Affect of Percentiles in College Admission?

<p>Do percentiles affect how weighty a particular test score is in the admissions process? For instance, the May SAT score report indicates the percentile for an 800 in Chemistry is 93 while an 800 in U.S. History is 98. So, would an 800 is U.S. History look better because a smaller fraction receive that score? (I realize of course there is a different kind/group of people taking the the U.S. History Test)</p>

<p>Similarly, how would an 800 in Math I look compared to an 800 in Math II? Math II is harder, but so many people get an 800 for Math II-- the percentile difference for an 800 in the two is pretty significant.</p>

<p>I have a feeling that the answer for this is "no," but I've never seen anything written about this, so I felt I might as well clear something up.</p>

<p>Well for math at the very least, the 800 definitely looks better in Math II as opposed to Math I. Regardless of percentile. As for the other subjects, I personally think an 800 in Chemistry is a lot more impressive than US History because Chem requires understanding of concepts while US History is more memorization based. Likewise, an 800 in Physics >> an 800 in Chemistry >> an 800 in Biology.</p>

<p>First of all I just winced when I saw the typo in my thread title xP</p>

<p>Secondly, thank you for your feedback!</p>

<p>If you trust the Collegeboard, then they standardize everything so that an 800 on one test represents the same level of achievement as an 800 on any other test, and the same for other scores. Therefore, percentiles are entirely affected by the kind of people taking each test, and colleges will probably take this into account, and might not even consider percentiles at all.</p>

<p>shravas, </p>

<p>Where does the College Board state that 800 on one Subject Test is supposed to represent the same level of achievement as 800 on another Subject Test. I have never read this, and it certainly does not appear to be the case.</p>

<p>Subject test 800s are good. Period. Adcoms aren't going to choose candidate A over candidate B because A got an 800 in Chem and B got an 800 in U.S. History---unless maybe it's for a place in a science- and tech-heavy school. But in general, an 800 on a subject test can only help you in the admissions process. (A possible exception: Some adcoms may discount 800s in language tests taken by native speakers, as these seem to be quite common).</p>

<p>That said, I think it's a mistake to assume the subject tests are all the same. Only 6% of those who take the Literature subject test score 750 or higher. Considering the pool of people taking these tests consists mainly of those planning to apply to the relatively small number of elite colleges and universities that require SAT subject tests, that means a 750+ score in Literature is really quite rare. In absolute numbers, there are roughly 5 times as many 750+ Math II scores as 750+ Lit scores, even though roughly similar numbers take these two tests. Does that mean adcoms will weigh the 750+ in Lit more heavily? Not necessarily. But it does mean there are going to be a lot more applicants with high Math II scores, so it may be marginally harder for the applicant with a high Math II score to stand out from the pack. If the college is looking for a balanced class with some students exceptionally strong in Math/Science and others exceptionally strong in Lit/Humanities, the applicant who is exceptionally strong in Lit may face somewhat less competition. On the other hand, the applicant who is exceptionally strong in both probably has the best chance of all.</p>

<p>
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A possible exception: Some adcoms may discount 800s in language tests taken by native speakers, as these seem to be quite common

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But it does mean there are going to be a lot more applicants with high Math II scores, so it may be marginally harder for the applicant with a high Math II score to stand out from the pack.

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An 800 in a particular subject being more common is what makes me think that it would have less of an impact.</p>

<p>Thanks, everyone.</p>

<p>Oh, and silverturtle you are hereby banned from speaking in my threads. Just kidding. But seriously, you and this Jersey guy, tsk tsk.</p>

<p>I think post #6 offers a reasonable analysis. </p>

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Oh, and silverturtle you are hereby banned from speaking in my threads. Just kidding. But seriously, you and this Jersey guy, tsk tsk.

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</p>

<p>Did I miss something?</p>

<p>It does offer a reasonable analysis. I was just pointing out some of the things that might support the idea that 800's are better when there are fewer. Sorry if I sounded dismissive of your post, bclintonk! And thanks to everyone!

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Did I miss something?

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Don't worry, you're the lesser of the two evils. (;</p>

<p>I'm dumbfounded on how a perfect score is a 93 percentile? Being an ACT taker, I'm not informed about SAT I or SAT II statistics and grade scales, but I do know that 800 is the top. How can anyone be higher than 800?</p>

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How can anyone be higher than 800?

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</p>

<p>93rd percentile means that the test-taker scored as well as or better than 93 percent of the test-takers. In this case, it's just the former.</p>

<p>
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Don't worry, you're the lesser of the two evils.

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</p>

<p>What did I do wrong?</p>

<p>^thanks for clarifying. I was confused since I remember in our high school placement exams, if you scored 100%, you were in the 100% percentile.</p>