8 months ago
Admissions Advice

I'm wondering if I should submit my ACT score or go test optional for certain schools like Dartmouth and Cornell?

I just got my ACT scores back this week and got a 33. I was disappointed and was hoping for a 34/35. I am applying early to either Dartmouth or Cornell and was curious if I should go test-optional or submit my 33, which is on the bubble for those schools. I have a 4.0+ and strong extracurriculars. Thoughts?

🎉 First post
Let’s welcome @JulieJ to the community! Remember to be kind, helpful, and supportive in your responses.

Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

2 answers

Accepted Answer
8 months ago[edited]

@JulieJ, for what it's worth, my son is in a similar situation. His college counselor offers similar advice and ask him to hold back SAT reporting for schools where his score lies in the lower half of the mid-50% range. The reasoning is slightly different though. The counselor predicts the (relatively) low scorers would likely choose not reporting, so the range for this year reported score is likely higher. Since my son has an overall strong profile sans SAT score, the counselor prefers him not having the SAT score to tarnish an otherwise strong application.

I think at the end no one really knows how things work out in this bizarre year. The college counselor claims that every admission officer she spoke with insists "optional" means "optional". On the other hand, you have Brown and Columbia composing a 200 word statement that further confuses people. After all, 1600 SAT/36 ACT does not guarantee admission. I think we just have to go with the gut and chooses the way we are most comfortable with.

8 months ago


My recommendation is that you submit the 33 Composite score which is an excellent score.

I looked at the Dartmouth 2019-2020 Common data set and their 50% middle was 32 to 35 or 33.5 avg.

Cornell's 2018-2019 was also 32 to 35 or 33.5 avg.

Keep in mind that Cornell's stats were softer for the Class of 2024 and they opted or refused to submit a common data set for last year. If such an animal existed I think it would be 31-34 because a.) they had to go to the waitlist to fill many seats and b.) their admit rate crept up to what people think is like 12.3 to 12.6% from 10.6%, that's a big hit. It was less problematic at Dartmouth but their admit rate crept up .9 from 7.9% to 8.8% so I think their stats were flat like 32/35. But this year both schools could very well be posting similar stats but keep in mind that 1/3 or more will not submit a test score and that means there will be implied ACT inflation on the next set of CDS results.

You should be proud that you have a 33 score to submit. There is nothing wrong at all to have a 33 and apply to all the Ivies for that matter.

Good luck with your decision, even though I think Dartmouth is ever so slightly more interesting than being in Ithaca.


Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works