Can I Get Into Duke With A Lower SAT? Should I Submit My SAT Score?

This year, Duke doesn’t require you to submit SAT/ACT scores and they have claimed that not doing so will not advantage or disadvantage an applicant.
Do you guys think this is true? Or do you think they’ll still use these scores to break ties?

Seeing this, if my fall SATs are below Duke’s median (1520), should I submit them (say if I got something like a 1480-1500)?

Thanks for any advice!

Submit it. Due to the test-optional policy, there may be more applicants, including many not sending a test score, so it could help you stand out.

Hmm. Not sure I agree with that. Are you first gen, low SES, or URM? Then maybe submit a score. Otherwise, I don’t see a point in submitting a score that is below the median. You put things in your app that will enhance it. A lower than average test score isn’t an enhancement.

I am not any of those things. I am studying all summer to see what my SAT will end up being. If its above, I think I’ll submit it. Thanks!

I’m not sure if it’ll help me if its below the median though.

@Lindagaf is a very experienced poster, and I am inclined to agree with her: submitting a score that is below the median is more likely to hurt than help.

@socaldad2002 has daughter who is a top of her class type student with slightly lower but still high boards. She is going to be a freshman at duke. He could answer a lot for you.

I don’t know if I would categorize my D20’s ACT scores as “slightly lower” as she has a 34 composite (which is within Duke’s 33-35 middle 50%) Lol.

But to answer OPs question, I would submit an SAT score if it’s at least very high 1400 (say 1480 or above) with the goal to try and get within the middle 50% range of accepted students historically.

I personally think that students that don’t submit a score ARE at a disadvantage because there will be thousands of applicants who took these tests early in their Junior year and will have high tests scores before the testing agencies shutdown in March. I would prep like crazy and take the SAT late summer early fall.

Also, if you are not getting the practice score you want on the SAT, maybe the ACT will be a better test for you. Most students do better on one test over the other.

If you can afford it financially and you know Duke is your #1 college, I would consider applying Early Decision. Last year, the ED acceptance difference was 21% vs 6% regular decision. The overall combined acceptance rate was 7.7%.

Even factoring in a “hooked” applicants for ED the acceptance rate was considerably higher applying early. And even if you don’t get in ED, 10% of the applicants were deferred and of those, 10% ultimately received an acceptance in RD, higher than the general RD applicants.

Lastly, I’m a big believer in “packaging” yourself. Tell a compelling story of why you would be an asset to Duke and your essays and LORs are going to corroborate the story. You want the adcoms to be an advocate for you in the committee meetings so give them a lot of ammunition!

Good luck.

The general rule I’ve heard from admissions officers from test optional schools is to submit standardized test scores if they are at or above the average for the school and to go test-optional if the scores are below the average for the school. I’d see how your scores end up and follow this advice.

Duke’s mid 50% last year was 1500-1560. I would not recommend submitting a score that is 20 points below the 25th percentile, given the option.

1500-1510, I’d need to think hard about. 1520+ I’d submit.

@socaldad2002 no a 34 isn’t low at all. It’s fantastic. I just recalled a modest disconnect you mentioned as a narrative from your posts much earlier last year from her act or sat vs uw gpa and ap success. I only recalled to help the op. If that wasn’t accurate I’m not researching the archives. Lol.

In general, if you are around 1500, you check the box and they move on to the rest of your app.

My concern would be if OP gets a 1480+ (98th percentile) and the adcoms may think that he/she scored a lot lower on the test and is the reason it’s not submitted? A 1480 is not BELOW the 25th percentile as you stated, is slightly below the middle 50%. Said another way, it’s slightly below the average of kids accepted to Duke as the overall average is around 1510.

Tough call but this year I would submit a 1480+ as the average SAT may be slightly lower from previous years as some students will not have had a chance to take the SAT multiple times as in years past because of CV-19, thereby possibly lowering the average score submitted? Who knows but it’s hard to not submit a 98th percentile SAT IMO.

I think the confusion was that last year I started a thread about D20 and asked about chances for an “average excellent” student for top colleges as she didn’t really have any hooks, national awards, only took 3 years foreign language, dropped her varsity sport senior year, and did not take an AP science course other then ES, etc but she did have a 4.0 and 34 ACT, did senior year academic decathlon, took 8 AP classes, had an elected position in student government and did some social action advocacy in Washington DC over three years. Probably the definition of “average excellent” on CC.

@socaldad2002 Please remind me If your daughter applied ED to Duke?

Yes she did.

I am prepping all summer for fall SATs in the event my school opens in time (I think it will). I am prepping for 2 months, about 3-5 hours each day (6ish days a week, to make sure I don’t burn out, I’ll break for a week though). I am applying early decision! I also have legacy (although its my grandfather, so a little weaker), so that should help. I will take both practice SATs and ACTs and compare them to see which one I should take in the fall. Thank you so much for your advice, it helped a lot!

If you were not to submit a score of, say, 1490, Duke could infer a wide range of possible scores for you, of which almost all would be lower than, or much lower than, 1490. Btw, the advice not to submit a score that is below average, if universally followed, would result, through iteration, in all test-optional colleges approaching a 25th–75th percentile SAT profile of 1600–1600 for those submitting scores.

Note that Duke doesn’t look at SAT scores in continuum. Said another way, a 1560 and a 1600 are viewed EXACTLY THE SAME. Duke assigns a 1-5 score for a candidate based on six factors, one of which is standardized test scores. I don’t know the exact cutoffs, but I’m willing to guess a 1480 isn’t viewed any differently than a 1500, especially if viewed within context of high SAT II scores. I would personally submit a high 1400s score for sure. Duke is also aware that getting one more math question wrong can be the difference between a 1520 and 1480. Submitting a high 1400 at least let’s you “check the box.” It won’t get you in, but proves you pass a certain threshold to be considered a competitive applicant. The rest of your application would then be the determining factor.

So, if you believe the rest of your application is extremely strong, then perhaps I wouldn’t submit (as other factors would hold more weight). If the rest of your application is simply “competitive for admission,” I’d submit a decently competitive SAT score as it REINFORCES your candidacy and lends more evidence to your ability to perform well as a Duke student. Adcoms like to see things that re-affirm their impressions.

i think you should still submit your SAT score because it shows that you still achieved a really good score even though its below Duke’s median. like bluedog said tho, if the other parts of your application are already really strong, then i dont think you would need to submit it.

but if you submit your score thats still really good but below the median, u will most likely look better than other applicants who didn’t submit a score at all.

I would say to consider your score in the context of the rest of your app. If your GPA and ECs are extraordinary (ranked 1 in your class, did a lot of really cool things), my advice would be to not submit the score. If it would be considered a highlight within your app…it’s probably best to send the score. Good luck!