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10 months ago
Admissions Advice
[edited]

Should I take SAT even if it is test optional?
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Hi, I know this question is asked a lot but I want to add my perspective. I am a rising senior. I have a 3.98 unweighted GPA and by the end of my senior year will have taken 4 honors courses and 5 AP courses. My activities include National Honor Society (secretary for my senior year), Journalism (editor), drama club, film club, Student Ambassadors, Student Gov. (9th/10th grade), and Varsity Softball/Basketball. I also created an environmental club/initiative at my school. My dream university is Duke. So far, I've attended three different high schools overseas in three years because my dad is in the military. I never got to take the SAT because of COVID-19 and I am wondering if I need to now. Since Duke is now test-optional I don't think I need to take an SAT because since I never took it I feel it will harm my chances of getting into Duke. (I got 1160 on my junior PSAT.) Should I take the SAT?

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Accepted Answer
10 months ago

Test-optional policies were really put into place to give an advantage to the students who take the exam. Sure, by not taking the SAT your chances will be lower than they would be otherwise, but honestly, I think you are fine even without it. Do yourself a favor and take one SAT practice test and see what you score. If you’re not above like a 1400 don’t even bother since it will take you a LOT of time and effort to raise your score and you might not even have time. For Duke to be competitive you want to submit a score of 1450 or higher, ideally a 1500 or higher. IF you don’t think you can get up to that score by whenever you’re able to sit for the exam (if you can even still register; there aren’t a lot of seats left) don’t take it. It will look really bad if you submit a lower than ideal test score. Think of it this way- would you rather the college think you are academically not capable of their course load, or be neutral and have no indicator of the SAT? I think you should just see (hypothetically) what your score would be and go from there.

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10 months ago

Since Duke middle 50% is like 1460/1570 something like that, I wouldn't submit and SAT score unless you think you could improve on your PSAT 1160 by 300 points or greater. You have no less than 5 opportunities to take the SAT however most people would honestly tell you that getting a 300 point increase will only happen if you start now and work all summer and put like 150-200 hours into studying all the write books, excelling at Kahn Academy and taking 10 or more full-length practice tests. This is not for everyone. There are some very motivated students on youtube that have shown a 300 point progression from the PSAT to SAT but it's not easy. I improved from my 10th grade PSAT to 11th grade 130 pts and then 90 more pts to my current SAT. And I mostly studied last summer and put about 150 hours 6 days a week, studying 5 days M-F and then taking a weekly practice test. It's hard to stay motivated because your practice test scores are not always linear improvements. Mine looked like a see saw so sometimes it got 1300 and then 1490 and then back down to 1370 then up to 1450. Also depending on what version of the SAT you get, it might be curved easier on math or curved easier on English. You might miss only 1 section questions and get docked 30 pts, or 50 pts for 2 wrong. And the same raw score on another exam might be a 780/790, not a 750. It's really up to you but don't sign up for it unless you are willing to put the effort into it.

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10 months ago[edited]

Hi there! Personally, I think your courses, grades, and extracurriculars look great. If you think you're good to go, then don't waste your time studying and taking the SAT. Good luck on getting into your dream school! You got this.

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