Can a single bad score be fatal?

<p>Hello, I'm applying to Caltech, but I received a 680 in physics, is it a fatal score (57th percentile)? It's not that I really don't understand Physics, it's just that I had never taken the course, except in 10th grade where the course pretty much only covered mechanics. On the actual test I believe I misread somethings, wasn't very strong on E/M and optics, and paced myself badly, is Caltech still a possibility?</p>

<p>I have an 800 in math, 770 verbal, 800 Math IIC, 800 writing, 740 US history, and I plan to take Chemistry test (my teacher last year originally said that the chemistry test is difficult if you haven't taken chem AP), but Caltech doesn't take any EA scores past October (and I've already sent them a bunch of stuff, and teachers/counselor letters have been sent).</p>

<p>My grades are also decent, I'm rank 1/570, and I've taken multivariable calculus, a computational linear algebra course, and I'm currently taking elementary differential equations (none of these courses are common at my high school, I believe only 2 or 3 others in the history of my school have taken such courses). And i've recieved 5s on all 5 APs.</p>

<p>My basic question is, can one score ruin you at Caltech?</p>

<p>I do believe a bad score can be fatal. Sheesh, sheesh a 680? I give you 2 weeks to live max.</p>

<p>a 680?..horrrrible..i recommend u ..quit school..and start dancin in the train station for money..that way ur at least..entertainin the ppl..</p>

<p>The above post was probably the funniest I've seen yet.</p>

<p>This post, I assure you, will be free of any irony. No, your 680 won't hurt you. By the way, percentiles are meaningless.</p>

<p>What are you gonna major in? I'd say that the number of majors offered by Caltech that aviod physics as a major component are a lot less than those that don't aviod it. What I mean to say is, at caltech, physics is pretty important. I'd say that you need to explain your low score somewhere in the application. Also, do you have research or anything else that makes you stand out? Caltech gets a lot of applicants that look like you and I don't mean to get you real down, but they might see your score as an excuse to ax you. Since you MUST have a science SAT II to apply and you don't sound too optimistic about the chem one, that doesn't sound like it'll turn out well. My advice would be to heavily review those things you didn't originally learn in physics (even if that means everything but mechanics) and take it again. If you get a much better score, it'll just look like you messed up and that you really have sufficient physics skills.</p>

<p>don't worry about it.</p>

<p>seriously... some people, jeez.</p>

<p>I think I sounded too desperate/depressed in my post, and the joke (or were they jokes at all?) responses are okay (although I would have appreciated actual advice more). </p>

<p>I think it's more because I did badly on the test than because I didn't understand Physics. And after a year of the AP course (and I'm generally more motivated to study for APs than SAT IIs), I'm sure I can understand the subject well. I never have problems in Physics class for example (I genrally get As on all the tests and do well on all my labs), and I don't have trouble understanding Physics concepts, I just think that I didn't undestood E/M that well. Plus I omitted a ton of easy stuff, planning to come back to it, but I didn't have time (bad pacing? our proctor also cut us off a few minutes early, and I believe I misread/overanalyzed a few questions). After taking the test, I thought that I hadn't done so poorly, and I had gotten a mid-700 on the Real SAT II book the night before. </p>

<p>I plan to major in Mathematics or Computer Science if I go to Caltech, I do not plan to avoid Physics, in fact I like Physics, but the Science department at our school generally isn't stellar.</p>

<p>As far as Chem goes, I am optimistic, I just didn't have the confidence to take it in October, I suppose. I'm taking practices and my scores are generally climbing. I should be able to pull a high 700 if Kaplan is indicative of the actual Chemistry Test. But my main worry is, will Caltech take scores after October for EA (I've already sent almost everything in, so I'm not sure if I can switch out of EA, and Caltech isn't my first choice either, so I my chances are ruined I can live upto it).</p>

<p>Yes I do have some research experience (about 30 hours during the summer, but I'm continuing next quarter, since I didn't have time for it at the begenning of the school year). I'm working on Electrochemical Step Edge Decoration (nanowire growth by deposition) of pure silver nanowires and how various variables affect the growth of these nanowires at UCI.</p>

<p>Thanks for everyone's help.</p>

<p>Are there any other thoughts out there on this?</p>

<p>680 will probably hurt you, esp if ur aiming for CS, or Engineering, at MIT and Caltech.
I say retake it in DEC, coz A's in AP's is no joke. I suggest you get the PR book and do the practice tests, they are EXTREMELY accurate.</p>

<p>So I can still submit further scores for some psychological effect even after the score deadlines?</p>

<p>yes, thats what i'm doing!! Its worth a try!!</p>

<p>Sherwin, go ahead and apply to Caltech and retake the Physics. My S is in the same boat, made a 650 on the Physics w/o studying and now is too embarrassed to apply at the Ivies. It's sad that getting into a good college nowadays is hinged on how long and hard you study the Princeton Review or Kaplan's. Some people just don't have time to do all that prep.</p>

<p>Thanks for the encouragement and advice, everyone.</p>

<p>Well, the Caltech website says that the October administration is the last for Early Action, so I think you're stuck with your score. However, your new score will be considered should you be deferred to RD. Your class rank is excellent, and the rest of your scores are too - so hopefully one less than stellar SAT II will be ok!</p>

<p>XD at the first few responses.</p>

<p>everyone i know..(not stupid students but like admissions peeps)..told me they dont find reasons to prevent you from goin there..rather for you to attend..like they arent gonna use ONE freakin bad score against u..when everything else of urs is pretty stellar..i mean they arent stupid..that score means nothin actually..goddd they arent gonna assume ur a big idiot..but if u constantly keep tryin..then they might think u r..just relax..if u didnt even wanna retake it..u dont have to..honestly..gosh!..</p>