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Does it look bad that I only took SAT once?

computersaavycomputersaavy Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
I took the SAT in the fall of my Junior year after intensive preparation over the summer with an excellent tutor. I was happy with my score of 2160 (math - 700, reading - 720, writing - 740) because I thought it was a good reflection of my ability and my level of preparation. I was also happy that each score was above 700. I'm not sure that I could score any higher, although it would be nice to join the "above 2250" club.

I'm a straight A student with a demanding course load (4 AP course in my Junior year; 3 planned for next year as a Senior) and my SAT II scores are reasonably good - US History 780; Spanish 710; Math 1 - 740. I have strong ECs with excellent community service and activities demonstrating leadership skills (just elected President of Student Council). I think thay my teacher recs will be strong as well.

Here's my question: I'm interested in attending schools like University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, and Columbia. Does it look bad to admission officers that I only took the SAT once and didn't try to raise my score?
Post edited by computersaavy on

Replies to: Does it look bad that I only took SAT once?

  • shoreshore Registered User Posts: 571 Member
    It looks very good you only did it once. But if you want to increase your chances of UPenn or Columbia, a higher score might be required for your SATs but I'm not sure...

    But if thats the best you can do, then don't worry, doing the SAT only once is rather a bonus in my eyes. So good luck!
  • Venkat89Venkat89 Registered User Posts: 7,327 Senior Member
    No one knows really what adcoms at top schools look for when they examine an SAT score report. It is obvious that a 2400 looks good and that taking the SAT 10 times looks bad. However, it is tough to judge if a 750 looks more like a 700 or an 800, or if a 2100 is just as good as a 2200 or if the 2200 is just as good as the 2250, and so on. What we have are our opinions and experiences with admissions.

    Do you believe that you can raise your score a significant amount (i.e. one scection by 50 or more points)? If you raise each section by 30 points you get a 2250, but that sort of increase will probably be due to having a better test day or luck rather than increased preparation. Your scores are good, but if you know you can get math and reading over 750, then I would retake. If there is any doubt that you can make a drastic increase, don't bother.

    I personally retook my SATs because I got a low 600 in reading and a low 700 in math while I knew from practice tests that I should be able to get an 800 in math and 700 in reading. I was just shy of my goals the second time around and decided that it wouldn't be worth a retake to increase my score by 30 or 40 points.
  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch Registered User Posts: 2,143 Senior Member
    Plenty of people will disagree with me, but I think unless you're going for certain merit scholarships, you are making a wise, sane choice. Being happy with those scores is both healthy and smart.

    Those scores are competitive at the schools you're interested in - and honestly they're competitive just about anywhere, with the obvious exception of specialty/tech/math/engineering-specific schools. And there's a nice consistency with your subject tests and your grades, too, so there's no need to try to boost the SATs to compensate for a perceived weakness elsewhere.

    I think it's more likely that if they actually stop to dig up and ponder the fact that they're not looking at a superscore (which isn't very likely - once your scores are seen to be competitive they pretty much cease to be a point of interest, and nobody but your first reader is likely to see the whole score report) admissions committees would be impressed by the single-sitting score, and possibly even pleased to see a kid who manages to test well and go back to the business of being a high school student, rather than indulging in a lot of hang-wringing over standardized testing.

    Hats off to you.
  • computersaavycomputersaavy Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    Once I decided NOT to take the SAT a second time, I felt like a huge burden was lifted. It made Junior year a little less stressfull, although I still had a demanding course load. However, so many of my friends are trying to get that magic "2250" score that lately I was beginning to doubt myself.
  • WantIvyWantIvy Registered User Posts: 489 Member
    To be frank, it would take a lot of effort to bring up your scores. Once you are hitting 700s in each section, you have to be doing something right. Actually, most everything right. It's just a matter of how much you mess up on any particular day because you obviously know your stuff for each section and of course luck will play a big factor. On the other hand if your scores were lopsided; say (600 CR, 750+ in other two) or something along those lines, then it is a lot easier to increase your scores because you just need to get one section to be at about 700, which is easier to do than going from 700-800. The bottom line is: it would take a lot of time, effort, and LUCK to bring that score up after considering your scores for each sub-section (CR/W/M)
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,328 Senior Member

    Does it look bad? No at all, bcos most colleges don't care. Agree with the others that a 2160 is excellent, and competitive anywhere. But, higher is better than lower, particularly if you are considering any colleges that offer merit money.

    One thing to consider is a self-designed score choice for the SAT. 1) Send out scores now (or in Sept) to any and all schools to which you might apply. 2) Retake SAT in fall or Dec, but do not list any colleges to recieve score reports. 3) If scores are higher, send those. 4) If no change or lower, send no score reports. Note, need to make sure that your HS does not put test scores on your transcript.

    Or, take a crack at the Sept. ACT, going for a 34+; when registering do not list your HS nor any colleges, so only you see the scores. If you score well, you could send that score report out later.
  • nukchebi0nukchebi0 . Posts: 163 Junior Member
    Since this is somewhat related to the topic, does my 2350 in one sitting and one attempt look better than a superscored 2350 or one attained after a second or third try?
  • BaelorBaelor Registered User Posts: 3,640 Senior Member
    ^Good question. I hope yes, although a few other posters in other threads have assured me that colleges do not care. Although I don't see how they can't be even unintentionally influenced by the number of times one takes the SAT.
  • nukchebi0nukchebi0 . Posts: 163 Junior Member
    I take it you did rather well on your first attempt too.

    I was thinking it would have at least a minor effect, even if subconscious rather than conscious.
  • vicariousparentvicariousparent Registered User Posts: 5,940 Senior Member
    Nice thread!

    I would say take it one more time in October of Senior year. Try to get that Math score up. Nice advice from bluebayou about how to do it. Gives you ultimate flexibility.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,328 Senior Member

    In many cases, an adcom won't even know how many times you took the SAT. When an application arrives in the mail room, clerks/volunteers/interns copy, file and make up folders. On the outside of the folders they write down the particulars: name, gpa, high school, highest test scores, AP/IB scores, etc. They then stuff the Collegeboard report inside the folder. So, an adcom would have to go looking for the score report if s/he really cared.
This discussion has been closed.