4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Improve my SAT 1 score or do SAT 2 tests?

Should I focus on improving my 1420 in SAT 1 or do SAT subject tests instead? How important are the SAT subject tests?

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2 answers

4 years ago

It really depends on what school you are applying to.

If the school you are applying to has a 50% middle range of 1500-1570, then you should try to improve your 1420 to at least a 1440 but aiming for 1500.

If the school you are applying to has a 50^ middle range of 1400-1500, then you are good to go and I recommend you work on the SAT 2 subject tests.

CV feels that this cycle as long as you are within 60 pts of the lower bound of the middle 50%, you should submit your scores.

Keep in mind that 400+ schools have made both the ACT and SAT test optional with a few going Test Blind (won't even look at them if you submit) As a subset of the SAT suite, I would say the SAT 2s are even less required than previous years. Some schools like MIT have changed their policy to making SAT 2s Test-Blind, so they will not consider them in your application review.

If you have both strong grades, strong course rigor, and have done well on APs like getting mostly 4s and 5s, I would not worry too much about SAT 2s this admissions cycle.

Best of luck in your college admissions process.

3 years ago

Something you also might want to keep in mind is that College Board is no longer offering subject tests. So, they may not be as valued anymore in admissions. I believe I've read that some schools are no longer even considering them to be fair for those who didn't have a chance to take them.

Personally, I would focus on the SAT I because it often acts as a factor in getting your application read or passing the academic threshold of a school, while subject tests act as supplements once you pass the threshold.

I'll attach something I read from College Panda on SAT I in college admissions below. I've done some independent digging around on the internet, too, and Nielson's assertion seems to be correct.

College Admissions: The Hygiene Factor

"When I was a teacher in Hong Kong, the director loved to tell students that the SAT/ACTs are like the hygiene factor.

He explained it like this:

Would you date a guy or a girl who didn't brush their teeth or take showers?

Your answer, hopefully, is no.

But just because they brush their teeth doesn't mean you'll go out with them.

In other words, basic hygiene is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for your date.

To relate this back to your college applications, admissions officers look at your test scores like you would your date's hygiene.

They need to be good enough, but they're not sufficient by themselves to get you admitted. They can get you rejected, but they can't guarantee that you get in.

A good SAT or ACT score is simply what it takes for the elite schools to take you seriously. Different colleges will have different thresholds. For example, Harvard typically looks for scores above a 1500 whereas Boston University might find a 1350 acceptable. Most universities publish their test score statistics for each class. You'll want to score around the 75th percentile for that university to have a good chance (75th percentile means you scored better than 75% of the other students at the university). Why? Because the students who got in with lower scores are usually underrepresented minorities, recruited athletes, and legacy students. If you don't have those "hooks," you'll want to have better scores to be in the running.

I hope this gives you a better idea of how test scores are used in the college admissions process. Stay tuned for more in-depth advice!


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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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