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Duke applicant: Is ACT w/ writing good enough for duke engineering/math, or are subject tests needed

mountainnnnmountainnnn 5 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
edited July 22 in Duke University
hey all-
I am a rising senior looking to apply ED to Duke. I only took the ACT with writing and am planning to send that score. However, I want to apply either into engineering (Pratt) or mathematics. I have taken both the Biology and Math II subject tests and did not do well on them. However, I have been told that EVERYONE who applies to Pratt sends in 2 770+ STEM subject tests. I am trying to test subject tests again in August, but obviously I don't know how well that would go. Would solely sending my ACT enough to be competitive if I don't like my scores? thank you for any reply:)
edited July 22
11 replies
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Replies to: Duke applicant: Is ACT w/ writing good enough for duke engineering/math, or are subject tests needed

  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2286 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    However, I have been told that EVERYONE who applies to Pratt sends in 2 770+ STEM subject tests.

    From whom did you hear this?

    What is your ACT Composite and section scores? What math class did you have junior year, grades, and AP test score, as applicable? What math class will you have senior year?
    edited July 22
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4243 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    https://admissions.duke.edu/application/instructions
    So actually going onto the Duke website under admissions might help you out. Looks to me that for any school you do the above. My understanding is if you took Act then your done. If you took the Sat then submit 2 sections for subject tests. Not sure why they do this? If it's not clear then call them today. Most schools are pretty clear on their policies.
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  • mountainnnnmountainnnn 5 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    - On the subject tests, a college counselor told me that people applying to Pratt will likely send in two good subject tests - and when compared to an equal student, they would likely go with someone with the subject tests

    On ACT, I did:
    Composite: 34 Science: 32 Reading: 34 Math: 34 English: 36
    Junior year I took precalculus, got an A (I have a 4.0 UW), and will be taking AP calc BC senior year
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  • mountainnnnmountainnnn 5 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Yes- they do say that they only "recommend" sending with SAT, but I worry i wouldn't be as competitive applying to a STEM field with just an ACT
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4243 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    So if your theory is true then anyone sending in just an Act is at a severe disadvantage. Well.... This just is not true. Call them back and just ask that question. What tests do you prefer? Your scores are very good. If you want to take the Sat and 2 subject tests then go for it and decide later if you want to send the scores in. Having high marks in science and your math class's are more important.
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  • mountainnnnmountainnnn 5 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you!
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  • peach0v0peach0v0 89 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    From what I've seen, a lot of admitted Pratt students do have 36 Act and at least 2 near 800 STEM SAT 2 scores. You can submit your ACT, but I would recommend retaking your subject tests to remain competitive. Obviously your grades in your math and science classes will matter just as much. Also, since you won't get to calculus till your senior year, there is a high chance of you getting deferred in the ED round so the AOs can see your grades in your first semester of calculus (most Pratt applicants take calc during sophomore/junior year).

    Or, you can apply to Trinity (Arts and Sciences College) instead, which does not place as much emphasis on STEM subject test scores than Pratt does, and transfer to Pratt later. Many students transfer between the 2 colleges, some even back and forth. Good luck.
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  • mountainnnnmountainnnn 5 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    thank you!
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  • bluedogbluedog 1340 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    peach0v0 wrote: »
    From what I've seen, a lot of admitted Pratt students do have 36 Act and at least 2 near 800 STEM SAT 2 scores. You can submit your ACT, but I would recommend retaking your subject tests to remain competitive. Obviously your grades in your math and science classes will matter just as much. Also, since you won't get to calculus till your senior year, there is a high chance of you getting deferred in the ED round so the AOs can see your grades in your first semester of calculus (most Pratt applicants take calc during sophomore/junior year).

    Or, you can apply to Trinity (Arts and Sciences College) instead, which does not place as much emphasis on STEM subject test scores than Pratt does, and transfer to Pratt later. Many students transfer between the 2 colleges, some even back and forth. Good luck.

    While it may be that some Pratt applicants have near-perfect ACT scores and SAT2 scores (I actually did the same thing sending my ACT and SAT2 tests), that is certainly NOT required and the OP would be much better off having a strong ACT + Writing. It doesn't hurt to try to take the SAT2 again, but I knew plenty of people who got in with just the ACT. Your test scores and grades in STEM are competitive -- frankly, I wouldn't worry about it at all and would focus on other parts of your application.

    Finally, a large number of high schools do not even allow students to take calculus sophomore or junior years. Duke absolutely will not simply defer an ED applicant to see how they do in Calc senior year. If the applicant is competitive and shows promise and good fit for the university, he/she will be accepted. If not, they won't.

    But Duke deferring somebody from Pratt just to see how they do in Calc is not going to happen. They certainly want you to take Calc before you graduate high school, but it's not a pre-requisite or even close to have completed it by application time. In fact, the vast majority of Pratt applicants start in Mulit-variable calc when they enroll after having taken BC in high school. I even knew people who only took AB Calc (gasp!) and didn't take MV calc until second semester. I would absolutely NOT recommend applying to Trinity and then planning to transfer. Adcom can see through that and I assume your ECs align better with Pratt anyways. That will not help you and with your test scores you should be fine for Pratt.

    Good luck.

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  • peach0v0peach0v0 89 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @bluedog Thank you for your comment.

    Obviously everyone has different perspectives on the subjective admission process at extremely selective schools. If only it were black and white. What I previously noted was a trend in the stats of recently admitted Pratt students I know personally from across the US. You may have had a different experience. Even though it is true that Duke doesn't officially require SAT2s, having strong scores on a couple would definitely strengthen OP's application. I also recommend OP retaking the ACT + Writing if possible, but OP's current ACT score of 34 isn't bad, and the extra 1-2 points may or may not be worth the time.

    My own high school also does not allow students to take calc too early. It doesn't matter for Trinity, but for Pratt it may put OP at a slight disadvantage if a lot of people have been able to take calc early. The AOs would take that into consideration of course. Someone I know who applied to Pratt (did not take calc as a junior) was first deferred, and he did not send anything else except his grades, and he was accepted later after getting a 100 in his calc class. There could be other reasons for the deferral, but calc probably played a role. I did not mean that it was impossible for someone to get into Pratt with calc taken later (there are other aspects that factor in as well).

    There are many ways to craft an application, and applying to Trinity first (then Pratt) actually worked for some people who have multiple interests and were able to show that in their application. I only suggested it as an option to consider. Since I don't know OP personally I cannot say for sure if it will work or not. It is a risk. If everything OP has done in high school so far is all related to engineering, then like you said applying to Trinity would be a huge mistake. It is up to OP to decide what is ultimately the best course of action.
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  • bluedogbluedog 1340 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @peach0v0
    I agree with your latest note. :smile:
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