9 months ago
Admissions Advice

Should I apply test optional to my reach schools with a 1440?

Should I apply test-optional to Carnegie Mellon and Columbia University with my 1440?

Here's my dilemma -- for both of these schools, I fall below even the 25th percentile score (Carnegie -- 1460, Columbia -- 1450). However, I am applying to be a prospective Creative Writing major at both schools, and my Reading/Writing score -- 760 -- hits the 75th percentile on the nose for both schools. My Math score -- a humbler 680 -- is what pulls my score down.

Will these colleges take into account my competitive performance in the section that corresponds to my intended field, or will they merely look at my 1440 alongside other applicants? Should I submit the score at all?

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
9 months ago


I think your stats are one cycle old from Class of 2023. For Class of 2024 they are the following:

CMU Dietrich College of Humanities & SS- SAT ERB- 740-770 SAT M-790-800 Avg GPA 3.87 ACTE - 35/36 ACTM-34/35 ACT Composite 34/35

But for Class of 2023 it was 1460-1560 or 700/760 english, 760/800 Math which is prob. what you are referring to.

Columbia College in the City of NY - 1500-1560 SAT , 34/35 ACT, similarly Columbia stats went up.

However, the Class of 2025 is an unprecedented year.

Many students do not have test scores. And even if you have test scores, many students had limited opportunities to improve upon those test scores compared to past cycles. I have to believe that peers in the past that had 1440s might have been able to up their scores to a 1500+ if they grinded more and took the test 1 or 2 times more. But that option went away with COVID-19

From the College perspective, there are few things happening that many 12th graders are not aware of.

1.) The yields are going down for 90% of the colleges, not so many T20 schools. That means they have to recruit off their wait-list more agressively.

2.) International students are not applying as much or have decided to take a gap year either because of immigration problems or health and safety concerns.

3.) Fewer Americans are applying to colleges in general. We can see that in EA and ED applications. At UPenn, ED Applications were down year over year an in general many top colleges had a reduction in applications from 2023 to 2024 and that trend is continuing as more peers want to stay closer to home, or save money because of the economic toll of the pandemic or are in fear of their health and safety.

Therefore CollegeVine suggests that if you have an SAT score within 60 pts of the 25% percentile you should submit the SAT score. Your 1440 is within 60pts of Columbias 1500 but 90 pts within CMUs 1530 25% percentile score. However, admit rates are really different for the Class of 2024. Columbia was 6.34% and CMU DC school was 26%.

Therefore I find it odd that anyone would tell you to submit your 1440 to Columbia and not to CMU since it's 4 times less difficult to get into CMU in 2024. And I feel that spread will only widen in 2025 because I feel with test-optional, more students will apply to IVYs and fewer to T25 schools. So the T25 or near Ivys will have to increase their acceptance rate to keep their yields.

In conclusion, I would recommend submitting your 1440 to both Columbia and CMU.

I ran this suggestion by my dad who went to CMU and he agrees that CMU shouldn't be harder than Columbia for stats this cycle.

Hope that helps.

9 months ago


This is a great, nuanced question, and the answer posted earlier is thorough and reflects our thinking here at CollegeVine as well!

In general, when considering whether or not to send scores to test-optional schools, we like to remind people that in most cases, you're more likely to be accepted DESPITE not having scores, not BECAUSE you've omitted them. Further, unless you fall into a special category of applicant (e.g. legacy, in-state for a public university, recruited athlete, or some other incredibly compelling component of your application), you're almost certain to fare better having submitted scores than having eschewed them.

Best of luck!


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