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Perfect SAT scores, low GPA, chances?

blableblable Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited September 2010 in College Search & Selection
What would the best colleges be to apply to if I had taken 8 SAT subject tests (and scored 800 on all of them), gotten a 2400 on the SAT, but a 3.4 career GPA?

And should I even try to apply to top schools, or did I ruin my chances with a low GPA? (I have a rigorous course load and i'm taking the hardest classes I can this year) first 2 years were kinda low, junior year was highest.

Also, would it help at all submitting a portfolio that demonstrates a passion/talent in something? I never really got into volunteering or clubs since I felt like I was just doing it for the apps but I genuinely enjoyed doing sports and other stuff all throughout high school.

I was completely honest and myself in my essays, and I'm pretty sure they would stand out since the topic was so out there...maybe a little too out there lol, i'm afraid admissions might see me as too weird or open but I didn't want to sound fake so...yeah.

Basically I need to apply to colleges that weigh SAT scores most heavily since that's the strong point in my app and it would help if they looked at creative/liberal people favorably as well. I'm REALLY beating myself on the head for not trying harder freshman/sophomore year right now...
Post edited by blable on

Replies to: Perfect SAT scores, low GPA, chances?

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 34,380 Super Moderator
    If you're talking about Ivies when you say Top Schools then you will be penalized for your grades. You might fit in the bottom Ivies. Large Us tend to weight SATs more than or equal to grades.
  • dd1993dd1993 Registered User Posts: 336 Member
    Why would you take 8 subject tests?
  • Jared53Jared53 Registered User Posts: 216 Junior Member
    Congradulations if you got perfect SAT scores. A 3.4 GPA isn't terribly aweful, but it will be a deterrent to the big schools. They will definately consider you because you have clearly demonstrated determination towards academics. Perfect scores are hard to come by and will be an advantage over every similar GPA that the school see's.
  • theRADtomato47theRADtomato47 Registered User Posts: 1,289 Senior Member
    ^I'm pretty sure this guy has a 3.4 gpa but is hoping to get a 2400 and all of that stuff. If the OP's stats are legit, then WOW! And 8 subject tests? Really? Most colleges will only look at your best 2 or 3 subject tests.
  • smartbearsmartbear Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    I couldn't imagine how a person with 2400 cAn't excel in school
  • blableblable Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    To clear things up, I've taken 6 subject tests so far (bio m, math ii, literature, world history, chemistry, physics) and scored 800 on all of them. I plan to take 2 more next month. I'm also retaking the SAT since i got a 2200 and it would be nice if i get a 2400...

    I LOVE taking tests and it's sort of a stress-reliever. I'll take practice tests and make up quizzes based purely on what I've gotten wrong until i ace it and so on and so forth. I used to study in class though, since I hate taking notes but I've matured somewhat. IMO it's all just a system (except the evil SAT essay portion)

    theRADtomato47- are you sure that colleges won't look at all the tests? Even if I had collegeboard send all of my scores to all schools i apply to?
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,596 Senior Member
    The problem is this....

    Elite schools look at RANK because they want kids who do well in the classroom, not just when they feel like it (such as when taking standardized tests).

    To an elite school, your GPA suggests that you haven't been consistent doing homework or studying.

    Go ahead and try and apply to some elite schools, but be prepared to be rejected. You are competing against other kids who have high scores (even if not perfect), but have been solid performers in their classrooms for the past 4 years.

    Elites aren't really looking for kids who can just get 800s on exams.

    You need to mentally prepare yourself that you probably will not get accepted because of GPA and rank. So, also prepare a good list of matches and financial safety schools.

    Is that your weighted GPA?
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    A few questions here: Is that 3.4 unweighted or weighted? Have you taken challenging classes (honors and APs or just regular classes, assuming your school offers them). How competitive is your school academically: Where does a 3.4 put you in terms of class rank? Also, is there a trend in your grades? Is it 3.4 because you had a slow start in 9th grade but are now pulling mostly As? That matters a lot, especially if you are a guy. Finally, even if there is no trend, is there a pattern like As in all the math and sciences but Cs in English?

    There are schools out there (like Reed for example) that value the 'angular' kids-those kids who are very bright but very independent and self-directed. Often these kids will really excel in a few areas, and totally ignore other areas to the detriment of their GPAs. They get excellent letters of rec from teachers and others who know what they can do in their areas of interest.
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    And yes, if you have a portfolio of art work or writing or something else that reflects a passion, you should certainly submit it. If you have any external recognition for your work-awards, exhibits, publications, etc... make sure that gets highlighted as well.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 34,380 Super Moderator
    Reed is a good suggestion.
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 5,937 Senior Member
    I have a different take. You went to high school, challenged yourself because you wanted to, even though it cost you. You achieved, as demonstrated by your SAT II's, a very solid mastery of many different subjects. You did things that you wanted to do (sports and exams) and became the person that you wanted to be.

    You come across as a very genuine academically oriented individual. Given the number of SAT II 800's, it's hard NOT to overlook your GPA. Have you completed any AP exams?

    I think Reed, and Chicago might be good schools for you to apply. Harvey Mudd if you are math/science inclined. I think that there are more, and I don't think that there are ANY schools that you shouldn't apply to because they'd be impossible.

    You are a bit of an outlier. That means that it's very difficult to predict how your application will be received because there is very little data available using something like Naviance. I think that you should submit applications to a variety of schools including any top schools that especially appeal to you.
  • sacchisacchi Registered User Posts: 2,133 Senior Member
    Look for colleges with high percentages of National Merit finalists, as they clearly value high test scores.

    I saw a post recently where someone with low GPA/high scores was accepted to Caltech.

    There was a thread on the Parents Forum last year, for those with under 3.6 GPAs still applying to Top 20 schools, that might give you some insights. "Top 20" was considered broadly. There were admits to Caltech, U. Chicago, Notre Dame, WashU, Stanford, Tufts, Vassar, Wesleyan, Colgate.

  • DunninLADunninLA Registered User Posts: 4,271 Senior Member
    OP --

    Assuming you do score into the 2300s on your next SAT try, then:

    -the adcom will see your progression, from (I assume from the pattern you describe) 2.8 GPA freshman year, to 3.4 GPA sophomore year, to 3.8 GPA junior year. That progression tells the adcom that you came to realize that classroom performance matters. Were I an adcom, I would throw out freshman year altogether, then slightly discount sophomore year, put most of my emphasis on evaluating what you took and how you did during Junior year, and then again how you did the first semester of Sr. year. This semester will either firm up your story line of a late maturer, or kick the feet out from under it if you underperform. As an adcom I would put a huge sticky on your file that says "WAIT FOR 1ST SEMESTER GRADES -- EVALUATE THEN" The adcom will pay particular attention to your essay to see if they can connect with what motivates you and whether your current frame of mind reflects a newly developed maturity.

    You did not mention whether you have taken AP courses. If not, and they are offered, I'm afraid you've shot yourself in the foot. If you have, another story altogether. As an adcom this would prove to me you still haven't matured enough to proactively challenge yourself with the hardest classes your school offers, and just means you're still lazy.

    Look, file this under -- people mature at different times, and it all works out. I was just talking to a guy Saturday at a softball game. He didn't know what he wanted in life at age 17, took a few community college classes, and dropped out. Six years later, with a wife and child, he went back to school at a community college, then a UC, and was 4.0 at the UC. He then scored 173 on the LSAT and chose Michigan Law over Columbia Law and UCLA Law based on the lifestyle for his then family of five in Ann Arbor and some very generous financial aid

    He is now quite successful both professionally and in parenting.
  • blableblable Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    GPA: my school only does "career" GPA which is basically weighted GPA

    Classes: were standard college prep classes during fresh/soph years. Junior year had 3 honors and 1 AP, and senior year is all honors and 3 APs. (i skipped some classes by self-study and i doubled-up in science this year)

    School: very competitive and ranked 1 in-state. The academics are rigorous which i suppose is why they only have weighted GPA (very few have over 4.0 weighted)

    Class rank: they don't calculate that, but i'm guessing top 30%?

    Grades: unfortunately, freshman year was decent, sophomore year was BAD, and junior year was GREAT. I'm aiming for above a 4.0 this year to raise my GPA

    Trend in class grades: my toughest classes i also get the highest scores in which is english, history, art and science. 2 of the APs are science classes

    Teacher recs: a couple of my teachers know me well and would write pretty awesome recommendations, but they would mark me down for lack of participation (honestly, most of the questions were dumb, so I considered them rhetorical lol)

    AP exams: decided not to take it last year, but i'll be taking all of them this year

    I'm interested in a science-related major so I would love to go to a strong science/engineering school, UCB in particular. However, they only look at sophomore and junior year UNWEIGHTED GPA...i'm afraid I screwed up in that regard

    Also, if the immaturity thing was replaced with excruciating circumstances, would you as an admissions officer look at the applicant as scapegoating their bad grades on something else instead of admitting responsibility? Would it make that much of a difference on this application?

    And I feel like people are assuming i'm a guy...
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