Incomprehensible - Why were perfect scorers rejected?

<p>I read in some threads that half of the perfect scorers who applied to Harvard, MIT, etc. were rejected. I find it hard to understand. What factors could have possibly eclipsed the fact that they achieved 1600 on the SAT I and 3 800s on the SAT IIs? Let's assume that their GPAs were not lousy (such perfect scorers could not have lousy GPAs, could they?) Can someone please clarify?</p>

<p>Because all the 1500's were so much better than them, E.C. wise i guess.</p>

<p>Well, first off, they COULD have lousy gpa's if they were lazy with their schoolwork. Second, they can have little to no EC's...there are those who study so much and focus on their grades so much that they do nothing outside of school. THey could also have bad essays/recs or they could have just half-assed their apps because they believed theyd get in anywhere.</p>

<p>This subject has come up repeatedly. First of all schools rarely look at the actual test scores or gpa. They come up with some rating like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for those things. So a perfect 1600 may get the same 5 rating as a 1480 if the cut off is at that number. Also they do not know who is really going to be valedictorian many times at this time of the year, so again the class rank/gpa rating for #5 may well be the same as #1. Or the numbers are put in a chart and given an academic index as many ivies do. In any case the perfect 1600 does not stand out by the time the data is entered. </p>

<p>When the academic review is done, and the kids who get through it are then examined holistically for "other factors", they may not necessarily take the academic 4 over the 5. Anyone who got through the academic review is in for that part of the criteria and it may not even be reviewed again. So a 1600 SAT with excellent grades could get a high 5 rating academically, but be a 2 or 3 in other areas. His ECs may be laundry list, he gets no points for leaderships, he may have no hooks that are useful to the college--what he has might be a dime a dozen at a particular school even if they are impressive, his recs might be a yawn and his essays mundane. So he could be a total 7 in ratings. An academic 3 with 5* with the asterik indicating "great hook that the college really wants" would get in before such the "perfect" candidate.</p>

<p>And, yes, I have seen perfect or near perfect scorers with lousy gpas. Ever heard of underperformers. I have one right here, my son. Very high test scores and a mixed bag of grades including a lousy sophomore year. Also he has a rap sheet of activities and has ticked the school off many times. I am sure his recs will reflect this in part since he goes to a private school where they are very meticulous in writing recs. Doubt MIT or Harvard will take him.</p>

<p>They could have somewhat low GPA's. There are of course a number of other reasons they could be rejected including a bad essay, an arrogant essay, a bad interview, a not so stellar recommendation, a lack of any well-roundedness (e.g., no ECs). The belief that test scores are nirvana is greatly exaggerated, as actual results show. At those top colleges they simply get you into the pool of those seriously considered but everything else is what gets you in.</p>

<p>Slacking off is an easy way to have a lousy GPA but a great SAT score
For example, I got a C and a B last year in Alg2/Trig but i got an 800 on math IIC.
On the other hand is my friend who got an A but can barely get a 750</p>

<p>First, I'll explain my basis of knowledge for my answer. I went to high school in the 1970s, before "recentering" of the SAT, when a 750+ score on both sections of the SAT I was about as common as a 1600 today. I have also been reading a lot about the college admission process, and have visited many college admission officers at college fairs or regional information meetings of colleges. </p>

<p>It IS possible for a 1600 scorer on the SAT I to have lousy grades. I have seen it done. Some of the kids who get lousy grades even with high test scores are very bright kids who are bored with and turned off by school. SOME of those kids can get into the top colleges, sometimes by dropping out of high school and applying early. But in all cases it easier to do that if the grades the kid has had up till then are reasonably good grades. It is usually the analysis of college admission officers that a kid with high test scores and bad grades is LAZY--fair or not, that is the general conclusion. Most such applicants will not get into the top schools. </p>

<p>There are also cases when an applicant has both high test scores and high grades, but still makes a bad impression. I was told last year, on another online forum, about a boy with high scores, high grades, and a SERIOUSLY IMPORTANT national-level EC. He was, according to the person who described him, quite weird. He was so weird that he was rejected by all colleges that required an interview, even though he was accepted by all colleges he applied to that don't require an interview. So one strategic thing that some applicants should do is to be sure to apply to colleges that don't require interviews. College admission officers are trying to build safe, cohesive college communities out of the students they admit, so an applicant who looks obnoxious, arrogant, violent, or crazy will likely not get admitted. Sometimes people get high scores on tests AND high grades but don't have well-balanced personalities. </p>

<p>One more issue is that some kids get high test scores and high grades, but have little else positive to show on their applications. The SAT I, really, tests at a level of reading and math that is high by high school standards, but not superimpressive by the standards of the top colleges. That is why the top colleges generally require SAT II tests and strong ECs. It is possible for an avid reader who had decent-but-not-great math instruction to ace the SAT I, get good grades in easy courses in high school, and STILL not really, truly be academically ready for the top echelon of United States colleges. It is not at all incomprehensible to me that some such young people would be rejected, when there are hundreds of other applicants with SLIGHTLY lower SAT I scores and SLIGHTLY lower grades in harder courses who have substantial extracurricular accomplishments. There are only so many spaces in the entering classes of the top schools. Stanford reports, for example, that it got applicants from hundreds of kids last year with 1600 SAT I scores. (That's less than half of the national pool of 1600 scorers; there were 900+ of those last year.) Stanford admitted about half of those applicants. Harvard would get a larger percentage of all the 1600 scorers applying to it (I don't recall the exact figure) but it also doesn't admit all of those who apply. Other aspects of an applicant matter. Other aspects HAVE TO matter, when you have hundreds of applicants with the same SAT I scores all applying to just more than 1,000 entering places at the same school. </p>

<p>Does this make that more comprehensible?</p>

<p>Suppose that what jamimom said is true and that the cutoff for a particular school is 1500, then a 1600 scorer will get the same rating as a 1500 scorer. Isn't it too simple? Are you implying that there is no use for students with 1500 to raise their scores?</p>

<p>It may be that a 1500 scorer is better off building a STRONG, consistent record in an EC rather than trying to pick up 100 more points through a cram course or five more attempts to take the SAT I. Admission isn't strictly by the numbers, as all the replies in this thread agree.</p>

<p>Thanks, ppl. The posts are helpful indeed.</p>

<p>Last year, one young man that I have known since he was a child was turned down by all of his top choice schools. Devastating for him and his parents as he was an only child and the family has been ivy bound ever since I could remember. He had nearly perfect test scores and graduated second in his class from a reputable prep school. He was also, sadly, one of the most unpleasant kids I have ever known. Rude, spoiled, argumentative, entitled, condescending. He managed to antagonize every teacher, adult who worked with him. He did not get along with any of his peers for the same reasons. His parents were always there to intervene for him when he got into difficulties with his attitude. It is unheard of for kids in the top 10% of this school NOT to get into a highly selective school, so it made shockwaves when he did not. Of course, he had no other school than his state school (and I did impress upon the parents that this was a mandatory app) as any kind of match or safety. I am sure he would have gotten into highly selective school had he deigned to apply to any that were not the most selective. The parents and he just could not conceive that this could happen since mathematically the chances were against this But in many private school, the teachers and counselors write very thorough refs that include charactor analysis and I am sure that this worked against him, as I know he writes extremely well, as does his mother, and his apps and essays would be sterling. He also had a pretty powerful hook, but I am sure he antagonized anyone who worked with him in that area as well. No one wants a pain in th neck, and that honestly is what he is.</p>

<p>Sometimes it is worth raising the score, sometimes not. Few schools will give out threshhold scores, and they generally change depending on the applicant and the pool. If the average scores for the accepted kids starts going south, there is often an effort to bring in some high scorers, for instance. So it is useless trying to figure out where the line is drawn at any given university at any given time for any given applicant. </p>

<p>Sometime you can inadvertantly find out where some lines are drawn. For instance when we visited Wm & Mary 4 years ago, one of the coaches there told my son that he made the 1350 cut threshhold for out of stater and could likely get in through the admissions process (they already had their out of state recruits picked). Now this was right after the admissions meeting where the adcoms insisted that there was no cut off number. When my son mentioned this, the coach raised his eyebrows and just said, "trust me. the number is real," so for that particular year, an out of state athlete with a coach saying he could be a contributor (not recruited, that is a whole different thing) could get in with a 1350 SAT. WHat would that tell you about the non athlete, non hooked kid in the same boat.</p>

<p>As far as the 1 2 3 4 5 etc for SAT scores, I have also read on this forum that some schools add up the sat II's with the SAT I's, and they use these scores. So points matter if your otheres arent as good. I dont know how true this is tho!</p>

<p>You are right Laterdaysluke. Some of the ivies and other schools use an academic index which is five of your top SAT scores-SAT1M and Vand 3 SAT2s, divided by five and then added to a number that approximates or indicates your class rank. And there are kids with perfect SAT1s that do not do nearly as well on the SAT2s which can mitigate the situation.</p>

<p>Its because colleges want different types of people. They might want future political leaders, doctors, engineers, who knows what. Of course, a great SAT score will make it easier for anyone to enter, but if you dont have any useful qualities before test scores, you are easily replaceable. </p>

<p>But it also could be a flaw in another portion of the application. Thats probably more likely.</p>

<p>I think sometimes it's a crapshoot. One of my school's seniors didn't get into Harvard or Yale but got into Princeton. He had a perfect GPA and SATs, excellent ECs (definitely a leader), although they were mostly academic with a little sports in there too (track, I believe). I'm sure his essays and recs were stellar. The only thing we could figure: he's Jewish and Harvard and Yale are notoriously waspy.</p>

<p>A yale representative who was giving a presentation in our area was discussing this topic. </p>

<p>She said, "We reject many applicants with perfect SAT scores because many times it appears that there is nothing more to them, and we don't want people who have spent their entire high school career studying to ace one test."</p>

<p>=/ no they want you to ace the test and <em>still</em> have enough time in high school to do everything else (sigh)</p>

<p>TO Original Poster:</p>

<p>Are you from China or another foreign country? It seems to me a lot of international applicants are very naive, thinking that perfect scores will get you into the highest schools. thats not how it works here. Excellent scores are only the basis, the foundation on which you build yourself on. Suffice to say, you need good scores before anything else, but good scores are only step 1. </p>

<p>BTW, it is useless to retake a anything 1500 or above.</p>

<p>"Naive" is the wrong word to use. I would suggest "culturally different." From my experience, international students place the most importance on standardized test scores because the countries they come from use <em>only</em> test scores and grades to place kids into top schools. ECs and recommendations are totally disregarded. Therefore, it is not that they are "very naive," their educational systems are simply different than the US's.</p>