Retaking a 740 SAT 2 in Physics? Bad?

Hello, before starting here is some background: I took and got a 790 in World History last year and an 800 in Math 2 this year and of course a 740 in Physics as the title states. I’m looking to apply to Columbia and Yale, alongside other top colleges. The problem is that some of these colleges require you to send all your SAT 2 scores while some require your top 2 scores etc… I’m a bit torn on whether or not to retake the physics SAT because I wasn’t much prepared on some of the more obscure topics not tought in Physucs 1 like optics and modern physics. Will admissions think I’m a grade junkie for trying to retake for 20-40 extra points? I can still send World and Math 2 to the colleges that require only two but I want to go into medical science so I don’t think World History will have much of a “wow” factor in my app.

Do Not Bother retaking the test. A 740 is fine (it’s the top 25% of a very self selected universe which is competitive). IMO you do run the risk of looking like a test taking automaton if you retake. Use that Saturday morning for something else.

@“Erin’s Dad” Oh okay thanks. But isn’t that pretty low? It told me I was 68th percentile for that test and that almost gave me a heart attack. Considering I was 95+ percentile for my SAT I section superscores.

The difference is a huge majority of all US high-schoolers take the SAT I, so your high score results a high percentile.
With the SAT II, only the top college bound students, applying to top colleges are taking it. So a 740, though an excellent score still puts your score at 68%. That does not mean you failed on 32% of the problems, it just means your competition was very prepared, and 32% were a bit more prepared.

Once you get to college, you will find yourself competing with these other high-achievers, so get used to lower scores, and lower percentiles.

@fauve Im just so scared that it’ll be the breaking point between getting accepted or rejected to my top dream schools. I worked really hard on everything else (SATs, APs, GPA, ECs, and other SAT 2s) and would hate for the to be the end. I don’t know what to do. Retaking it puts me at the risk of seeming like an automaton for colleges that require all scores as stated by the top poster but could give me an advantage for schools that only require your top scores.

Since you state you want to do a pre-med curriculum, you do not need a better SATII Physics score. A 740 is a fine score, and that will not be what keeps you from being admitted to Yale or Columbia. Adcoms will judge you more for wasting another test-Saturday morning grubbing for a few more points. They will wonder why you are not pursuing more important ECs.

@fauve Okay thanks. And should I try studying for bio SAT and take that too since it ties in with med science?

Yes. Bio and Chem are very important for med science.

@vogon123 I thought you only pursue a specialty (med science) in grad and not under-grad. Or do you have to state what you want to pursue in apps for undergrad?

I don’t usually recommend retaking tests but I think in this case, it’s probably a pretty good idea. Yale and Columbia allow you to choose what scores to report for the SAT subject tests so you can have a free shot at improving your score. Physics is an important subject for medical sciences (and is required in any pre-med curriculum), so don’t discount the importance of it, as compared to World History (i.e. I think a 780 in Physics looks better than a 790 in World History if you are presenting yourself as a science student). And anything below a 750 is not going to put you in good stead with other Yale and Columbia applicants interested in science.

But it also depends on whether you think you are capable of scoring higher on the physics test. My D had an SAT tutor who told her to to retake a 780 SAT Math II because in her practice tests she usually aced it. And she did get the 800 on her second try. Your 800 in Math 2 tells me that you are probably capable of scoring higher on the physics test with a little more study, so go for it.

@spayurpets Yale requires you to send all scores. Im afraid of appearing like a test addict looking for extra points as it could possibly ruin their image of my character. This is stressful. XD

Retake it if it really matters that much to you, but the difference it makes to your profile is negligible. Test scores should be the least of your concerns if you’re aiming for schools like Yale and Columbia. As long as you can get a decent score (which 740 is), it will absolutely not be the thing that makes or breaks your application. Honestly, few admissions officers will give a damn about your test scores beyond giving it a cursory look to make sure it’s not unusually low. A great SAT II score will not add much “wow” factor.

Yale changed it’s policy; one can now choose which Subject Test scores to send. However, I agree with the others and would not retake a 740. Spend the time on your essays; you’ll get much more credit for those in the admissions process than you will for another few points.

@skieurope That makes sense. Thanks.

I don’t think it’s going to make or break an application, but I come from the philosophy of–if they are give you a free shot to improve your score, why not take it? If you get a 720 the second time, then report the World History and Math 2 score. If you happen to get 790 on the physics test, then you have the flexibility to report that score. Let’s say, your essay is about how much you love physics and learned so much in physics, you want a score that will reflect that. If your essay and application are geared toward well-roundedness and interest in other cultures, then the World History score fits with that. It’s all about coherence across an application–telling a coherent story about yourself as an applicant to a school. I know a lot of people probably disagree with this view, but it’s what worked for my children.

I think this is a case where, if you’re rejected, it will not be because of the 740.

The vast majority of top colleges do not admit by major. Unless the college specifically states that it wants tests in XX and YY, you can take what you want. WH will nor be viewed as less than physics. You have a 790 and an 800, and very few colleges require more than 2 Subject Tests. I’d suggest just calling it a day.

Perhaps because there are better things to do with one’s time? If it was simply a case of showing up and taking an hour-long exam, I might agree, but OP is looking to boost a 740, so presumably s/he plans to spend time prepping. It’s not like s/he will be lacking for things to fill the time void.

@skieurope You have a point. So you think I should just send the higher two SATs, leaving out the 740 physics, to the colleges that only require two scores? And send all 3 to colleges that require 3 and/or specifically ask for Physics?

@krauser126 If the college does not require all of your Subject Test scores (and it’s only a few that do, and fewer that ask for 3 subject tests), just send the best 2.

I’m in agreement with @skieurope after getting some more info from the OP. There’s no point in retaking the physics test if the OP has no intention of reporting it…