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The Importance of Writing Skills?

SBDadSBDad 787 replies60 threads Member
edited June 2006 in Parents Forum
My son is considering highly selective schools, including Stanford and Cornell, and is concerned about his test scores as they relate to writing skill, (even though he plans a science major):

Stats are as follows (one sitting):
SAT 2300 CR 730, Math 800, WR 770 (9 essay)
ACT 35 Math 34, Sci 35, Eng 36, Reading 36 (Writing Score not yet known)
AP Eng Lit & Comp 4 (only AP offered - he took a year early)
GPA 3.95 (His only B+ was in AP Eng Lit & Comp, all other A & A-) unweighted
Class Rank 3 of 88 (small rural school)
Good EC's and leadership

Having just gotten the AP score, he's freaking out about his perceived weakness in the writing area - 9 on SAT Essay, only B+ in AP Lit, 4 on AP exam.

Is that legitimate, or just hysterics? He says that he just hates timed essays. Does this make his college essays all the more important at these highly selective schools? (Don't worry, he has safeties.)

Any words of wisdom or other help would be greatly appreciated.
edited June 2006
12 replies
Post edited by SBDad on
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Replies to: The Importance of Writing Skills?

  • minimini 26167 replies259 threads Senior Member
    So he is consistent across the board. His perceived "weakness" is an actual "weakness", relative to his absolutely stellar status with everything else. Why should he be hysterical about something that seems to be a consistent reflection of who he is?

    I'd take him out and buy him a milkshake.
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  • mathmommathmom 33177 replies161 threads Senior Member
    I think it's just hysterics. Ignore the essay - he got a 99%ile on the writing part of the SAT. He got a 4 on the AP. The kids can definitely write well enough for a science major. I think he's got as good a shot as anyone at the highly selective schools.
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  • maritemarite 21343 replies243 threads Senior Member
    Definitely hysterics. S got into Stanford with similar SAT scores. Tell him to relax and buy him a milkshake; or a slurpee; or a chai.. whatever lowers the blood pressure.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 13973 replies170 threads Senior Member
    ... and after the milkshake, chai, whatever, hug him. And tell him he's terrific.
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    I may be wrong, but I think that nothing is less important than the writing scores, simply because adcomms can (and will) judge the quality of a kid's writing for themselves by reading the essays. A great score and mediocre essays = a mediocre writer; a good score and great essays = a great writer.

    So, really, milkshake, chai, hug . . . yeah. And if he wants to obsess about his writing, tell him to work on his writing, not worry about his test score.
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  • SBDadSBDad 787 replies60 threads Member
    OK, thanks all. I gave him a hug, told him how proud I was of him and we're heading off to the Dairy Lodge. He's a malt guy.
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  • calmomcalmom 20875 replies168 threads Senior Member
    I think your son's writing scores and grades are terrific, but I think he needs to work on his relaxation skills. ;)
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  • MombotMombot 914 replies26 threads Member
    Those writing tests are bogus--the test of a good writer is the ability to organize and EDIT..none of which those tests give you time to do.
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  • katonahmomkatonahmom . 128 replies45 threads Junior Member
    I hope he made that a double malt and really enjoyed it - his scores are truly terrific. While it is easier said than done, don't let him stress out about the application process. After all, college isn't just about the scores and grades but how to learn and grow and, just as importantly, how to have fun while doing just that. From what I have heard, this is especially true if he is interested in a place like Stanford. So, I agree with Marite and Calmom -tell him to relax and to trust himself enough to have some fun while he is at it!
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  • thumper1thumper1 78247 replies3524 threads Senior Member
    Honestly, this is the only place where someone would perceive that a 4 on an AP test, and a 770 on the Writing section of the SAT were "weaknesses". Both are excellent scores. Now...having said that, your son should craft a well rounded selection of colleges to apply to...not just highly selective ones. Both Cornell and Stanford accept less than 20% of the students who apply. That means that they do NOT accept about 80%, and in that 80% there are some well qualified students. These schools simply cannot accept all of the "top" students who apply for admission. So...your son should not view his scores as a weakness...they are not!! But he should carefully plan his applications. There are some very very wonderful schools out there that would be more than delighted to have this child amongst their ranks....and they are not in the top 25 schools.
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  • nngmmnngmm 5613 replies95 threads Senior Member
    His scores are good enough for any school (they will not prevent him from being accepted).
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  • cangelcangel 4054 replies73 threads Senior Member
    A) Time to chillax - I recommend ice cream, in whatever your favorite form might be.

    B) He may never take another timed essay quite like the SAT/ACT and AP Lit tests, and perception of having a problem with them is not unrealistic - I have heard of other good writers who didn't perform as expected on those particular tests, their writing process just doesn't function that way. The good news is that his college app essays are NOT timed! A 36 or ACT reading and English is telling, those tests are bears, esp. the English, he does know his stuff.

    C) If he made a 5 on an AP History test, I would return to #1. If he truly is concerned about his writing, he should have the AP lit teacher read his college essay, and carefully consider any criticisms. A science major will soon be done with essays on great literature, but if he has difficulties with wordiness, or organizing his thoughts, or refining his arguments, then it can only help him to recognize those weaknesses, and work on them.

    I don't think any of this makes a bit of difference on whether he gets accepted to Stanford or not, his scores are fine - but it may make him feel better to think he is "doing" something.
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