4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Should a 2021 student submit an SAT score that lies in the 25th percentile?

Hi! I only took the test once during junior year. I scored a 1470. My top choice universities are UChicago, Northwestern, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford. Do you think that it would work in my favor, put me at a disadvantage, or have no effect at all if I submit that SAT?


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
4 years ago[edited]

Congrats on having a great 1470 first time score and actually being able to submit a score. More than 1/2 of my classmates do not have an SAT or ACT score to submit

I think submitting an SAT of 1470 will work to your advantage for the following reasons

1.) 1470 is well within the 50% percentile range based on published Common Data Set SAT scores for these colleges.

2.) You only took the test for 1 time. And most admissions officers know that high achieving students can improve their scores 50 to 100 pts with additional test prep and taking the test multiple times to get a superscore. Gaming the system is part of the college admissions process and if you take the test 1 or even 2 more times, you are taking some chances because a.) you can get COVID-19, b.) you do not have adequate time to prep enough to guaranty a higher score while you are trying to keep your grades up and write college applications, c.) if you get a lower score or an equivalent score, that will be negative.

3.) All the schools are TEST OPTIONAL this cycle and since ALL of them have stated that not submitting a score will not negatively impact you, implied in that statement is that if you do submit a score, that could benefit you especially if it meets the standardized test threshold. For example at Harvard, as long as you are in the range, they treat all scores as a "2" (either a 2+, 2, 2-) because that is the threshold for Magna Cum Laude applicants. I've been told that less than 1% of applicants are considered a "1" Summa Cum Laude applicant. You need to have some exceptional academic talent beyond grades and test scores to be considered Summa.

4.) All these schools use a holistic approach to evaluating applicants. Test scores are only 1 of 100 criteria that Harvard uses. They like all the other college reject the majority of applicants with perfect grades and test scores. Therefore only think of the test score as a "checkbox" but think of the quality of your essay, recommendations, interview, and ECs as more of a determining factor because it directly correlates to your character, your passions, interests, and talent. Your application represents about 1200 days of your teen life while your SAT score represents only 4 hours of 1 singular day. It would be illogical for any of these schools to place that much weight and importance to test scores this application cycle when all of them (400 of the top schools) have made them optional or completely irrelevant (CalTech).

Cornell (2019) CDS SAT Composite 1420/1540

Harvard (2020) CDS SAT Composite 1460/1570

Stanford (2020) CDS SAT Composite 1440/1550

Northwestern (2020) CDS SAT Composite 1450/1540

UChicago Class of 2024 Avg. SAT 1518

I'm also attaching a link to an Atlantic magazine article about the weight of the SAT in the admissions process. It may help you with your decision.


Best of luck in your college admissions journey.

4 years ago[edited]

There are still three upcoming SAT test administrations that you can register for this fall that will get your scores to colleges in time. I would strongly recommend registering for 1-2 of them: Oct. 3 (can still do late registration), Nov. 7, and Dec. 5. Why not try to boost your scores while there is still some time? If you got a 1470 last year, chances are (especially with super scoring) you could bring up your score above a 1500, and maybe above 1550 with some work. While those schools are test optional, it would still help your application to be able to submit scores that are more in line with their averages if you can.

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


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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