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SAT & ACT optional= harder to get into Ivy League? (or any other top college)

MasterplayerMasterplayer 0 replies1 threads New Member
With sat and act scores now optional would more people now apple to top colleges that they felt that they previously would not qualify for this year? I mean I'm one of those people, but are people expecting applications to skyrocket this year? What about ED do you think those would stay the same? I'm hoping to at least get into one top college if i write a good enough essay.
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Replies to: SAT & ACT optional= harder to get into Ivy League? (or any other top college)

  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 1032 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited October 26
    No one knows for certain what will happen until after the schools release their application numbers. The general advice is to submit your SAT or ACT score if it's within the 25th-75th percentile range.

    Getting into at least one T20 is never a guarantee, especially this year with deferrals at the top-most schools---make sure to apply widely (safeties, matches, and reaches,) and hope for the best! :smile:

    ED's usually a boost compared to RD, but it's only a boost if you match WHAT the T20 is looking for (strong academics and extracurricular activities, a interest in the Open Curriculum, Core Curriculum, specific opportunities etc.
    edited October 26
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6244 replies97 threads Senior Member
    edited October 26
    No one knows for certain what will happen until after the schools release their application numbers. The general advice is to submit your SAT or ACT score if it's within the 25th-75th percentile range.

    This is not the 'general' advice. Many schools have said to submit only if the score is at the median of last year's admitted students (use enrolled stats if admitted stats are not available). Hence, many counselors are giving the same advice.

    It's not always clear cut, and there are exceptions, but often, a score in the 25%-50%ile does not strengthen an application, and in fact, may weaken it. Even if neutral, could make sense not to send it.

    I agree that we just don't know what is going to happen this year, with application volume by round, or test score submissions.
    edited October 26
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 3214 replies53 threads Senior Member
    The general advice is to submit your SAT or ACT score if it's within the 25th-75th percentile range.

    I haven’t seen anyone advise that submitting 25th percentile scores is a good idea.

    I agree with the above - at or above the median of the two, unless there are some very specific circumstances.
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  • EyeVeeeEyeVeee 794 replies7 threads Member
    There are schools that have been "test optional" for years, and they can assess academic compatibility for their programs without the test scores. What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).

    If you think your scores alone are going to keep you out of highly selective schools, it's most likely not the case, just like being "in the band" for scores guarantees nothing.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6244 replies97 threads Senior Member
    EyeVeee wrote: »
    There are schools that have been "test optional" for years, and they can assess academic compatibility for their programs without the test scores. What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).

    Do you have a source for this statement? For example, I do not think that is true for Bowdoin, but I am not sure....so data would be helpful. TIA
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1828 replies9 threads Senior Member
    ^Yes, I thought one of the speculative reasons why schools went TO was it would allow them to accept more students who might not otherwise apply because of lower test scores without hurting the perception of their selectivity by having a lower reported test score range. In fact that there would likely be a bump because only high scoring applicants would submit scores. Certainly if most applicants follow the strategy of only submitting scores that are at the historical median or above, it will raise the median score at least for this admissions cycle.

    I do think TO brings into play students that historically may not have applied bc of low test scores who have high GPA's.

    But for the OP, all of this is pure conjecture of something that is out of anyone's control. Just put in your best effort and make sure you cover your match and safety bases.
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 1032 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited October 27
    @Mwfan1921 @RichInPitt If you're a STEM/Business/Engineering applicant, yes, you should have a test score closer to the 75th percentile than not, If you're not a STEM applicant, then there's nothing wrong with submitting a 25th-50th percentile score, as long as the lower scores are in STEM. Most T20s have a 25th-75th percentile range of 32-35, and a 33 is definitely a good score.
    edited October 27
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  • EyeVeeeEyeVeee 794 replies7 threads Member
    edited October 27
    Mwfan1921 wrote: »
    EyeVeee wrote: »
    There are schools that have been "test optional" for years, and they can assess academic compatibility for their programs without the test scores. What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).

    Do you have a source for this statement? For example, I do not think that is true for Bowdoin, but I am not sure....so data would be helpful. TIA

    So I've heard it at a few places, most notably Bowdoin. I've taken the Bowdoin tour 5 times (mulitple kids), done one overnight visit...but never so much as completed an application.

    My question...why would you doubt they can determine from your academic record, interviews, recommendations, etc. your ability and generally estimate what the test scores might have been? What do you think they get from 6 hours of testing that they can't assess from four years of grades? Do you think only the kids with scores below the median submit them? When you're rejecting 9 out of 10 kids, I would think you get a pretty good feel for the type of students who thrive in your community.

    EDIT - FWIW I found this blog that says it makes a difference...especially at Bowdoin. It's a bit dated, and I would suggest that the use of mean artificially supports the confirmation bias he was looking for...but his findings are that non-test students don't perform as well. I'd also be interested to know how many of the non-submitters are athletes...but whatever. Enjoy....

    https://blog.criteriacorp.com/dont-ask-dont-tell-the-new-rules-of-the-sat-and-college-admissions/
    edited October 27
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6244 replies97 threads Senior Member
    edited October 27
    EyeVeee wrote: »
    Mwfan1921 wrote: »
    EyeVeee wrote: »
    There are schools that have been "test optional" for years, and they can assess academic compatibility for their programs without the test scores. What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).

    Do you have a source for this statement? For example, I do not think that is true for Bowdoin, but I am not sure....so data would be helpful. TIA

    So I've heard it at a few places, most notably Bowdoin. I've taken the Bowdoin tour 5 times (mulitple kids), done one overnight visit...but never so much as completed an application.

    My question...why would you doubt they can determine from your academic record, interviews, recommendations, etc. your ability and generally estimate what the test scores might have been? What do you think they get from 6 hours of testing that they can't assess from four years of grades? Do you think only the kids with scores below the median submit them? When you're rejecting 9 out of 10 kids, I would think you get a pretty good feel for the type of students who thrive in your community.

    I 100% believe that historically TO schools can figure out who will thrive in their community without test scores, I never said otherwise.

    Specifically I was asking about a source for your statement re: test scores....with regard to Bowdoin, admitted test scores (which don't include the TO group, usually 25%-33% of the total) are usually much higher than matriculated scores (includes test scores for *all* enrolled students)....this suggests that the TO group may have had lower than median scores.
    edited October 27
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6244 replies97 threads Senior Member
    edited October 27
    @Mwfan1921 @RichInPitt If you're a STEM/Business/Engineering applicant, yes, you should have a test score closer to the 75th percentile than not, If you're not a STEM applicant, then there's nothing wrong with submitting a 25th-50th percentile score, as long as the lower scores are in STEM.


    This is just not accurate....it is a gross over generalization. Where are you, a college freshman, getting your information? Looking for a source for your statement.

    ETA: What I am reacting to is that it is *not* the 'general' advice to send test scores in the 25%-50% range.
    edited October 27
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  • randomPeoplerandomPeople 36 replies4 threads Junior Member
    EyeVeee wrote: »
    There are schools that have been "test optional" for years, and they can assess academic compatibility for their programs without the test scores. What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).

    If you think your scores alone are going to keep you out of highly selective schools, it's most likely not the case, just like being "in the band" for scores guarantees nothing.

    So why those kids with at or above the median scores decided not to submit their scores? This doesn't make sense.

    I would think there might be some researches indicating that the kids who admitted without test scores are equally successful in college comparing to those who didn't submit scores.
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  • merc81merc81 12312 replies211 threads Senior Member
    edited October 27
    EyeVeee wrote:
    What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).

    When Bowdoin, as an example, began requiring and reporting scores for all matriculants, rather than just for students who had submitted scores with their applications, its visible profile decreased dramatically. By actual numbers, in the last year (students entering in the fall of 2015) for which Bowdoin reported scores for only part its student body on its CDS, it registered a middle-range combined-score (CR+M) SAT profile of 1375–1535. In the subsequent year, after Bowdoin began reporting data for all students after enrollment, its middle-range profile resurfaced as 1290–1510.
    edited October 27
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  • 2Devils2Devils 110 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited October 28
    Agree with @PikachuRocks15 ....per more than one counselor in our school, in multiple different situations (though not a blanket statement for all), kids are being told: a score in the middle-50% is fine to submit, which is the 25-75th%ile. These are fairly experienced folks including past admissions office experience.
    edited October 28
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  • Data10Data10 3491 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited October 28
    EyeVeee wrote: »
    What they find, is that the kids they admit without test scores are always at or above the median when they find out (post admission).
    Mwfan1921 wrote: »
    Do you have a source for this statement? For example, I do not think that is true for Bowdoin, but I am not sure....so data would be helpful. TIA

    Pre-COVID19, students who applied and were admitted test optional to highly selective colleges generally had lower test scores than the overall average for that school. This makes sense as the primary reason why students did not submit test scores is that their scores were lower. However, there was also a small minority of students who did not submit scores in spite of score well above typical for the college. For example, Bates has a review comparing test submitters to non-submitters over a 25-year period at https://www.bates.edu/admission/files/2014/01/25th-Year-SAT-report-Stanford-6.3.11-wch.ppt . The slides mention that submitters averaged 80 points higher on math and 85 points higher on verbal. The slides also mention that both submitters and non-submitters averaged nearly identical college GPAs and graduations rates, in spite of the score differences. Several other test optional colleges have published reports showing something similar.

    However, COVID-19 makes different. There are other key reasons why students may not submit besides just having a lower score such as COVID-19 making it awkward to take the SAT/ACT, students not seeing the point of taking the SAT/ACT when all the colleges that they are applying to are test optional, etc. A good portion of students with higher scores may not submit, as well as students with lower scores. As such, colleges will not necessarily assume that no score means low score. I believe some colleges really will not significantly penalize students for not submitting, as they claim. A few highly selective colleges have even gone test blind (not optional), such as Caltech, giving more certainty that not submitting will have little negative influence . Some test optional colleges will also apply notable changes in how scores influence admission decisions. It's unclear exactly how scores will be used in admission decisions, but it is clear that it will be different from previous years.
    edited October 28
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 3018 replies16 threads Senior Member
    edited October 29
    If a school rejects certain applicants around or above the 75th percentile, which top schools do, it seems logical that those students getting in at the 25th percentile have something sparkling in their applications - possibly hooks (not all hooked applicants are below the 25th), or something else that sets their application apart from many others. In this instance, the same applicant would probably get in TO anyway. As an applicant to an ivy, you’re wanting to present something in your application that sets you apart from the other 90-95% of applicants. A 25th percentile score is not going to be that.

    It also seems to me from anecdotal evidence =posts here on CC, that some not insignificant number of applicants are applying TO to the ivies this year as they think they’ll have a chance they otherwise wouldn’t. I’m very curious to see what the final numbers are, and if (as I expect) it would lead to a noticeable rise on applications and consequent dip in admit rates.
    edited October 29
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