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SSAT scores go against my narrative

iusedtobesmartiusedtobesmart 87 replies11 threads Junior Member
edited February 19 in Prep School Admissions
So I just took the Feb. 8th SSAT, and got 800/99% on verbal and reading and 794/96%(grade)/97%(grade/gender) on quantitative, 99% overall.

Now, obviously I'm elated, it's a great score.

However, I presented myself as a "math kid" throughout the application process (I wrote one of my essays about overcoming sexist teachers and taking high level math, focused on my interest in math programs during interviews, etc. )

Will it hurt me that my math score is the weakest part of my score? Especially because I'm taking DE calc 2, so I should be able to handle basic geometry and algebra 2.

I kind of wish I got 800 on math only and like 750s on verbal and reading so that I'd look "pointier" in math.

What do you think? Will it make the AOs question my math ability?
edited February 19
24 replies
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Replies to: SSAT scores go against my narrative

  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 394 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 19
    No, you will be fine. I am assuming you are a girl, from the grade split. Those are excellent scores, and no need to worry. Anecdotally, many strong math kids seem to do very well on verbal. I conjecture that the same instinct for systematizing information helps strong math kids to absorb grammar rules and to note subtle differences between primary and secondary word definitions without even realizing it.

    However, I will caution you about your math progression if you are still in 8th grade and are taking calculus. Few high schools can provide you with meaningful courses a year or so beyond AP Calc, not even some of the most prestigious boarding schools. Once you are accepted, have a frank conversation with the school on how they can accommodate you, and do not just accept assurances that they will find a way. Of course, if you are willing to go back and do algebra and geometry all over again, this will not matter, but it will be a long, boring slog if you take that path.

    We have been exactly in your place with an advanced math kid, so feel free to ask any questions you like.

    Good luck!
    edited February 19
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  • iusedtobesmartiusedtobesmart 87 replies11 threads Junior Member
    @OneMoreToGo2021 I'm a total grammar nerd and LOVE reading and writing (taking ap lang), but according to my transcript I'm stronger in math (idk why but it seems that it's easier to advance in math classes than english classes) so I decided to play that angle.

    The only BSs I'm applying to offer multivariable, linear algebra, diff. equations, many courses in probability, game theory, proof writing classes, etc. I'd finish all of these by the end of 10th/ end of 11th grade, but I know that the professors are willing to arrange independent study math classes for the most advanced kids. Also I really like science (taking ap chem) because it combines math and writing, so I'm sure I'll have plenty to do there:)
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 896 replies17 threads Member
    Lol. Your score is fine!

    Both my kids are “math kids.” Both scored higher on the verbal portion of the ssat. Being a math kid means math is what you love, not that you score perfectly on math standardized tests.
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  • enpassant2019enpassant2019 61 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 19
    If the admission ever wonders about you academically, it won't be about why you missed a few questions on math SSAT but about why you never attempted AMC or AIME (if that is true). SSAT is not considered to be a true measure of math talents; it tests if you can follow the curriculum. AMC and AIME are brain teasers - something those genuinely passionate about math would be attracted to.

    If your perceived weakness is in EC, you would raise your chance by making academic not just academic but EC as well (ie a hook) but to do so you would have to get out of the ordinary domain such as grades and tests and go into research, publishing and contests. It would be interesting to see what PEA and PA would do with your case - ie someone who achieved the top of conventional means.

    BTW, as you may well know, what determines the difficulty of a course is not the subject matter covered but the depth. A course in linear algebra can be taught in such a way to frustrate graduate students in math. PEA uses "problem-based learning" approach for its most advanced students, and I heard it challenges even the most advanced students. So highly unlikely you will run out of something to learn, I would assume.
    edited February 19
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  • iusedtobesmartiusedtobesmart 87 replies11 threads Junior Member
    edited February 19
    @enpassant2019 I was online schooled, and actually didn't even know that the tests existed until a few months ago:( In FL, if you don't go to a private school then there's no chance of math competitions.

    I'm competing this year, but I was out of town for the first test so we'll see how it goes. I'm going to go to a math summer camp (haven't decided which one yet), where hopefully I'll do research.
    edited February 19
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  • enpassant2019enpassant2019 61 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 19
    I see - that explains. In that case, I think it would not do harm to let the schools know somehow, although it might be tad bit late now (best if your reference provider explained this rather than yourself). You don't want to appear like a boxer who is afraid to step into the ring for the sake of preserving perfect record. Also, they may assume you entered those and did not do well enough to submit. I think you would actually love those contests and do well on them. For the SSAT math, absolutely nothing to worry about - a 97 and a 99 are the same.
    edited February 19
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  • enpassant2019enpassant2019 61 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 20
    one1ofeach wrote: »
    You don’t need to take the amc or the aime, nor do you need to explain to bs that you didn’t take them because you didn’t know about them. This is exactly the rat race mentality of “ever more” that’s ruining education! Argh.

    Thanks for the fresh air of common sense. I agree with you 100% that this is the way it should be. I really do hope it is how things will turn out as well. (BTW, my opinion was reserved for the case of using academic as a hook, a demonstrated passion, in lieu of weak EC.)
    edited February 20
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 394 replies0 threads Member
    I'm going to go to a math summer camp (haven't decided which one yet), where hopefully I'll do research.
    If you are not yet 14, I would encourage you to look into MathPath. If you are up for a real challenge, and are at least 13, check out Canada/USA Mathcamp. Admissions are very difficult for Mathcamp, but as a girl you will get some slight preference.

    My kid has done both (multiple times for Canada/USA). I could not recommend them highly enough. For some kids, the experiences have been life changing.
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  • enpassant2019enpassant2019 61 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 20
    one1ofeach wrote: »
    There’s no way ao’s are sitting around discussing things like “maybe this kid who says they love math took the aime but did so badly she didn’t send us the score”. “Yeah, I bet that’s it. I mean she only got a 97% on her ssat math, she can’t actually be a math kid with that score.” Ridiculous!

    But how else can you explain rejections received by so many kids who seemingly achieved perfection numberwise? Every year I see many "conventionally perfect" (4.0 and 99%) kids not even getting waitlisted but outright rejected from PA and PEA. Terrible essay? Questionable moral character? Unfit?

    Every March 10, looking at the BS result on CC, I feel like shouting "What more could this kid possibly have done - within the limits of what was available to him?" Not everyone has the "means" (beside talents) to stand at Carnegie Hall or learn alpine skiing. And yet, would these schools take that into consideration? I feel it is one thing for us to think what is reasonable, and it is quite another for the AO to select among so many uber-achievers' files on their table.

    And there seems to be no shortage of kids with near-perfect AMC on CC. At least math does not cost money like Carnegie Hall - so AO won't feel guilty about using it as a criteria. I don't know if AO actually does it or not; I am just saying I won't be surprised or feel unfair about his using it, for the AO has to select certain number among so many qualified applicants. I do not know what other metric would be more potent in filling the class' potential Olympiad team requirement. Grades and SSAT are a dime in a dozen.

    If Nadia Comaneci pushes the bar up a notch for her routine, regardless of whether it is healthy or safe or not for her or the rest, she sets a new reference on what it takes to win the competition. There simply is no way to get around this, as we see from what the US college admission game has become today.
    edited February 20
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6474 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I think AOs understand that kids applying to BS need their parents to make all those things happen. Someone has to drive, pay, etc. Some families are set up to do this better than others.

    But once they are at school, it's what the kid can do there. The schools are looking for a mix of kids. Many are looking for ones who can wear more than one hat. A kid who has done well in math competition is at a minimum going to do well in math class. Hopefully they'll contribute to the math team. But how many of those does one school need? And what else do they bring? That's why they don't all get in.

    If this is your passion, own it. And @iusedtobesmart , don't sweat your "narrative ".
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  • enpassant2019enpassant2019 61 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Many are looking for ones who can wear more than one hat.

    The impression I get is that it really depends on the school. Big schools such as PA and PEA are looking for really "pointy" whereas smaller schools such as Groton, Thacher, Cate are more for those who can wear many hats. I think PEA in particular takes math extremely seriously - the kids made me wonder "Why are you still attending high school?"
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 394 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 20
    But how else can you explain rejections received by so many kids who seemingly achieved perfection numberwise?
    Remember, all private schools are at root businesses. There are many institutional needs that must be satisfied when choosing a class.

    One important need is that the more average academic kids not feel outclassed by too large a cohort of academic top achievers. There is only so much room for kids who are going to "make it look easy."

    Obviously, there are many more institutional needs that must be satisfied and which help explain why academic and even extracurricular achievement are no guarantees of admission.
    edited February 20
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 394 replies0 threads Member
    @iusedtobesmart - If math is your passion, go for it! There are not enough girls involved, that is for sure. If you can get to mid-AIME level, which in reality is not that tough, many doors will be opened for you when you apply to top colleges. I have seen this so many times I consider it an axiom now.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6474 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Even small schools are happy for some pointy kids. And while large schools can handle more kids who have only one hat, there is a huge need for "connectors". Without them, there is no real community and the benefit of having a multi-talented class is lost.

    And for those who think these kids are limited so the others don't feel bad, I have yet to see a single kid who outshone all the others in every academic class, every musical performance, every sport, etc. It takes all kinds.

    There are schools with STEM focus, but not these BS. If you want a school that selects on that basis, you'd have to find one of those.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 896 replies17 threads Member
    One important need is that the more average academic kids not feel outclassed by too large a cohort of academic top achievers. There is only so much room for kids who are going to "make it look easy."

    So your theory is that BSs reject top scoring kids so that the kids who can’t get all A’s won’t feel badly about themselves?

    I really don’t think this is anywhere close to true. Those kids get rejected because of things like this:
    Legacy with an 85% ssat
    Athlete, 2 or 3 varsity sports, 90% ssat
    Musician, 2 instruments, first gen college

    Those are the kids taking the spots from the 99% kids. And those kids often do very very well at BS. A school only has so many spots for kids for whom academics is a hook (because imo it is almost never a hook because kids often think they’re a lot smarter than they are after they score a 99%).

    There are colleges that admit just on grades and test scores aren’t there? BS don’t want their cohorts to be so narrowly chosen.
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 394 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 20
    So your theory is that BSs reject top scoring kids so that the kids who can’t get all A’s won’t feel badly about themselves?
    Not exactly. It is just that if there is too large a cohort of extremely intelligent kids, it will change the whole dynamic of the school, and lead to problems with legacy admits, donor admits, athlete admits, etc. Just imagine the difference between a place like Stuyvesant High School in NYC versus, say, Deerfield or Lawrenceville, just to pick two. Most kids at either of those boarding schools would not feel comfortable academically at Stuy, and, frankly, vice versa.

    There is no right or wrong answer here. And most boarding schools do not have the luxury of filling a class with the very brightest kids anyway (although certainly some do). It is just a choice of how to run the business, not dissimilar from the choices made by many of the most elite colleges. All I am saying is that there is a group of kids chosen primarily for outstanding intellectual ability and academic potential at any boarding school that has the luxury of shaping its class, and that group is relatively small.
    Those are the kids taking the spots from the 99% kids. And those kids often do very very well at BS.
    Well, of course. The school in large measure is geared towards kids around the 75-85 percentile (with a few school exceptions of course). Could they do as well if 50-75% of the class came in with >98% scores, with the classroom and curricular dynamics that would follow from that? I doubt it.
    edited February 20
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