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SAT Subject tests-maybe native speaker?

Sofiau709Sofiau709 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
I am Mexican and I took the SAT Spanish subject test and received a 730 and a 4 on the AP exam. However, I mention in my common app essay how I forgot my Spanish because my mom only speaks to me in English and that I had reteach myself at home. Will they count me as a native speaker or does the subject test count as the 1/2 that I need to submit for ivies and T20s ?

Replies to: SAT Subject tests-maybe native speaker?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,585 Senior Member
    It will technically "count" either way- the question is how much weight is given. The schools you are talking about are looking for evidence that you are somebody who really pushes themselves.

    For a kid from a 'typical' background, the fact that your first language is rusty still looks like one in which you have an advantage over non-native speakers, so the question becomes 'why didn't they challenge themselves by taking something different?'.

    It's just a question, though, and if the rest of your app speaks to the 'why' (for example, if you are somebody whose background makes it clear that simply getting through HS was a significant challenge) it will demonstrate that you have indeed pushed yourself.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 37,402 Super Moderator
    I had reteach myself at home.
    'why didn't they challenge themselves by taking something different?'.
    I'll add "why didn't they challenge themselves by learning Spanish in school?"

    The OP's story is a longer one that is unshared here, so I'd hesitate to make a blanket statement as to what is the best answer in his/her case.
  • lemonlululemonlulu Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    edited September 13
    how AO judges a heritage speaker learning their parents' language is not challenging themselves enough? based on the last name? first name? or the city the most migrants from a country? Schmidt takes German is not challenging him/herself? if his/her mom speaks French/Spanish, how can AO find out Spanish/French is challenging to the student or not? FL is FL, score is score. If I am Math professor and tutor my kid since age of 3, he/she takes Cal BC at Freshmen, my kid is not challenged too. But who knows. Again Math is Math, score is score. challenging is relative and BS admission slogan. so lame! I recommend all native speakers take their mother tongue as FL, raise the bar for non native speakers.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 71,524 Senior Member
    Just to be sure, you may want to have subject tests that fulfill the requirement or recommendation for the colleges without needing the Spanish one, but submit the Spanish one as an extra one if you want. That way, you are covered even if the college decides that you are a heritage speaker and that it discounts subject test in heritage foreign language.
  • lemonlululemonlulu Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    edited September 13
    I feel sad about this. Say a 4th generation south American vaguely speaks Japanese at home. But love to learn the culture and language, simply because her name is Hiroyo Suzuki and being discounted. And if every single subject we take need to be explained in essay, this is too much. I would say to HS students, be yourself , learn what you like, don't let AO dictate what you should be.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,585 Senior Member
    You might be taking this too much to heart, @lemonlulu. It's neither as black & white, nor as important as it may seem from these posts.

    The schools that will care (and most won't) are ones that are looking for students who are challenging themselves- it's why they look at the classes that students have taken to see how rigorous the course load has been. A native speaker who gets a really high score on a subject test or AP is not demonstrating the same thing as a student who has had no exposure to that language yet achieves a similar score. AOs certainly don't have the time or interest to parse this element closely, but quite a few of the more selective colleges make a note of this preference in their admissions materials.
    I would say to HS students, be yourself , learn what you like, don't let AO dictate what you should be.

    I strongly agree with this point. Here is a great version of that philosophy, from the good folks at MIT:

    https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/applying_sideways/

    Note that the emphasis on pushing yourself- to do whatever you do, to the best of your ability.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 37,402 Super Moderator
    edited September 14
    Say a 4th generation south American vaguely speaks Japanese at home. But love to learn the culture and language, simply because her name is Hiroyo Suzuki and being discounted.
    Nobody said that, or at least they shouldn't. AOs know enough to review within context. There is a distinction between heritage speakers and native speakers in regards to Subject Tests. Hiroyo being born and raised in Peru and taking Japanese (plus Spanish and English) in school will be viewed differently than Hiroyo moving to Peru from Tokyo at age 16. But if Hiroyo opts to take a Japanese Subject Test and there is no evidence of a Japanese class on her transcript. she should not be surprised if an AO raises an eyebrow.

    Linguistic skills for heritage speakers vary dramatically. Some can understand and speak at a basic level. Others have more advanced oral/aural skills, but cannot read/write effectively.
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