Poor SAT II - kiss of death?

<p>OK, I need someone to calm me down (hope you can!). My rising junior got an A in her Chem class, and took the Chemistry SAT II in June. Unbeknownst to us, her school's curriculum doesn't track the SAT II. She ended up with a 560. (Her classmates also got scores in the 550-600 range, so we really do think it's the curriculum.) Her weighted GPA is about 5.5 out of 6; unweighted is about 3.7.</p>

<p>Anyway, she just finished Cornell's 3 week summer program. Her professor advised her that she needs to look at Tier 1 & 2 schools (she wants an LAC). Suggestions were Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan, etc. </p>

<p>My dd is not interested in science/math; she wants history, psychology, English. My question is: Will the 560 doom her Tier 1 & 2 possibilities? What if she takes 2 other SAT II's since most schools now require only 2? And must one of the other 2 be a Math one?</p>

<p>Much thanks!</p>

<p>No, it's not the kiss of death by any means. </p>

<p>I think that many schools now simply state that you should submit at least 2 SAT-II scores in the subject of your choosing (although I think some schools still require or highly recommend an SAT-II in math). To cite your two examples, neither Bryn Mawr nor Wesleyan require Math SAT-II tests. </p>

<p><a href="http://www.wesleyan.edu/admission/applying/new_sat.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.wesleyan.edu/admission/applying/new_sat.html&lt;/a>
<a href="http://www.brynmawr.edu/admissions/applicationinstructions.shtml%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.brynmawr.edu/admissions/applicationinstructions.shtml&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I honestly don't think a low SAT II score in a science subject for a student who's not looking to major in a science/math field will be a huge problem if all other parts of the application are solid. Particularly if the low score sticks out as a clear aberration.</p>

<p>If you took a look, you might be surprised to find how many schools do not require any SAT II's at all.</p>

<p>Thank you both! You know, you just start reading about all these mega-accomplished kids on this board, and you can really make yourself crazy!</p>

<p>Chedva-- don't lose hope. Please read the linked thread:
<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=75152%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=75152&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Lesson here is that selective colleges that require SAT II's appear to look only at the top 2 or 3 SAT II's. Meaning, if your rising junior could be OK if she ends up taking 2 or 3 more SAT II's & doing better. It may be a bit different if science/chemistry was in her college major plans, but that sounds not to be the case.</p>

<p>The other possibility for removing the chance that colleges could see this score is taking many, many more SAT II's. I have read (but have not confirmed) that the College Board reports that go to colleges only have one's 6 most recent SAT II's included. If your D took (or re-took) 6 more from now on, then if this is true, colleges would not see her June Chem SAT II. This seems a bit extreme to me, & I'd be a happy as a parent with 2 or 3 better scores!</p>

<p>There is no longer any "score choice" in the SAT II program. College Board takes the easy (for them) way out: all scores on all SAT I and SAT II exams you take will be sent to the schools in one report. From the College</a> Board website:
All available scores will be sent, including those from previous test administrations. You cannot send only your latest or highest SAT Reasoning Test scores, or separate scores for critical reading or math or writing, or only SAT Reasoning Test or only SAT Subject Tests scores.

For the College Board, it's "all or nothing". I see nothing on their website that mentions sending only the previous 6 scores, so don't count on this method to eliminate visibility to an early score (unless the test was taken when "score choice" was still in operation, which was 4 years ago).</p>

<p>Chedva, both my kids had very uneven SAT 2 scores (our hs is pretty bad about preparing, too.) One is in an Ivy; the other graduated from one of the schools on your list (Wes).</p>

<p>I have heard that even if they see the score, most scores only use the top two or three (whatever they require) in their calculations. So if she gets two or three higher scores in other subjects, the chem score won't matter--particularly she's applying as a nonscience major.</p>

<p>so, definitely, take a deep breath. I can't tell you how much fretting time I wasted, when everything ended up fine! :)</p>

<p>And also bear in mind that some schools (like Wesleyan, see the above link) will accept the ACT + Writing as an alternative to SAT I + SAT II's. And the ACT does allow score choice -- you pick exactly which ACT test to send (not like the SAT, where if you send a particular score to a college, they end up getting all of your SAT scores, including all of your SAT II scores).</p>

<p>PS -- Hang in there. Not all of us have the "typical" CC kid. We've all gone through the culture shock of seeing kids on this board, and some parents, bemoaning old SAT scores of "only" 1500. :)</p>

<p>D came up against a problem that occurs a lot in taking SAT 2s--and why looking at a prep book before taking any SAT 2 test is important. Science curriculum in school often will not be as comprehensive as the SAT 2 test. By looking at a sample test, you can see what areas you need to self-learn.</p>

<p>D took the Molecular Biology SAT 2. Biology at our hs is taught over a 3 year period (ridiculous!)--she had only taken 2 years before she had to take the SAT 2. She bought a prep book (the SAT forum gives some ideas of what kids think are good prep books) and prepped in the summer for the test. Got a 750.</p>

<p>Your D may want to re-take the SAT 2 chem test after prep. Schools will take the highest 2 or 3 into account--even though they will see all scores.</p>

<p>Yes, she studied from the prep book, but her teacher told her not to concentrate on the stuff they hadn't covered, but nail the stuff they had! So that's what she did. Apparently there was more on the test that they hadn't studied!</p>

<p>She really doesn't want to take it again - since she's not the science type, and will be taking honors Physics next year, she doesn't want to start studying Chemistry again. So if it's not urgent that she do so, she'll probably pass.</p>

<p>She's thinking of taking the US History SAT II (since she'll be taking the AP test, she should be prepared for it), and maybe the Literature one. She should do better with both.</p>

<p>Chedva, I sympathize as we found interest in prepping our students for these exams to be very vague and our kids really have to self-study and take the initiative. She is in no way "sunk" with one mediocre SATII score. For one thing, many great schools aren't that keen on them, but they will use them to see if your child's A stacks up with other students who also aced these exams...it says something about the school perhaps. I see SAT IIs as tipping factors in schools that have too many applicants who look alike. You have received good advice above. If and only if she is applying to a selective school and she is mid-range in their large pool, then you must help her either regroup and do the ACT approach, or prepare for a couple other SAT IIs with more rigor. (It is not a shock that her school did not prep her well for Chem, so let her shine elsewhere.) This means looking up things like chart distributions of scores on SATII tests so you are realistic, and that chart is somewhere on the internet..some tests have huge curves and some don't (Math IIC has a generous curve for instance but covers higher math, Math I has a stricter curve). The SAT IIs are only an hour long but if you look up score distrubutions, I believe the history ones are rather tough, so don't assume your AP course will get you there, although doing it along with AP is a sensible plan. Focus on only one SAT II exam at a time and digest that book and that practice exam. Unless your child is a savant, don't take more than one at a time. Just get ready and use the SAT dates in a way that spreads it all out. (Many kids wait till fall of senior year...too late...a very distracting season in life already. I suggest June of junior year which requires studying at the same time as finals and other inconveniences and not skipping off with pals on sunny days till that last summer SAT sit down date has slipped by.. it will never be convenient) She has to do the practice exams until she gets a score she feels is her reasonable best in terms of comprehending the material covered. Yes this is a pain, but it reflects what college courses can be like, digesting things for exams. I think that is really all the tests "demonstrate." Most high schools don't do much re coaching, so the colleges assume the student has shown initiative.
My S also did the ACT alternative but in the end he was too tired to really prepare for that alternative test style, figured out the SAT and worked hard on his SATIIs spring of junior year..about the time he got suddenly interested in colleges and more motivated. The ACT by the way has entirely different test strategies...it is fast paced, and speed counts for more, but it is less tricky and more straight forward. The ACT is tiring and seems long because it has a lot of content, but I guess this new SAT I is also longer and more tiring now. So don't take the ACT blind either....practice in actual timed segments until she gets the feel for it. It is quite possible she would get a nice subscore in science on the ACT if she did their practice exams.
If her favorite schools are not SAT II schools, you don't have to dwell on this at all, but otherwise, it is a passage she needs to cross in Test World, that alternative universe we are all so glad to exit.</p>

<p>Since your D is a rising junior she has time to take two or three more SAT IIs in subjects she is better prepared for. I think her chem score would hurt her at the specific schools you mention if she didn't have the suggested/required number of other SAT IIs in which she scored substantially better than that. I don't know if they require two or three SAT IIs now, but if she takes more tests and does well the schools in question will presumably not care much about the lowest score since they will not have to include it int heir own profiles of accepted students. In my experience a score on any SAT, I or II, below the "magic 7" (700) is considered a potential weakness in the context of the applicant pool to top schools; a student can get away with a high or mid 600 if the others scores are high. (I think once you get below top-fifteen LACs and top-twenty national universities this probably relaxes somewhat.)</p>

<p>The GPA you mention also raises a bit of a red flag; I am not familiar with a 6-point system, just a 4, but an unweighted GPA in the 3 range out of 6 might look weak to an admissions office unless well explained by the high school guidance staff. (Colleges often do their own reweighting to make the very diverse GPAs more comparable to each other.)</p>

<p>I was under the impression that the weighted scale is a 6-point scale, but the unweighted scale is the traditional 4-point scale. Is that right? If so, the 3.7/4.0 should be fine.</p>

<p>I thought SAT II Scores were primarily used for class placement.</p>

<p>It is true at some schools that SAT IIs are needed for placement in foreign language or writing or math and some seniors take them in December or the spring to give to the school that has accepted them.</p>

<p>Thanks for the clarification--obviously a much better GPA though not, perhaps, quite as high as the top schools would like; still, with a rising junior, there is room for upward mobility with the help of a few A's in AP or Honors courses.</p>

<p>Faline2, thank you for such thorough, well thought out advice! We were thinking about the ACT as well - I may just get the book and have her take a look through to decide which style she might prefer. The only problem I think we might have is in the timing if we stick with SAT's - since she's a rising junior, I think she wanted to take 2 SAT II's in June, after the studying for the AP exam is over. Should she study for one in the beginning of the year (like Lit), to take it in December? I know the history tests are hard, but she might want to major in it, so I think she needs to take them.</p>

<p>Mattmom, the unweighted GPA is on a 4.0 scale. The weighted scale is based on three levels of classes: Honors/AP begins with A=6 points; Standard college prep begins with A=5 points; Modified begins with A=4 points and other grades go down from there.</p>



<p>Now you can go back to the teacher and tell him that his method of prep works perfectly for someone who wants a sub 600 score. Honestly, that advice he gave was rubbish!</p>

<p>uurrgghh. Teachers who are dismissive about the SAT IIs and AP scores "mattering" are a sore point with me, although test driven curriculum does choke out work in creative areas and labs-- I do understand this, and enrolling in AP courses does not guarantee comprehension and test success. Even so, are we being straight with kids who are in tenth grade and giving them a heads up? Adults in our public schools are not committed to linking curriculum to these exams very often, and so it really is up to the student. I simply would like to see adults laying it out for kids...good scores on APs and SAT IIs are tipping factors in schools with very large pools of applicants, so if you want it bad enough, you have to devote weekend time to test prep unless you are a stone cold genius type student. This is a time management skill and a skill in foresight that you can discuss/guide choosing how to approach with your teen...some kids are ready for this sort of goal and effort and some kids are very busy living full active lives and will go to great colleges that don't use these extra exams very much at admissions. But it helps to get over 700 in selective schools on SAT IIs and that only happens when you are prepared. don't count on the classroom only.
Re the Lit test....I don't know if she should risk doing it in December...there are May and June SAT dates--and I would suggest she do SAT IIs split on both of those dates..also October fall of senior year is OK for one, although be careful..in our town SAT IIs are not always offered so get on collegeboard and map out a possible plan. I think doing the SATI in March and October is one way to go and then save those summer May and June dates for SATIIs.
At one point my S almost drove to a different city to take an SAT II (or was that an ACT?) not available locally on a national date. He was a very hard worker but frankly didn't have what it took to muster mastering the ACT at the last minute, he was out of steam and very busy as most students are, and before he hit his stride on that style of exam, it was too late really. Summers are great chances if you are disciplined to go to your room and recreate an actual testing situation..pencil paper and clock, no long breaks or real meals. Speaking of which, my S also brought a powerbar and water bottle for the break and it helped..that is one long morning. Hungry kids can't think at 11 am.</p>

<p>You have already gotten excellent advice. I'll chime in just to help allay your concern, plus to share some experience. </p>

<p>First, schools that require three SAT2s DO take these into account...if you read A is For Admission, the Academic Index is calculated from the SATs, the three best SAT2s and class rank. The good news is that they consider your three BEST SAT2 scores. So the advice that you got, that your daughter take at least three more SAT2 tests, preferably in her areas of strength and interests, will compensate and they won't be looking at her weakest score if these other three scores are higher. In fact, she is not going into science so that just adds to that point. </p>

<p>Some sharing here....</p>

<p>My oldest D is extremely strong at science. She won top science student type awards at our high school. I saw a rec that her chem Honors teacher wrote that mentions that she had the highest grade average that any student had ever had in her 25 years of teaching the course. Now, my child did sign up for the Chem SAT2. However, she went to peruse the test prep book for that subject and may have even take a sample test and she said there was lots on it that her class had not covered and she did not think she would do well on it and opted NOT to take it on the test day. She took four other subject tests instead. I share that because I think this sounds similar to your D with that test and what was taught at her school. Our HS does NOT teach to the AP exams or the SAT2 tests, that I can tell you. My daughter was able to get two of her SAT2 scores in the 700's and then the lowest being 690 was not as significant. Postscript is that she attends an Ivy League school and in fact is getting top grades which include coursework in science. </p>

<p>Since your D is strong in humanities, I will suggest the Literature test (that older D of mine did NOT take that, however). The Literature test is not one you would study too much for in terms of content but should practice some sample tests to be familiar with it. Also by taking practice tests, the kid can ascertain how she would do ahead of time and if this test is a good choice for her. If your child is very well read and good at verbal things, this test is one that she might do well on because it is stuff you build up over time. My younger one is strong in this area. She looked over the test book and took two sample tests, that's it and scored a 770 on it. But again, this was an area of strength but it is not like a test you would need to study for but just be strong in reading. So, it might be a good one for your child. </p>

<p>So, your child should take at least three more subject tests and hopefully and likely will get higher on those than the Chem one (supposedly quite a difficult test) and then that Chem one won't mean a thing. </p>

<p>Don't fret. Also, do not have her take an SAT2 test before doing sample ones in a test prep book to see if the test is the best choice one for her. In other words, do not just automatically take an SAT2 test because you took that subject at school. Also, I think the SATs matter more so keep the attention on those. </p>