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SAT Subject Test scores/HS unknown to Ivies

inktopaperinktopaper 0 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
My son is preparing his application to several match and safety schools, but is planning to apply SCEA to one Ivy. No one from his small, private high school has ever applied to an IVY and no one has ever taken SAT subject tests. For some context though, 2 students out of a graduating class of 12 last year were National Merit Finalists. His SAT score is 1560 (790 Math and 770 EBRW), GPA is 4.0 UW, and he scored 5’s on the only AP classes offered at his school last year (Biology and English Language). We did not know the subject tests were a thing until this summer, so he took them in August with minimal prep. His scores are 760 Math 2 and 700 Biology M. Are these adequate? Will the 700 Biology score negate the AP 5? The culture at his school is somewhat “anti standardized test” and he feels like he checked the subject test requirement box and would be better served focusing on essays and his heavy class load, etc. But obviously this is uncharted territory for us. Should I encourage him to retake in October? Or is his desire to focus on the essays the best approach?
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Replies to: SAT Subject Test scores/HS unknown to Ivies

  • DCCAWAMIIAILDCCAWAMIIAIL 124 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Adequate is in the eye of the beholder... take a look at the percentile ranks for his scores. 760 in Math 2 is 63% (800 is 79% which means that 21% of the test takers receive a perfect score!) and 700 in Molecular Biology is 61%. This means that he scored better than 61% of the test takers.

    Do the schools he is applying to require/recommend subject tests?

    Personally, I think working on essays is a better use of time.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1427 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Don’t look at the percentiles as @DCCAWAMIIAIL suggested. Look at the scores. The general rule of thumb is that for the most selective schools, a score of 750+ is good. 700-750 is neutral and <700 will not add to your application.
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  • mathmommathmom 32356 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think the fact that he got a 5 on the AP Bio exam will be in his favor. He's unlikely to do better this fall when the material is no longer fresh, so I'd just move on and work on the essays.
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  • tgl2023tgl2023 97 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Taking into account that the Ivies that offer SCEA do not require submission of SAT subject tests, but recommend them, your son's 760 in Math 2 and 700 in Biology-M are most likely not going to hurt him, as his high scores in SAT and APs, as well as his GPAs should attest to his academic prowess. I support his desire to focus on the all-important essays and short answers of these holistic application reviews. As a reminder, Princeton requires a graded written paper as part of their application. Good luck.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 900 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    Subject tests are best taken at the end of the year in which the subject is taken (pre-calc in the case of Math 2) so the material fresh. Taking it again 4-5 months after last having a biology class, it isn’t likely that you’ll see an improvement. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, I’d say focus on other areas.

    Side note - Absolutely look at score percentiles. Raw scores mean nothing without context. If every single other student scores 760 or higher, a 750 isn’t good. It’s dead last.

    I can assure you that a Math2 710, below median, is not neutral to top technology schools.

    Also - “recommend” = “require, unless it is a significant financial hardship”. The average student shouldn’t just decide not to take them and expect it to not have any impact.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/2027962-sat-subject-tests-are-not-truly-optional-for-middle-upper-middle-class-applicants-at-elite-colleges-p1.html
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9223 replies494 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I’m wondering why he took bio as a subject test when he already had a 5 on AP bio. He would have received his AP score in July, so it’s not like he was hedging his bets. Colleges might wonder too. Even if they say they don’t consider AP scores, they will still see the 5 in AP bio (assuming he puts this in his app), and it will effectively make the 700 in bio worthless in terms of helping his app.

    There are some unanswered questions here. “Recommended” stuff is not really optional at super selective schools, EXCEPT for hooked kids. His school is so tiny that I’m wondering if you live in a remote place that might offer some interesting geographic diversity to Ivy League schools. If your son is an over represented majority living in a metropolis or a suburb, he might want to consider taking a different subject test. However, it’s a fair point that he will not be fresh to the subject of whatever subject test he takes. If the college he’s applying to requires all test scores, and he gets a subpar one on a different subject test, that will also not help his app.

    He should probably just focus on his essays now. He should not retake the bio subject test. He can consider taking a different subject test, of course. But he should also remember that a single subject test score is not likely to make or break his application.
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