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How much do test scores matter, if at all?

ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 517 Member
My son is a HS junior and hoping to pursue jazz studies (saxophone) in college. His grades are good, 3.75 GPA. But he just got his ACT scores back and they're pretty mediocre. He'll take them again and while they may go up some, I'm not expecting him to be one of those with scores in the 30's. His jazz playing credentials are good, with lots of combo experience. So, for schools like University of Michigan, Northwestern, etc. that have high test score expectations for their incoming freshmen, how much will his low score affect his acceptance? Is there some leeway given for music school applicants?
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Replies to: How much do test scores matter, if at all?

  • ScubachickScubachick 319 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 323 Member
    It really depends on the school. For many university music departments, you have to be admitted to both the University and the music department. Meaning you would need to meet the minimum requirements for the University. Most music department websites will tell you the minimum academic requirements. If your S is musically gifted and meets the minimum ACT then he should be fine. Remember, schools brag about the average ACT of the entering class, but since it's an average, that means they accepted students with lower scores. The students accepted with lower scores typically offer something the school wants - athletics, music, etc...
    For many conservatories the test scores don't make much difference.
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  • cellomom6cellomom6 544 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 573 Member
    My son did get a rejection with a good act and ok GPA of 3.4.
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  • MomOf2TeenGirlsMomOf2TeenGirls 316 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 319 Member
    edited April 2015
    My D is at Michigan. They do look at grades and test scores, however the average ACT for SMTD (school of music, theater and dance) is typically lower than the overall average. Per their websites, the 50% range for 2014 admitted students was 30-33 overall, and the average was 28 in SMTD. The SMTD website has more details on the admission process; it gives a guideline of 24 for the minimum ACT.
    edited April 2015
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  • compmomcompmom 10579 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,655 Senior Member
    For future reference, this is a list of test-optional or test-flexible schools. Many of them are top, selective colleges, and the list is surprisingly long. I haven't looked through it with a jazz program in mind, and your son may end up with scores he wants to use, but still, it is good to know that some really excellent schools "de-emphasize" scores.
    http://fairtest.org/university/optional
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  • cellomom6cellomom6 544 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 573 Member
    Also, you'd be surprised how much it can go up every time you retake it. My son's score went up 3 points the second time and that's the one we used
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 517 Member
    Thanks for the feedback. They're in line with my impressions, so glad to have the confirmation. He does make the minimum ACT requirement for SMTD at Michigan. There are so many local kids with 4.0's and ACT scores well in the 30's who are wait-listed at Michigan; even though they're not music students, the stories are still intimidating. Northwestern sounds even worse.
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  • musicprntmusicprnt 6216 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    Schools of music within universities do make allowances for music students they won't for academic students, because music among other things can preclude taking the X AP's and so forth that academic admissions seems to eat up, same with ACT/SAT and GPA. How much varies, and for example, a kid who is a borderline admit in terms of academics (for the music school) who also is a borderline on getting admitted to the music school, might get rejected, whereas a student who is borderline musically but stronger academically might get in, it all depends. I don't know of a university that has a music school where they don't make such allowances for the music admits, the amount may vary, but from what I can tell it holds true in most if not all such schools.
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  • DesignDadDesignDad 181 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 191 Junior Member
    Also keep in mind that each university is different in how much of a say the music school has. For example, all reports I've heard (both from administrators at these schools as well as parents) are that Shepherd and Jacobs have a fair amount of say with their respective universities as to who gets accepted, while from what I've heard at Michigan and Northwestern if the U says "no" there's not much the music school can say about it.

    And just to add what @momof2girls said about Michigan wanting a 24 ACT for music, that is what I was told directly by an admin person there. Rice and Northwestern told us 26.
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  • musicprntmusicprnt 6216 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    It all does depend on the university......I have heard that at places like Michigan and Northwestern that the music school has some say if the university admissions was borderline, but as DD said, if the university says no to admission, the music school won't be able to do much. That said, most universities give wiggle room to musicians with their standards, it is very different getting into U Mich, Northwestern or USC as a music performance major then doing so as an academic student, that I am sure of.
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  • bazaarshopperbazaarshopper 106 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 107 Junior Member
    I can echo what the others have stated - yes, there is artistic leeway at Michigan. True, admission standards are quite high for the school in general, by the usual measures. But the - the artists are judged on their artistic ability. Just meet the minimums for SMTD, and most importantly, give a killer audition. That's what worked for my son.
    He's already graduated (BFA Acting program).
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