Addressing a Few Concerns

<p>I was actually planning on responding to a comment regarding this topic in another thread but I feel that these issues deserved separate attention in a discussion of their own. I hope to address my concerns pertaining to the unfounded negative sentiments regarding the point at which the number of SAT sittings becomes excessive and lend a special discussion focus to the falsely perceived beliefs of the irrelevance of attaining or transcending beyond a particular score total.</p>

<p>First, one has the full right to take the SAT as many times as he or she feels best. It is absolutely no one’s responsibility to belittle anyone’s decision, make derogatory claims about an individual’s sense of prioritization, or to declare the completely baseless assumption that an individual who takes the SAT more than X times lacks more fulfilling ambitions. Retaking the SAT - or any standardized test for that matter - is a perfectly valid initiative for students that feel that their scores do not adequately provide a proper representation of their respective scholastic aptitudes. </p>

<p>Moreover, I frequently see many members criticizing others for retaking or having thoughts of retaking a 2200, 2300, or whatever. Nevertheless, these statements demonstrate a tenuous understanding of the basic strategy of admission practices at elite universities. (For those of you with Ivy League ambitions in particular, I believe that the remainder of this post will hold some significance to you.) There seems to be a common irrational misconception that the achievement of a score beyond some value X is irrelevant or offers diminishing or negligible benefits for purposes of college admissions. </p>

<p>In actuality, it is quite the contrary and I have substantive statistical proof from a scientific study that was referenced elsewhere on CC. From the source listed below, we can see an exponential increase in the probability of admission as SAT scores approach perfect levels. At less selective universities that do not formally compete for lower admission or matriculation rates, there seems to be a positive linear correlation between SAT scores and admittance. However, at Harvard, MIT, and Princeton, universities that are routinely acknowledged for their complex admission tactics, we can actually observe ** an exponential increase in admission probability as SAT scores approach perfection**. To analyze the relationship between SAT scores and admission probability independently for each school, Harvard has a relatively stable rate of admission for those who score between the 92nd and 98th percentile; MIT has an * exponential * increase of admission probability beginning at approximately the 94th percentile; and Princeton actually experiences a notable dip in admission chances for students who score above the 92nd percentile but below the 98th percentile. But the one behavior shared between each of the three universities is a radical increase in the rate of admissions for students whose scores transcend beyond the 98th percentile nationally. That is, the most remarkable point discrepancies for admissions chances at elite universities exists for students who score at the 98th and 99.98th percentile, respectively, which is most universally and illogically viewed as the percentile level in which the demonstration of additional academic merit is immaterial.</p>

<p> <a href="http://www.infogoaround.org/CollegesChinese/RevealRanking.pdf"&gt;http://www.infogoaround.org/CollegesChinese/RevealRanking.pdf&lt;/a> <a href="See%20graphs%20on%20page%208">/url</a></p>

<p>What can we conclude from this? The most apparent inference is that elite colleges and universities are predominantly self-serving institutions that sacrifice quality simply for the sake of manipulating admission and matriculation rates to increase their marketability and subsequent public desirability. But the most relevant conclusion for our purposes is that the effect of SAT scores on admission chances ** increases exponentially ** as scores approach perfect levels – not linearly and especially not regressively as most tend to assume. To place things into a concrete perspective, the importance of an SAT score between 2300 and 2400 is far greater than the difference in scores than say, 2000 and 2100. This may be simply attributed to the fact that a student with a 2400 is within the top one percentile of all applicants at universities such as Harvard, Princeton, and MIT and thus has effectively distanced him- or herself from the competition from students who achieved at lower score levels.</p>

<p>Thanks for posting this; I agree.</p>

<p>Great Post. I agree.</p>

<p>So....out of curiosity, does it matter if it's in more than one sitting?</p>

<p>
[quote]
So....out of curiosity, does it matter if it's in more than one sitting?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>No, I am positive that Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and many other of the elite universities superscore SATs despite differing submission policies.</p>

<p>Very nice. :D I'll read it again to absorb it a second time.</p>

<p>Excellent post</p>

<p>Thanks for the post.</p>

<p>Very useful post. Just wondering though, how do you calculate your percentile for your overall SAT? Do you average the percentiles for CR, Math and Writing?</p>

<p>zmallet, </p>

<p>If your score is high, your overall percentile is probably higher than the average of the individual sections. By adding up all the numbers for scores at or equal to yours according to this chart (<a href="http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/sat_percentile_ranks_composite_cr_m_w.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/sat_percentile_ranks_composite_cr_m_w.pdf&lt;/a&gt;) and then dividing by the total number of test takers found at the bottom of the table, you can calculate your percentile.</p>

<p>@zmallet - These links might help:</p>

<p>Percentile Ranks for 2009 College-Bound Seniors, CR + M + W
<a href="http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/sat_percentile_ranks_composite_cr_m_w.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/sat_percentile_ranks_composite_cr_m_w.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Percentile Ranks for 2009 College-Bound Seniors, CR + M
<a href="http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/sat_percentile_ranks_composite_cr_m.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/sat_percentile_ranks_composite_cr_m.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>This is a burning question in my head. </p>

<p>So schools like Cornell and UPenn that claim to superscore the SAT leave me very suspicious when they do not accept score choice. If they really only looked at superscored SATs, why do they care how many times you took it? It seems as if they are really not looking at the superscored SAT when admitting students and using the superscored score for statistical purposes (i.e. to boost their ranking).</p>

<p>thanks Z.Exodus2008 and silverturtle :]
but I'm still a bit confused, since OP said that the difference between 2300 and 2400 is very big, but it seems from the chart you provided that anything above 2280 is already above 99th percentile?</p>

<p>Already above the 99th percentile--or, indeed, above the 99.5th percentile (although 2300 is just barely above the 99.5th cut)--doesn't mean admissions rate isn't still increasing exponentially over that top .5%; on the graph for Princeton (page 8 of the report), for instance, it looks like a 2300 corresponds to about a .275 admissions probability, but 2400 corresponds to...about 0.37? 0.38?</p>

<p>ahhh I see. this makes sense now thanks :D time to improve my SAT score haha</p>

<p>@mabsjenbu123: I understand and share your same concern and I have been expressive about that in the past. I fundamentally disagree with any university's policy that ignores the College Board's Score Choice initiative. I feel that it is absurd for schools to evaluate a student one way but exploit these scores for its own benefit in another. I believe that their rationale may be that the top cumulative score is not always the best representative of the applicant or else they may disregard the policy as a way of guaranteeing that they receive the highest section scores across all dates (for purposes of increasing their own selectivity). Of the universities that I applied to, I have a better impression of the University of Chicago, Harvard, and Princeton than I do of Stanford, Pennsylvania, and Yale because of their former group's recognition of the Score Choice policy.</p>

<p>
[quote]
but I'm still a bit confused, since OP said that the difference between 2300 and 2400 is very big, but it seems from the chart you provided that anything above 2280 is already above 99th percentile?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>A score of 2200 begins the 99th percentile and a score of 2300 is approximately at the 99.5 percentile. But due to the exponential increase of admission chances as SAT scores approach the 2400-mark, there is a greater probability discrepancy between a 2300- and 2400-student than there is between a 2200- and 2300-student, which in turn is a greater disparity than between a 2250- and a 2150-student (2150 essentially begins the 98th percentile). But we can observe that these gaps essentially recede once we reach below the 98th percentile at the three institutions previously referenced (but this admission behavior can likely also be observed at other elite universities). MIT is an exception in this case since it appears to not engage in the same complex form of admission strategy as Harvard or Princeton. MIT does, however, demonstrate the same uniform escalating preference for high-achieving SAT students. It is just that this increase begins at the 94th percentile.</p>

<p>so why do I always hear that a 2300 is the same as 2400? Btw thanks for doing this. I think thats interesting.</p>

<p>Although mifune's points are uniformly valid, I feel that it is pertinent to add that the higher acceptance rate for high scorers is not completely directly causational: higher scorers on the SAT will likely have higher Subject Test scores and GPA's, both of which are also considered in the process.</p>

<p>@silverturtle: Thanks for pointing that out. I should add a few points regarding that.</p>

<p>Yes, this study lacks a certain degree of dimension and is not purely causational simply because it only accounts for the SAT score on a student’s probability of admission (as significant as that factor may be) when other variables are present. Moreover, it is a perfectly valid assumption that there exists a positive correlation between high SAT scores and high achievement on other objective measures. In fact, it is even justifiable to speculate that there is a positive association between students with high SAT scores and students that have better qualifications overall. Even so, those facts still do not hold consequence for the finding that there is a stabilization or even a dip in one’s admission chances between the 93rd and 98th percentiles at Harvard and Princeton, respectively. A correlation would only strengthen the peculiarity or better delineate that a definite strategy exists in their admission behavior. </p>

<p>Yet this study suggests more of a reflection of admission behavior that systematically denies a continuity of admission probability for students do not quite exceed a certain measure of academic merit. It is a basic indicator that the opportunities of admission are greatest for those who demonstrate merit at a lower level and those who demonstrate the greatest degree of merit. The logic regarding the admission of students from the former group is that these students are not likely to obtain acceptances from universities that are perceived to be as or more desirable as the institution making the decision. Hence, the admission of lower-performing students (who likely will not be offered acceptances to the same extent as students who display more meritorious qualities) has a greater effect on increasing the matriculation rate at the given university which in turn increases the university’s yield and hence its selectivity and subsequent public desirability. In essence, the institution sacrifices quality for the sake of its own image. However, universities also compete for the top students since the standardized testing statistics (SAT scores in particular) are a direct reflection of the quality of the incoming class – more so than high school GPA and Subject Test scores since these are very rarely noted or considered when noting the academic quality of a university’s student body. </p>

<p>And yes, since there is, in theory, a linear correlation between SAT scores and other favorable qualifications, there would be an increase in an individual’s admission chances once a specific merit threshold is reached. However, it still does not account for an exponential increase in admission probability if these multiple objective factors additively contribute to a student’s overall academic merit. That is, if a linear correlation between the SAT and other academic measures exists, there should theoretically be a linear correlation in admission probability. But the results of this study simply suggest that these given universities begin to better increasingly favor merit at higher degrees of achievement. Namely, it is not simply a straightforward process that can be uniformly modeled mathematically for the full range of all applicants. </p>

<p>But based on the logical explanation for this admission behavior for the stabilization/regression of admission followed by exponential increase, it is logical that this same behavior would be exhibited even if additional qualifications were somehow factored into the study. But, in this case, the SAT was simply used as a representative measure of a student’s merit since it is intuitively plain that a higher score represents more favorable qualifications in other areas of a student’s application.</p>