Is it worth it to prep for the SAT anymore?

You asked the question, I think it’s worth it if he wants Ivy, they get SO many qualified applicants. My kids had tutors, $60 an hour once a week for a few months. Even with their busy schedules it wasn’t a burden. It usually meant they were up very late the night before tutoring was scheduled, which was fine. I don’t think TO means that good scores don’t help.


If your S has the potential to win (or place in), say, the Menuhin Competition or BBC Young Musician of the Year, then it might not be worthwhile to “spend tons of time studying for a test.” Provided, of course, that his academic record is strong.

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That is a pretty high threshold for musical talent!

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If applying to Oberlin A&S, I would apply test optional with a 1300, as that is below the 25%ile for Class of 2025. Oberlin didn’t publish score ranges for those admitted to the Conservatory, so if he’s going that route, ask the AO for guidance. Class Profile | Oberlin College and Conservatory

You can do similar analyses at the other schools on his list.


I know! The 2018 BBC Young Musician of the Year is at Harvard, as is one of the finalists of a recent Menuhin competition. My D22 is also a classical musician and, while she studied for many years at a leading conservatory (pre-college program), she is not at that level and her musical achievements will not be a “hook” that gets her into a super-selective school.

THis is one of the reasons why I wonder why bother, when you look at the break down of the SAT scores for oberlin for class of 2025 they give a crazy high number, but only 56% of the class submitted scores, so clearly hugely inflated.


Our high school has had many precollege students (as is my S) and they won much lower level competitions (or placed in them) and they definitely helped place them into highly selective schools. National youth orchestra, young arts, etc.

I agree the scores are inflated, and as long as schools remain test optional, the scores will be inflated. BUT…I still encourage your S to not submit scores below the 25%ile. Only do so upon direct guidance from an AO.

As you get further into the process your S should be seeking guidance from AOs…not all will give guidance on what scores to submit or not, but many will.

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I think this conversation is showing that it is clearly in his benefit to prep this summer and try to get a high score, there is no down side.


56% of kids submitted a test to Oberlin per the CDS - 34% SAT and 22% ACT. 1300 is not in the ball park - so you wouldn’t want to submit there. Their 25th percentile is 1358 - and some say not even to submit at the 25th percentile. The 75th percentile is 1460 - so while we don’t know the 50th percent - it’s likely around 1410-ish.

I know music is a different animal and I trust your child is good. But so will so many other musicians applying to Oberlin.

For music, I don’t have a clue - perhaps the test is less meaningful - but I’d assume that even for the best of musicians, with all the competition, a spot at Oberlin is no sure thing. So every little bit helps (i.e. test if the score is good).

With a 34% admit rate, I would not “assume” that a 3.8 - which is Oberlin’s unweighted HS GPA - is a sure thing.

If you do 1400+ on the test, it could be a boost - is all I’m saying - could be.

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It is such an interesting conversation. And this all shows how the SAT is such an unfair test. I will probably have him prep this summer since so many posters believe that in his cycle it will still hold weight. But this conversation does show why so many schools don’t use it as a major criteria for admissions anymore.


The down side would be if your child doesn’t want to prep and it becomes a point of contention between the two of you. You probably know your kid and whether this is likely to happen.


No, he is pretty funny, he was fine with it, wants to that and get a minimum wage job this summer, take a break (and practice of course, ha!)

He sounds like an awesome kid. Why are mine so irritable about college stuff. :sweat_smile:

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That’s good to know.

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My son (HS graduate 2020) and high level musician applied to 6 schools, 3 of them free standing conservatories. He ended up taking the SAT twice at school with limited prep. He focused the majority of his time and energy on audition prep and pre screen recordings. This gave him the option of academic as well as music merit scholarship, but gambling on music being the major money awarded. Worked out well for him as he has a full ride music scholarship. But always worth keeping all options open for funding.


Or can he take the ACT :slight_smile:

It’s not for me to debate the legitimacy of the test. It’s out there. You have top schools like Wesleyan where you’d be amazed at how many go TO. Or BU. So kids are getting in sans although the few schools that publish acceptance rates for TO and not TO, it does seem like the bias is toward submitting for higher acceptance rates…

But you are also seeking merit aid right - or you should be - and look at a school like Bama. They are TO - but if you want the big $, you need the test. But a school like Arizona doesn’t care. So a lot is school dependent.

So I think your last sentence is interesting - many schools don’t use it as a significant criteria - for that I’ll agree. But - many do use it as a boost for merit!!

They are seeking the best of the best. So if you are an average Oberlin student - maybe you get a small offer, etc. But if you are a top 25% Oberlin student and they get you instead of you going to Wesleyan, for example - that helps them move up in the ranks - so they’ll pay more to get you. It’s like a HS football recruit - for a 3 star, Alabama isn’t going to go crazy. But for a 5-star, they’ll do what it takes - because everyone will want that recruit - if that makes sense. Getting that top SAT can make you that 4 or 5 star recruit - to use a football analogy. Without it, you’re likely just a 3-star.

So again, I don’t think it hurts to take it - and prep if they have time. The worst that could happen is he doesn’t do well and you don’t submit it.

But if he does do well - it’s another plus on the overall record and can pay off financially.

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Is he interested in UCLA? They are no test (won’t accept them) and if he wants to be a music major, they look primarily at talent as long as the academics meet the UCLA minimum. Of course, expensive and hard to get into oos, but might be worth looking into.

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It depends on the test prep, what the kid’s initial scores were, and whether we are talking about a kid whose main issue is test-taking, versus mastery of the material.

The hands-down best test prep is taking the test. The point of prep is learning how the test works.

My kid did minimum prep, but her test scores improve substantially between each test she took. She improve her PSAT score by 100 from her first PSAT 10 to her second PSAT 10, and then by a further 80 points to the PSAT/NMSQT, and a further 70 points to her SAT.

Unless a kid is underperforming on the SAT because of test anxiety or having difficulty in figuring out how to translate their knowledge to test scores, any of the free prep classes are enough, if the target is to get the SAT up to the 1400s. However, since you write that his grades will be enough to get him into Oberlin, I would say that it would be worthwhile to check whether there is a case of test anxiety. However, he should first take a practice test.

What grade is he in?

He is in 10th, I was guessing based on his unpreped PSAT and minimal test taking experience due to no standardized testing for the past two years. He certainly may get much higher with retaking the test but I was going with a low estimate. I dont think he has test anxiety but he does have limited standardized test experience. He is a straight A student in all honors class in a blue ribbon high school so he may do much better.