Do Ivy League schools care about A’s vs. A minuses?
Do Ivy League schools care if I am getting several A minuses (vs. A’s) in AP or honors classes?
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I have followed the Harvard lawsuit and the documents that evidenced how they rank applicants in the admissions process. And I feel Harvard is the hardest Ivy to get into therefore I also feel that their ranking system sets the bar for the other 7 Ivy League schools as well. With regards to academics, the Harvard score sheets rank Academics from 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest and 5 being the lowest. Less than 1% of admits have a 1 or the "Summa Cum Laude" Potential score which requires the applicant to be a 1.) Genuine Scholar 2.) Have near-perfect scores on Grades and Standardized tests, 3.) Show unusual creativity and 4.) Provide evidence of original scholarship. Most of the admits score in the 2 range which includes scores of 2+, 2, and 2-. These applicants have "Magna Cum Laude" potential and have 1.) Superb grades, 2.) Mid to high 700 SAT scores on each part of the test (so that means 1500+) or 33+ on the ACT test. Keep in mind that Harvard DOES NOT super-score so if you got a 1450 and 1430 but your super-score is 1510, they only count the 1450 and similarly if you got a 31 and 32 but your super-score is a 33, they will only count the 32. But more importantly, the take away is that they will not reward or penalize someone who has 1500 versus a 1570 or someone who submits a 33 versus a 35.
Test scores are used to meet a benchmark to get a rating, and nothing more. The other take away which is also just as important to understand is just because everyone tells you that you need to have an SAT or ACT score that sits comfortably in the middle of the 50% percentile admit score, doesn't mean that that is the same criteria the college is using to qualify applicants. So if you read Harvard's common data set for 2019-2020 the SAT range is 1460-1570 but the Lawsuit documents show a 1500+ so what you have to do is some mental math and assume that they were more lenient on 1.)recruited athletes, 2.)legacy 3.)development candidates 4.) children of Harvard employees and 5.) special consideration dean's list applicants (that's the Dean of Harvard Admissions not the Dean of your private school).
Therefore, they really do not care if you get an A+, and A or an A- in AP or an Honors Class. Harvard especially has something like 200+ Criteria for all applicants and their holistic evaluation is unique and more complicated than any other college in America unless someone can prove otherwise. I would expect a school that is very STEM-focused like JHU, Rice, or CalTech to scrutinize grades more since their typical stats are higher than Harvards. Also, keep in mind that CalTech is "test blind" so they do not look at the SAT/ACT or SAT II subject test which implies that grades and course rigor are at the forefront of their admissions criteria right now.
Good luck with your college admissions process.
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