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SAT subject tests are NOT truly optional for middle/upper middle class applicants at elite colleges!

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Replies to: SAT subject tests are NOT truly optional for middle/upper middle class applicants at elite colleges!

  • sarajayhawksarajayhawk 42 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited September 2018
    I'd never even heard of subject tests until this year and I'm a senior but I go to a school in the midwest with no AP's, however, I have taken dual credit courses. Our guidance counselors discourage taking the psat and discourage taking the ACT as a sophomore.
    edited September 2018
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  • homerdoghomerdog 6435 replies111 threads Senior Member
    @PeterApostolakis I'm glad to hear that about Dartmouth. Just as a second data point, S19 knows two recruited athletes hopefully going to Dartmouth. They are supported and applying ED. Neither are sending SAT2 scores. Were told they did not need to take them. They WERE told that they needed certain SAT scores and they will be best off if they get all As first quarter. That shows me what's important to Dartmouth. Our S will be applying without SAT2s but with a very strong SAT, GPA, and many 5s on APs.
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  • lostaccountlostaccount 5331 replies90 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2018
    Wouldn't it be great if those schools stating that tests are optional intended to assist low income students? In fact, most schools that moved to test optional (and this took hold during a tough economic stretch) did so because they were having difficulty attracting enough wealthy students with high scores to fill their seats. They got enough applicants from wealthy families to fill those seats but many had scores below their 25%-75% ranges. And most of their applicants were strong enough to be successful at the school. But, accepting those students would tank the school's posted score averages and lower their rankings on US News and other ranking systems. That, in turn, would result in fewer applicants and send the school in a downward spiral.

    By moving to "test optional" colleges can now accept as many of those full pay students with lousy scores as needed to fill a class without soiling their rankings. That strategy fills a lot of seats that would otherwise have been left unfilled. Oddly enough, it also improves their ranking because those full pay students with mediocre scores, just high enough to squeak by as full pay students in the past, will omit their scores now.

    Low income students can and do get waivers so that they can take the tests and send their scores to schools free. Further, while everything obviously adds up, the cost of taking the tests and sending scores pales in comparison to all other costs.

    Some people complain about what they view as an unfair advantage given to legacy or other groups they aren’t members of. For schools that don’t have need blind admissions, full pay is the best ticket in town and probably confers a much larger advantage then almost any other variable for those schools that are not need blind. I'd love to see a grid on the CDS in Section C labeled Admissions scores and grades by CSS standing on Need Based aid.
    edited September 2018
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  • tR5674tR5674 35 replies1 threads Junior Member
    "Our guidance counselors discourage taking the psat"


    What the heck are they thinking? Bad advice.
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  • CentristCentrist 6 replies1 threads New Member
    edited September 2018
    what of kids who are in a school that lacks any such testing culture?
    edited September 2018
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  • kanagawakanagawa 106 replies12 threads Junior Member
    why is taking the psat so important? especially if the student is taking the act, i dont think they can even qualify for merit scholarship if they don't take both the psat and the sat
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9149 replies91 threads Senior Member
    The PSAT is what makes a student eligible for National Merit.
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 183 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Personally, things like this make me so fed up with the whole admissions process.
    If colleges say they're optional, they should be optional for everyone -- for real. Students shouldn't have to read between the lines and analyze how their income/background/HS (which is totally out of their control!) is going to somehow bias the admissions office towards or against their application.

    I get that colleges are trying to recruit more low-income students and take into account the opportunities each student has, and that's great. But it's unfair to have a completely different set of standards for low-income students, since colleges are clearly implying that they don't need SAT Subject tests to admit a student.

    I don't even get the point of SAT Subject tests! If you've already taken an AP test, you've proven -- by the admission of both the College Board and the colleges themselves -- that you have shown college-level mastery in a given subject. So why is a subject test in the exact same subject necessary?? Just have students report AP scores instead; if the school doesn't offer APs, they can self-study.
    Obviously this is just a scam by the College Board to make more money, and colleges are bending over backward to make students give it to them. (For what it's worth, I'm not taking any.)
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  • irishheroirishhero 5 replies3 threads New Member
    Hi there, I skimmed some of the posts here, and now I am wondering if I did the wrong thing by not submitting my Subject Test scores. I applied to a handful of schools, one of which is a top 20, but not an ivy (my top choice). I got a 790 on the Math II test and a 710 on Chemistry. I didn't submit these due to the fact my grades and test scores are so strong (36 ACT, 4.2 GPA). I figured that perhaps those scores may diminish my perfect ACT score. Did I do the wrong thing?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9149 replies91 threads Senior Member
    @irishhero If you have still have applications pending, I would submit those subject test scores.
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  • SouthernHopeSouthernHope 2099 replies214 threads Senior Member
    This is an example of one but my kid has no hooks whatsoever (including income) and took no subject tests and made it onto the extended waiting list (25 kids who are still being considered in June) at Georgetown. So i think if they see something that they like about a kid, they really don't care that much....but if they're waffling, subject tests might help.
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  • OrangeBlossomMomOrangeBlossomMom 142 replies2 threads Junior Member
    A rep from an Ivy League school (pretty sure it was Columbia) was speaking at my kids' school last spring (it's a private prep school in NYC--sends a boatload of kids to Ivies every year) and she specifically said they no longer care about subject tests. She said that the scores basically tell her nothing--either they just confirm what they already know from grades/scores/curriculum (ie, clearly they're good at math) OR they "confuse" the narrative (ie, why did they score 35 on the math section on ACT, have an A in BC Calc, but then got a 650 on the Math II test?!). Also, I got the vibe that the admissions reps have now caught on to the fact that the kids at these schools are basically tutored/prepped to the tests so aggressively that they are now meaningless from this population.
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  • camiruthcamiruth 39 replies5 threads Junior Member
    I'm extremely worried after reading this...

    I am applying to/already sent in my application to many top tier schools, but I didn't take subject test scores. I had to pay the fees for my own testing so I didn't have the money to spend. I know Northwestern stressed that it truly was optional and they had no preference unless you were homeschooled.
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  • OrangeBlossomMomOrangeBlossomMom 142 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @camiruth, if it makes you feel any better, my daughter didn't take subject tests, either (and attends a private prep school). She applied to Northwestern ED and the rest of her list is pretty much all "top tier" schools, and her college counselor didn't think they were necessary. The only exception would have been if she'd been applying to engineering programs (which she isn't) or schools that truly "strongly recommend" them (like Georgetown). Considering the school's track record with admissions, I genuinely trust the college counselor's call on this! So I wouldn't worry too much.
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  • kanagawakanagawa 106 replies12 threads Junior Member
    thank you!
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  • camiruthcamiruth 39 replies5 threads Junior Member
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81056 replies728 threads Senior Member
    KCHWriter wrote:
    A rep from an Ivy League school (pretty sure it was Columbia) was speaking at my kids' school last spring (it's a private prep school in NYC--sends a boatload of kids to Ivies every year) and she specifically said they no longer care about subject tests.

    Perhaps that is specific to your kid's private prep school that is well known and/or has privileged connections to the colleges in question.

    Applicants from less well known high schools without privileged connections may be seen by the colleges as being more in need for SAT subject scores to "confirm" the strength of the high school courses.
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  • anon145anon145 612 replies7 threads Member
    edited November 2018
    bad idea to consider recruited athlete with regular students. At Ivies a recruited athlete needs to get ~30 on the ACT and does not need to take subject tests. Recruited athlete for Carnegie Mellon was told by coach that "recommended" SAT2 subject tests really means required for kids from decent schools or upper middle class.

    Remember the Ivies and most top 25 schools operate on wanting the most applications as possible (Elite schools WANT to reject lots of people) and legally trying to have some legal cover. Ask why your kid gets spam emails from schools they've never visited or expressed interest in to apply there. Ask why when one school drops a requirement the rest of the elite follow? Purely to keep applicant numbers up. Most schools are dropping writing components due to this.

    The better lawsuit against harvard is not discriminating against Asians, it's why Ivy schools that give no athletic scholarships take athletes with 30 ACTs (or lower for football/harvard BBall) and no subject tests.
    edited November 2018
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  • lostaccountlostaccount 5331 replies90 threads Senior Member
    Haven't read all posts but noticed much discussion about test optional being intended for those who can't afford the tests. Actually, the impetus for test optional was the opposite-to attract wealthy full pay students. Many private schools were having difficulty filling their slots with enough students who could pay. They were turning students down who they knew would be able to handle the academics but had bad scores that would tank their score averages for the various school rankings. And if they admitted them and their test averages declined they'd fall in the rankings. By becoming test optional, they hope to attract more full pay students who hadn't done well on the tests but whose grades were good enough to suggest they could handle the school's academics. The result would then be an increase in the schools test averages because students like those that were accepted but on the lower part of the distribution, thereby pulling the school's scores down a bit, would not send scores in the future.
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  • anon145anon145 612 replies7 threads Member
    edited November 2018
    kid recruited athlete (decided not to go to carnegie mellon). Even though D3 there and athletes there are very close to "normal" student, they have the admissions office working very closely with them. for those in the UAA conference (Wash U. , Carnegie mellon, U. of chicago you know what I'm talking about). The coach said admissions office told him that recommended not required was strictly for poor/disadvantaged back ground kids and that our kid had to take them (despite 99%tile ACT) and offered spot with full sport after getting SAT subject tests done.

    Subject tests recommended but not required means different things for different applicants. Harvard can't legally defend letting athletes skip subject tests, but mandating everyone else takes them.

    Also , SAT2 subject tests are basically not reported anywhere by school nor are they used in USNWR rankings so the theory they are to accept rich kids with poor SAT2 scores makes no sense.
    edited November 2018
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