Interviews help! How to explain a low score

<p>Hi! Thanks for your help in advance!</p>

<p>I have my Harvard interview in a few days. I know one of the questions the H interviewers ask are What are you SAT scores?, and my interviewer asked me to bring an activities list and test scores. I'm planning on bringing a resume I've created.</p>

<p>The thing is, I have an extremely low SAT Math score (700) and very high CR and W scores (800 and 790). How do I explain this? I don't know what else they get, but I'm in challenging math and science classes and have done a research project, which, at the very least, shows I know my science.</p>

<p>Do I try to justify the score? Do I just pretend its an Ok score and not say anything? What if she asks?</p>

<p>I am surprised she would ask for your scores. An alum, right?</p>

<p>Relax!
Nobody will ask you why your SAT math score is “so low”.
Also, interviews do not matter very much.
I had a great interview for MIT (EA) but deferred then rejected. I thought I had one of the worst interviews for Georgetown but I was accepted.</p>

<p>Be yourself and don’t try to show off.</p>

<p>lookingforward
"I am surprised she would ask for your scores. An alum, right?"</p>

<p>Many of my interviewers wanted to know my scores.
Columbia interviewer even asked my EA colleges and the results.</p>

<p>As an ivy alum interviewer, I would never ask about scores because I am not an admissions officer. My job is to give the admissions committee some additional feedback OTHER than what's on paper, such as interest in school, your personality, maturity, confidence, etc. If you volunteered an explanation to me about some weak score, I would view it quite negatively--it comes off as defensive and not confident in your abilities. Frankly, explaining away a 700 Math score is like trying to explain why you carry a coach bag instead of a fendi bag--believe me, it would not come off well.</p>

<p>Agree with Erlanger- at the school I'm associated with, it is simply not what alum interviews are about. So, Erlanger, if this interviewer does ask, thinks it's her responsibility, how do you suggest OP respond?</p>

<p>My older son who is a math guy always managed to make 1 or 2 careless mistakes in math which brought his scores down to 740 and 760 if I remember correctly. Since he was taking Linear Equations as a senior having gotten a 5 on the Calc BC exam I don't think losing a few points on SAT math was particularly worrisome or meaningful. My youngest took BC Calc as a senior, he only scored 690 on math. In his case the issue is simply a matter of speed. Both kids applied to Harvard, the oldest got in. In the case of the younger kid - I'm pretty sure his GPA kept him out.</p>

<p>Anyway those are two likely explanations IF you are asked. I wouldn't volunteer anything, and I doubt you'll be asked. Did you get the question and answer service for the SATs you took? My oldest son mistakes both times were on really easy questions.</p>

<p>As I recall our son's Harvard interviwer (and some others asked to see transcripts and maybe SAT scores). It wasn't so much to ask about grades as to get an idea of the student's interest. So they might as if you like history if they see two AP history courses. Or if they see you have all A's in science they might ask something about whether you are interested in a career in science.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I have an extremely low SAT Math score (700)

[/quote]
only on CC would a 700 be described as extremely low. Sigh. </p>

<p>I don't think an alum interviewer will ask why your math score is lower than your other scores. An admissions person might, in an interview, ask about scores, if they seem out of line with your grades or what you have accomplished. However, if the alum interviewer does ask, I don't think you need to be embarrassed at all about a 700, which many kids would love to have. </p>

<p>Tests don't reveal everything. Maybe you're surprised by the score because you feel that your math and science ability is equal to the other areas tested by SAT. You could mention that, (only if asked, though) and then go on to talk about your classes, what you enjoy or find interesting about them, your research, etc. Try not to dwell on the test scores. That's boring.</p>

<p>From my D who is an H interviewer:</p>

<p>"I think people ask for scores because the form we get has a box where we rate academic achievement on a scale from 1-5 and get guideline SAT/ACT scores to help differentiate between the ratings. The Harvard Club of XX just got a new admissions office overseer and he came out last month to talk to us. He said that box is not very important on the interview form because the admissions office both has more information than we do and has a better idea of what that information means. He advised us not to stress about getting that number right, because his analysis of the applicant's academic rigor will trump ours. He advised not asking for SAT scores. Other admissions officers might advise differently.</p>

<p>If an interviewer asks you to explain your SAT scores (lame on the interviewer's part) the best advice I have is to not freak out and make that part of the discussion a big deal...just move on to discussing your strengths as quickly as possible. Also, since when is 700 a terrible score?!"</p>

<p>So her advice tracks erlanger's advice. Academic potential is determined by the admissions committee who has all your scores and GPA, so don't fret about having to explain yourself. Freaking out about your 700 score on math in your interview would be more of a downer than the score itself.</p>

<p>Wow! Thanks for all the responses!</p>

<p>I've heard others say the interviewer asked for their SAT scores, and my interviewer wanted to at least know it. </p>

<p>So in the odd event that she does ask me to explain the scores, what should I say? I could just say oh these are my scores, and then wait for her to ask another question. She might not ask because its on my resume anyway, so she'd have it.</p>

<p>I would kill for that high in math...</p>

<p>I am an alum interviewer for another school, and we are specifically told not to ask about scores/grades, etc., but to get to know the other aspect of the student to help them and the school see if they are a good fit, as well as to help answer questions about the school that the student may have. We may ask if they bought a resume, but we don't ask about grades, scores, etc. Relax.</p>

<p>In a nutshell, if someone gets hung up on asking you to <em>explain</em> (which I don't think will happen, but I guess it's good to be prepared), how about something along the lines of, I don't know why my math score is different than the others. All I can tell you is that I enjoy math and science as much as I do my other subjects (or whatever you feel is true for you), and am doing well in my classes, and in particular, I find xxxx interesting . . .and in science, I have always been fascinated by xxx and last year I did a research project about xxxx, which was exciting because . . .etc. etc.</p>

<p>What you can say -any of these are possible (just pick one that is true!):</p>

<ol>
<li>I'm good at math, but sometimes I run out of time.</li>
<li>I think I must have made a careless mistake or two as I felt good about the test.</li>
<li>I got the question and answer service, and I see I misread a a couple of questions.</li>
<li>There were a couple of questions that covered material we didn't have in class.</li>
<li>I always score lower in math than verbal, which is odd because my grades in school don't reflect any difference in ability.</li>
</ol>

<p>But again, I wouldn't say anything unless the interviewer specifically asks why your math score might be lower. And I agree - it's good to be reminded 700 is a very good score. It's probably is only a few wrong answers.</p>

<p>^ It has to be delivered as a positive. Running out of time, making careless mistakes, etc, make him seem like a less than attentive student. Possibly a less qualified candidate.</p>

<p>The Dir of Admissions at the college where D1 is now asked her point blank if she thought her math score reflected her abilities. She instantly said, no. That was what he wanted to hear. I was there, saw this convert from a liability. The context of our question was different, though. Ha, and her score was considerably lower than 700.</p>

<p>
[quote]
The Dir of Admissions at the college where D1 is now asked her point blank if she thought her math score reflected her abilities. She instantly said, no.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>To hijack this thread a bit, what if the answer had been yes? As in, the potential English major has an 800 in CR and a 700 in math. Couldn't the answer be yes, and be okay?</p>

<p>My Dad has done alumni interviews for Yale and was specifically told not to ask about grades or test scores.</p>

<p>I'm a little confused now!</p>

<p>If I am asked to explain, I think I'll say "I don't think this score is reflective of my true abilities, as some of my favorite classes in school have been my challenging math classes, and I did well in them." </p>

<p>Good idea or bad idea? I just want to know what I should say if asked. If I am not asked, since it is on my resume, I won't say anything.</p>

<p>I think you are wrong to assume that anyone will think its a bad score in need of explanation. I think Mathmom hit the possible explanations, but I don't think anyone will rule you out of anything because of that score. Things happen on tests - no one expects every test to be perfect.</p>

<p>I was disappointed that my mathwhiz son scored 760, but he was more mature. He didn't want to retake because he said he always seemed to make a mistake or two and it wasn't a big deal. Now maybe if you intended major is math you could say, "well 700 isn't amazing, but my record shows I love math and I'm good at it." You don't want to be making excuses.</p>

<p>Waiting, sounds like a fine plan.</p>

<p>I do alumni interviewing for Brown and we too are told not to ask about scores and grades. I'm surprised that Harvard interviewers do ask. I don't know why the admissions office would care what I thought about the scores, and if I get a kid who is articulate, thoughtful and interesting to talk to, I'm not going to let a low score keep me from saying so in my write-up.</p>

<p>The only reason I can think why someone might ask for a low score to be justified is to see how the candidate deals with being put in a stressful situation, and I think the OPs response is perfect to that end.</p>