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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!

  • CariñoCariño Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    Our college counselor says, "Nothing is optional. If it is there to be done, do it."
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 43,810 Super Moderator
    If you were able to actually look at non-natives who just studied the language at a US high school, I would wager that the percentage of 800 scores is among the lowest of all Subject Tests.
    If you excluded Chinese and Korean, the percentiles for an 800 for non-heritage speakers is in the mid -to high 90's, so roughly on par with all other subjects except M2, chem, and physics. An 800 for non-heritage speakers in Chinese and Korean is in the high 80's, but Korean is statistically meaningless to use for comparison due to the low number of non-heritage test takers (70) and Chinese is not much better with 700 non-heritage test takers.

    That said, I'm of the opinion that while AOs are aware of the percentiles directionally, they are not cross-referencing percentile charts.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,515 Senior Member
    Look, if you want a college that values critical thinking, you can't sleepwalk through any of this. You do need to discern what is absolute and what's "adcom speak."

    Very few kids need strength in their family language for their proposed majors. And if you're a heritage speaker, they can wonder why you chose to submit that S2 test, especially if you haven't also shown scores in the usual humanities and math/sci. (The exception being schools that ask for specific tests.) It can look like you took an easy way out. You don't want adcoms stopping to wonder why? Or just how seriously you thought all this through.

    Same goes for LoRs. Make them relevant. Make your whole app relevant. You are not qualified to second guess them, so don't assume.

    Kids can easily figure their standing in theor own high schools. It's much more difficult to understand how much competition you face for a tippy top ot top college. Be wise.
  • 10s4life10s4life Forum Champion UCLA Posts: 2,118 Forum Champion
    If you’re upper middle to wealthy you’ll be expected to take them. For Ucla Engineering it’s listed as highly reccomended but it’s basically required. We just can’t list it as required due to state laws. I can’t think of any case where a freshman Engineering admit got in without it. Many of the majors have single digit admit rates and the engineering school is almost at a single digit rate
  • HopelessEsterHopelessEster Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Greeeeeaaaaaat..... As if my chances weren't already low enough... :(
  • SculptorDadSculptorDad Registered User Posts: 2,328 Senior Member
    After previewing Physics test, dd regretted not taking it right after AP Physics 1, even though it covers only half the areas and she never took a lower level physics class that covers the rest. Knowledge from AP Physics 1 could have been enough to get a decent score due to overlapping areas and high curve of the test.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 43,810 Super Moderator
    Knowledge from AP Physics 1 could have been enough to get a decent score due to overlapping areas and high curve of the test.
    While that might work for DD, it's not a strategy I'd advise for anyone else unless they're taken and scored a practice exam
  • SculptorDadSculptorDad Registered User Posts: 2,328 Senior Member
    You are right of course. She scored a practice exam to preview it. Since she isn't taking Physics 2 or Physics C Electricity and Magnetism next year, she would never be in a better position than she was 3 months ago.
  • studiousstudierstudiousstudier Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    What do we do if we haven't taken subject SATs yet? Will I really be at a disadvantage? And If I take them November, is it too late?
  • sarajayhawksarajayhawk Registered User Posts: 46 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.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 4,684 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.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 5,409 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.
  • tR5674tR5674 Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    "Our guidance counselors discourage taking the psat"


    What the heck are they thinking? Bad advice.
  • CentristCentrist Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    edited September 2018
    what of kids who are in a school that lacks any such testing culture?
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