Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Why are the bottom 25% SAT scores so low for the "elite" public colleges?

jim1090jim1090 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
edited April 2012 in College Admissions
My sister is a sophomore and is just starting to think about college.

From UCLA's website, 25% of UCLA's freshmen class score below 1180 (CR and CM).

That's in the 78th percentile. Solid, but definitely not in the elite category.

(Looking at other respectable public schools, I see percentages not too far off, or better, than UCLA:

UVA 85th percentile
Illinois 81st percentile
UNC 80th percentile

Florida 77th percentile
Connecticut 72nd percentile
Wisconsin 76th percentile
Maryland 79th percentile
Pittsburgh 75th percentile

Penn State 64th percentile
Texas 66th percentile
Washington 66th percentile
Rutgers 62nd percentile

Umass 54th percentile
Oregon 47th percentile
Alabama 47th percentile

Stanford's bottom 25% of freshmen are in the 95th percentile.

So it looks like marginal students have a real good shot at getting in to most any public school.
Post edited by jim1090 on

Replies to: Why are the bottom 25% SAT scores so low for the "elite" public colleges?

  • T26E4T26E4 Registered User Posts: 24,274 Senior Member
    "So it looks like marginal students have a real good shot at getting in to most any public school."

    Maybe step back and think about your analysis. Many of these schools have large athletic programs which have a much broader spectrum of acceptance. Unless you're one of these recruitable athletes, you'd be crazy to assume a "real good shot" of any single one of these colleges unless you're plainly above the lower 25th percentile.
  • jim1090jim1090 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    That makes no sense!

    At a school like Wisconsin, between the football team, men's and women's bb, track, etc., there are fewer than 1000 athletes.

    That's fewer than 250 per class. Wisconsin has 6,000 freshmen. The lowest quartile make up 2,000 freshmen. And of the 200 per freshmen class athletes, I'm sure many of them have scores above the 76th percentile, especially the athletes in the nonrevenue sports.

    I could see your point if there were maybe 1500 or 2000 freshmen.

    The SAT scores for the other UC campuses for the lowest 25% are even more mediocre.

    UC Irvine is 62nd percentile.
    UC Santa Barbara 65th percentile
    UC Riverside 39th percentile
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    ^I was just going to post something similar. No way can the numbers be attributed to athletes at those large universities. UT has 38,000 students and only 18 sports (so maybe 450 athletes, total or 115 per year). Even assuming that all of the athletes are stupid (which is patently wrong), their scores won't make a dent in the SAT scores averages.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,555 Senior Member
    They may consider test scores to be less important in admissions than high school record (e.g. at least some UCs, and also Texas public universities with respect to automatic admits by rank alone).

    But remember also that public universities often admit by division or major, so that some divisions or majors may be much more selective than others. The "low end" of the incoming freshmen by stats may be more concentrated in the less selective divisions or majors.
  • redpointredpoint Registered User Posts: 1,235 Senior Member
    "So it looks like marginal students have a real good shot at getting in to most any public school."

    So you are condemning people as "marginal students" simply because you aren't impressed with their test sores? Really? There's nothing else important about a candidate other than his or her scores? And what about those people who are great writers but suck in math, which brings down their scores, or visa versa.

    I hope you never become an admissions officer.
  • HiimColeHiimCole Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    I'm honestly not that surprised by these stats. Public universities have a duty to their respective states to admit as many in state students as possible. Universities such as the ones you listed are great institutions, but they also have thousands of spots for their freshman classes. That, along with the fact that they accept probably well over half of their applicants and know that many of the better students won't attend, adds up to lower average scores.
  • redpointredpoint Registered User Posts: 1,235 Senior Member
    Threads like these often sound like musings on ways to feel superior. Heavens, it's awful how they let the riff raff in.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,425 Senior Member
    From UCLA's website, 25% of UCLA's freshmen class score below...

    The UCs make clear that gpa is much more important than test scores. Plus, California has a lot of non-native English speakers; clearing 700 is hard enough even for some who score a 5 in AP Lit.

    Feel free to apply to UCLA with "marginal" stats and see how far that gets you. :)
  • annasdadannasdad Registered User Posts: 4,827 Senior Member
    To tag onto ucbalum's response, at least at UIUC, you can't look just at the aggregate scores. For example, the College of Engineering's 25th ACT percentile is at 30; the College of Education's 75th is at 29.

  • momknowsbest3momknowsbest3 Registered User Posts: 144 Junior Member
    I can tell you why UT has these kind of numbers: it is the ten percent rule. They have to let the top ten percent in. So if you have an inner city kid that is in the top ten percent and has a 1800 on the SAT, they have to let him or her in over a suburban kid that has a 2100 but isn't in his top ten percent.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    I can't believe the arrogance in calling SAT percentiles in the 70-80's range as "low" or "marginal"...
  • momsquadmomsquad Registered User Posts: 998 Member
    I've posted this numerous times, but here it is again. Look at the scatterplots for admitted students. Below is a link which represents self-reported data from kids using a particular web site, likely to be highly motivated kids. GPA is the almighty ruler in UC admissions, there is even talk of dispensing with SAT altogether. A painfully detailed analysis of SAT scores and acceptance rates was published as an e-book with the title something like "Fox parent's guide to college acceptance". He also noted the lack of correlation between SAT score and UC admission. His data showed UIUC had the highest SAT scores relative to admission rate (high rate of admission AND high SAT scores), and advocated that school as a 'good deal' for those willing to suffer through winter in central Illinois (as I did for 4 years).

    University of California, Los Angeles Scatterplots | Parchment - College admissions predictions.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    momsquad, on the plot you linked, there is a strong positive correlation between SAT score and admission.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,627 Senior Member
    Those marginal students probably have some hook....

    1) athletes

    2) Artists with portfolios

    3) performers - music, singers, actors.

    so, the average Joe with modest scores wouldn't qualify.

    As an aside....at the UCs, some of these kids may be high GPA kids from low-performing schools.

    The UCs and some other state schools heavily weight GPAs so that some additional URMs and kids from poor schools can get in.
  • redpointredpoint Registered User Posts: 1,235 Senior Member
    Again, please stop calling these kids with good scores marginal. Do you know how offensive it sounds? As if people are their test scores. As if these scores are actually marginal. And even if your scores are great, that doesn't make you a more worthwhile person.
This discussion has been closed.