Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

International Applying SCEA to Harvard Should I retake Subject Tests?

CC AdminCC Admin Administrator Posts: 32,428 Senior Member
This discussion was created from comments split from: Harvard University Class of 2023 SCEA Applicants.

Replies to: International Applying SCEA to Harvard Should I retake Subject Tests?

  • hs2023hs2023 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited October 7
    I'm an international student from India and am applying early to Harvard this year. I've taken the ACT and scored a 36. I took TOEFL too & scored a perfect 120. I also took the Math 2 and Physics SAT Subject Tests since many of the schools I am applying to require/recommend them. I took the subject tests on Oct 6 but they didn't go very well & I'm not anticipating perfect or anywhere near perfect scores (like 700s maybe.) I was seriously ill during the test period and wasn't able to perform at my usual level. My calculator also had a malfunction during the test but the test supervisors didn't think that the malfunction was serious enough so they convinced me to carry on.

    My ACT score is perfect & my grades throughout high school have been great. I'm consistently ranked top in my class but my school is neither an international school nor a recognized one. I'm the first applicant ever to apply to a US University from my school. The school doesn't even have a Guidance Counselor so these all factors might undermine my grades value & Harvard might be skeptical of grades.

    I have several pretty good extracurricular activities. I have been an Intel ISEF Finalist twice & a Google Science Fair Regional Finalist (Hopefully Global Finalist this year). I'm a published author in a major medical journal & a physics journal. One of my research (Medical Research) provides a possible first-ever cure for a disorder with over 100 million victims. I have also won a major international competition organized by NASA; My team developed an extremely lightweight satellite which was launched by Terrier Orion sounding rocket from Wallops Island flight facility in Virginia. I have also been a National physics olympiad winner (Top 10 among over 40000 students) & 2nd alternate for IPHO team in my junior year & I'm sure I'll make it to the team this year. I have received the highest award in India to honor young achievers and is awarded to only 25 exceptionally meritorious students from across the country every year. I have also attended a prestigious summer program in Canada which MIT recommends on its website. I have also won several other major national awards in research & academics.

    Harvard states - "International students generally benefit from submitting Subject Tests and should take them if possible as they are unlikely to be admitted on the basis of SAT or ACT alone"

    I'm really keen on applying to Harvard early. Should I take SAT Subject test again or it would be alright if I submit the application without them? My Family income is < $30000 & I'm also applying for an application fee waiver so that might qualify me for financial barrier situation in SAT Subject tests.
  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,649 Senior Member
    edited October 7
    I rarely recommend re-taking subject tests. But in your case, where 1) you believe your scores could be improved, 2) Harvard will be very unlikely with low or no scores, and 3) you have many other potential schools where you need to show yourself in the best possible light, I think you’d be wise to give them another try.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 8,362 Senior Member
    You are a strong applicant but with perfect ACT score, high grades, and clearly stellar achievements, I don't think you should break your back trying to retake. I can't imagine Harvard or any college being upset by a perfect 36 and all the rest that you bring to the table. I'm guessing you are applying soon, so you can't wait for the subject test scores to come back. If you can do it without too much hassle, retake. But I do think your merits are clear. I suspect you will get into a very selective school, with or without SAT subject tests.
  • hs2023hs2023 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    @Lindagaf what do you think of the statement regarding international students? Also, as Stanford is truly optional when it comes to SAT Subject tests, do you think I should take a chance there? I'm really inclined towards Harvard and Stanford but it seems I'm facing a problem in both the situations. Stanford is need-aware when it comes to international students and I'm gonna require full financial aid to attend college. Harvard's statement regarding sat subject tests for international students is also puzzling me. What do you think I should do?

  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 8,362 Senior Member
    Forget Stanford then. If it's need aware, and you need full aid, it's not going to happen. As I said above, take the tests again if you can without too much hassle. I say without too much hassle because you have such a small chance of acceptance in the first place that it seems a bit crazy to go to a gigantic effort to retake subject tests at this point.

    Be aware that the odds are in no one's favor, especially an international student. It's entirely possible that you may have done better than you expected on your subject tests. Sherpa gave good advice in post 2. As for Harvard's statement, well, they don't say you have no chance without subject tests. If you can get a proctor from the test, or a doctor to verify in a supplemental letter or something that you were indeed ill on test day, I guess you could do that.

    But, really, find some other colleges to apply to. You can google "need-blind colleges that provide full financial aid to international students" and you will get a list. Try applying to other schools that might be delighted to have you with your possibly less-than-perfect subject test scores. There are some very prestigious LAC's that you should consider. Amherst comes to mind.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 38,469 Super Moderator
    edited October 16
    Harvard's statement regarding sat subject tests for international students is also puzzling me.
    It seems straighforward to me - your chances for admissions without Subject Tests is close to zero.
    I'm not anticipating perfect or anywhere near perfect scores
    Perfect scores are not required, but if you think you can do better in November, then retake.Otherwise, submit the Subject Test scores you will have.
  • hs2023hs2023 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited October 16
    Well, I believe I have to wait for my SAT Subject test scores (Oct 19-20). Also, do you think I will have a chance at Stanford if I apply regular decision with great sat subject test scores or it's just very unlikely to get full financial aid from a need-aware school such as Stanford?
  • hs2023hs2023 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Amherst has an early decision, so I'm not sure whether I should commit to a college before even applying to HYPSM. https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/19839717/#Comment_19839717
    @gibby said "Unless you have a perfect test record and cannot financially afford to submit SAT Subject test scores, your application is at a disadvantage if you don't submit an SAT Subject test record" on the above thread. I have a perfect test record & I've also been granted an application fee waiver. Am I still at some sort of disadvantage given my test record, achievements & financial situation?
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 38,469 Super Moderator
    Am I still at some sort of disadvantage given my test record, achievements & financial situation?
    Ask again when you can tell us your actual scores.
    Amherst has an early decision, so I'm not sure whether I should commit to a college before even applying to HYPSM.
    Don't apply to a college unless it is one of your top choices and you can afford it. Unfortunately, as an international applicant, the NPC may don't be terribly accurate. Personally, I would not risk ED, and yes I know you can get out of it if it's unaffordable, but that's your decision.
  • hs2023hs2023 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited October 19
    @skieurope @Lindagaf My SAT Subject test scores just arrived, and they are pretty disappointing. (MATH 2 - 650, PHYSICS - 710/800). Now, Am I at a disadvantage given the test record, achievements, and financial situation? I have a perfect 36 ACT and have been granted an application fee waiver, but I'm also an international student which makes SAT Subject tests required for Harvard. I also contacted Stanford, and they told me that given my financial situation SAT Subject scores are truly optional for me, but they are need-aware for international students (I need full-ride).
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 2,741 Senior Member
    Need aware is for admittance only. If you got admitted to Stanford and your financial need dictated a full ride that is what you would get.
  • hs2023hs2023 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Yeah, I know, but that still affects my chances of being admitted.
  • independent413independent413 Registered User Posts: 19 Junior Member
    edited November 24
    Hey @hs2023 , since you're applying from India, I was wondering if you have been contacted for a Harvard alumni interview yet?
  • retro-rallyretro-rally Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    edited December 8
    @hs2023 hey bro I read your profile and got into a doubt.!! How on earth, possibly the best Indian physics mind get a 700s or so on the SAT Physics Subject tests. In subject tests you have to attempt only 61/75 questions correctly to score an 800, but you are scoring on 700s...? lol...is that a joke. SAT subject test for physics could be scored a 800 by a student of 10th class if can be in IPHO selection camp in class 11th, how could you not do that? many of the people i know who are ,so called, physics genius, don't even bother to pick up books before attempting SAT subjects... how come you got drilled so bad??

    If you are a 2nd alternate for IPHO then you could easily blow off math level 2 and physics to perfect no. of questions even on a worst day..?

    please be logical on your profile. And do not bluff people on this forum.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 29,992 Senior Member
    OP will learn the results soon.

    But as a caution to others, you can't talk about chances and then describe only stats details and stem related ECs. Any applicant needs to try to understand the range of engagements a Harvard can expect and look for.
Sign In or Register to comment.