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Retake 760 Math for Caltech?

agun77agun77 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
Last March, I took the SAT and achieved a composite score of 2310 (800 CR, 760 M, 750 W). The Math curve was infuriatingly harsh that month, and I lost 40 points for one wrong answer.

I am a bit worried about this, because according to the College Board website, Caltech's middle 50% of SAT Math scores was 770-800, which puts me in the bottom 25%. I fear that I could be at a disadvantage compared to the many other Asians who score 800s on Math. I did score 800 on Math Level 2, but I feel that is fairly common among Caltech applicants.

Should I retake the SAT to raise my Math score, or do you think I should leave it as it is? By the way, I am better at ACT Math, but I don't know if any colleges pay much attention to ACT subscores.
Post edited by agun77 on

Replies to: Retake 760 Math for Caltech?

  • gravitas2gravitas2 Registered User Posts: 1,474 Senior Member
    Don't. Unnecessary. You are already very competitive with your scores...if you have a high GPA to go along with outstanding extracurricular activity(ies) (preferably STEM related or otherwise), great ESSAYS and RECOMMENDATIONS, then you will be a viable candidate...

    ...the rest, the intangibles...we can't predict.
  • ChemysteryChemystery Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    You know, I have a friend who qualified for the US IMO team, which makes him one of the best mathematicians in the world. His opinion regarding SAT math is that it's completely worthless. He once said to me that the best policy for a good mathematician is to purposely fail the math SAT section and do well on other math-related activities (USAMO, ARML, etc.) to prove to colleges that you're good enough to not have to care about standardized tests.

    I have a lot of other friends who qualified for USNCO camp or won ARML, and the thing is, it's kind of a point of pride for us to brag about how much we failed SAT (because it's obvious that it's beneath us lol).

    While that may be a bit extreme, there is a point to our madness - please don't care too much about SAT scores, as long as you demonstrate that you don't actually fail at math. A 760 and an 800 are pretty much the same thing, especially for math, which has a harsh curve. Qualify for USAMO this year or something, and the 760 truly makes no difference at all. Your other stats should prove that you're already a great mathematician.
  • chewydogchewydog Registered User Posts: 770 Member
    Food for the thought: I got a 770 on the SAT II Math 2 test.
  • originalthoughtoriginalthought Registered User Posts: 378 Member
    Don't retake it unless you literally don't do anything else math related. The Math SAT I is useless above a certain point because the margin for error is so small that a simple oversight or lack of attention to a certain detail will easily drop you 30 points. If the admissions office has any real sense of how to evaluate applicants, I assume they really look for math ability through real math competitions or coursework.
  • collegealum314collegealum314 Registered User Posts: 6,768 Senior Member
    ^I agree with this poster. Don't retake unless you have done nothing else in math outside of school.

    They won't care at all about the difference between 760 and 800. Getting one wrong on a remedial test is not a black mark; people are allowed to make one stupid mistake.

    If two people both qualify for AIME with the same score, and one has a 760 and the other 800, the person with the 800 doesn't have any advantage. The decision will be made some other way.
  • sosomenzasosomenza - Posts: 2,122 Senior Member
    Actually, a reasonable fear for Caltech. As a math guy, you know the decision is based on the probability of scoring over a 760 without negatively affecting the other scores. The average of several practice tests might give you the information you need. On the other hand Caltech is smart enough to know that you only missed one question and might expect you to be smart enough to know that it is smart enough and not to worry about it. GL with this one. BTW my opinion is that you're done!
  • collegealum314collegealum314 Registered User Posts: 6,768 Senior Member
    Actually, a reasonable fear for Caltech. As a math guy, you know the decision is based on the probability of scoring over a 760 without negatively affecting the other scores.

    My opinion is if you make ARML or qualify for the AIME, then getting 800 SAT math is not an advantage over 760. That is, good performance on a much harder math exam shows that the 760 is the result of a stupid mistake, and that will not be viewed as having any bearing on performance at Caltech.
  • muhammad9211muhammad9211 Registered User Posts: 1,002 Senior Member
    Usually colleges, i know MIT does, view a scores above 700 the same. Since the difference between a 700 and 800 is only a few questions
  • collegealum314collegealum314 Registered User Posts: 6,768 Senior Member
    ^With Caltech, it's more like they view the difference between 760 and 800 the same.
This discussion has been closed.