whole?

I plan to major in an English related field. My overall SAT score was decent but I did a lot better on the English portion than the math. I am planning on retaking my SATs to bring up my math score. I was wondering if colleges only consider SAT scores as a whole or if the place more weight on the part that relates to what you want to study. If my application has a humanities based spike, will a high score on the English portion be enough to get me into a good school?


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Accepted Answer
2 years ago

The short answer is that colleges do look at both the composite score and the individual scores. If you are STEM major and have a low Math section, that doesn't look good. But if you are a humanities major, having a differential of 50-100 pts might not be a big deal. You don't get a "Pass" for a low Math score, but there is less weight to it if you do not intend of being a STEM or Business Major (math counts).

The way SAT test results typically work is that if you are a very average tester and get the most average score of 1060 it typically breaks down as 530/530 or right in the middle of the bell curve. However since most high achieving students are typically slightly better in Math than English (for instance Asian students), the test results for this group doesn't move in lock step. High achievers typically have a higher math score of +-50 pts. (range is lets say 20-80 points). If you were to study the average SAT scores of Top 25-50 schools you will see a pattern of higher Math vs EBRW scores. So someone submitting a 1450 might have a 700 E/750 M or someone submitting a 1550 might have a 750 E/800 M. It's rather unusual to have it the other way around however I will say that I've noticed that High Achieving girls typically have higher EBRW scores so their 1450 might be a 750 E / 700 M. At Women's colleges like Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Barnard, Wellesley, you see less of wide spread of test scores and often some admits have lower math scores.

The bottom line is that it is much more difficult to improve your English score than your Math score. With some careful studying you can get your Math up from 620-750 but that is not the case with English. If you have 620 English, maybe you get get to 700.

That being said, you are in a good position to get your Math score up. I recommend using all the College Panda series of study guides and Dr. Chung's SAT math. If you are still stuck, then sign up for SuperTutorTV's online course. It's very good.

A couple cycles back I watched some youtube videos of some girls who got into Stanford with low Math scores in the low 600s and a composite of mid 1300s so getting in to a top schools even without 1500s is entirely possible.

Good luck.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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