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β€’ 09/17/2020 at 01:15PM

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

β€’ 09/17/2020 at 04:56PM[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.

Accepted Answer
[🎀 AUTHOR]@RaTe09/17/2020 at 11:40PM

Hi @vassarfudge! Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I will definitely consider your points; I think you might be right, maybe submitting the tests will be good for me. Do you think it's necessary to clarify in the additional information section that I took it once during Junior year? Or is that information already included when I send the scores/self-report?

@vassarfudge09/18/2020 at 03:44AM

I would reserve the Addl Info section for something that sells your positive attributes not mentioned in the rest of the application. It will be understood and implied that you only took the SAT 1 time, so you don't have to worry about it. They're experts. Good Luck.

09/18/2020 at 02:26PM

Great answer here - just wanted to share another resource on test-optional admissions, written by one of our founders:

β€’ 09/17/2020 at 03:20PM[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.

@adri09/17/2020 at 04:47PM

Issue with that is that there are states like California with big COVID restrictions/wildfires that are causing tests to be canceled for the rest of the year.

[🎀 AUTHOR]@RaTe09/17/2020 at 11:38PM

Yes! I live in Mexico and all testing up until December is cancelled. December is a big question mark, so really the likelihood of retaking is little none.

@Ash031809/18/2020 at 01:04AM

Sorry, that would indeed be a big issue. Looks like you got some great advice above about submitting the scores you have, which are great. Good luck!

@adri09/18/2020 at 11:24PM

Yes, I live in California! And with the smoke, fires, and COVID surge, there's no way we'll have testing this fall.