SAT Score - To Test or Not To Test (Again)

Is 1460 good enough in the age of Covid? Or should rising senior test again (if possible)? (4.0GPA, 5.0HPA)

Well, that seems like a very good score. Does it meet with the 75% of schools s/he is applying to? If the score is on the high side, then it’s likely fine. If it’s in the middle. might try one more round. Also, has your child looked at the test or prepared in any way since the last round? That might have an impact also.

The score is definitely good for most schools, and the GPA is good too. You probably don’t necessarily need to test again, unless you can and have the time to do so.

Good enough for what?

Most schools? Yes.

Caltech, Harvard, and several others? Maybe not.

@momartist14 Are they going for merit scholarships or honors colleges? If so, check the requirements for each school. Some schools went test optional/blind for admissions, but not for merit scholarships or honors college acceptances.

Google the name of any school your D (I think from another post you said you have a D?)is interested in and the term “common data set.” Look in section C (data of accepted applicants to the freshman class) of the most recent common data set of the school.

Within Section C you can find the 25 percentile and 75 percentile SAT/ACT scores of the accepted class (marking the middle fifty percent of accepted students). If your student’s scores fall in the bottom half of the mid-fifty, assume that the school will be a high reach. Most accepted students with scores falling below the 25 percentile are recruited athletes, legacy children, children of mega-donors, URMS, or exceptionally talented in some way

. To be a solid match for good, but not extremely competitive schools, the student should be above the fifty percentile mark, though for very selective schools the student may need to be at the 75 percentile mark to be considered a match. For hope of merit aid, scores should also generally be above the 75 percentile mark. These are just rules of thumb in holistic admissions…the “rules” can change if your child somehow meets an institutional need…and it’s often opaque what those needs are in any given year, for any given school.

Safeties are tricky for high-stats students. Schools don’t like to be used as a backup safety, so they often reject students whose scores are so high that it seems unlikely the student would attend.

Some of the schools you mentioned are high reaches for everyone. The most important thing I’ve learned here on CC is to apply widely, do your research, and invest much of your time finding the “low-match/high-safety schools that will want your child (and that your child would be glad to attend).

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I hope that you realize that this does not describe admissions to the vast majority of colleges out there.

There are more than 2,000 non-profit four year colleges in the USA, and there are about 80 colleges with acceptance rates below 25%, and fewer than 100 with acceptance rates below 30%. These serve fewer than 10% of all students attending a non-profit four year college.

In fact, more than 80% of all students attending non-profit four year colleges, attend a college with an acceptance rate of over 50%. Big name, well known universities like UIUC, U Wisconsin, MSU, VTech, Rutgers, OSU, Purdue, Penn State, etc, all accept more than 50% of their applicants.

If an applicants stats are in the mid 50% for a colleges with an acceptance rate of 60%, like UIUC, than that colleges is a match/target. If the acceptance rate is 75%, then being in the mid 50% makes in a likely.

So, for the VAST majority of colleges, being in the mid 50% makes it a match, not a high reach.

I know that many people here focus on the 50 or so “elite” schools, but that doesn’t mean that they should be treated as though they are the only colleges that exist.

These would be competitive for >98% of all four year colleges in the USA, and would make 80% safeties (so long as they weren’t interested in applying for engineering, in which case that would be about 50%).

Does your kid want to apply for Harvard or one of fewer than 20 colleges which both have very low acceptance rates and for which this SAT score is below average, and the rest of their profile makes them competitive? In that case, it may be worthwhile to take the test again. Otherwise, it is an excellent score. For the 2020 SATs, it is in the 97th percentile.

Moreover, since most colleges are test-optional this year, not submitting the SAT is an option, and if the application is otherwise really strong, that would be a possibility, especially if taking it again will not work out.

CDS data is for enrolled students, not accepted students. Sometimes mid 50% test score data is lower for enrolled students as compared to accepted students. Check each school’s website (and student newspaper) for accepted student data, some schools publish that info, others don’t.

It’s too simplistic to use mid-50% test scores data alone to categorize schools. If we did this, students with a 36 ACT would mis-categorize some single digit acceptance rate school, when they are actually all reaches.

OP, what are your math and EBRW scores?

@Mwolfe, thanks, you are right. However, I responded the way that I did because I had read what the OP had written on another thread and knew s/he was referring to schools such as Barnard, Bates and Bowdoin. But it’s good to point out how skewed we on CC tend to be in our choices.

Mwfan, I know it is simplistic, but that is why I attempted to say, in so many words, that reach, match and safety schools will vary depending on selectivity and other factors. I was trying to give the OP some place to start thinking about this, not a definitive answer. My bad if I mislead.

^^^^this. Great post.

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@momartist14, lest I came across as elitist, 1460 is an excellent score, higher than my own D’s. My D will try to test one more time, and I would be thrilled for her to attain a 1460. That said, she will not be applying to most of the schools you mentioned in a prior post.

The simple reality is that it’s a great score and “might be” your only score during covid times. Can’t tell you how many kids don’t have any score this round but it’s a lot. If you have the chance to retake and you decide to the more information the school has about you the better it will be if" everything else about you is up to par for that school also. Make sense? I read on one school’s site that they will look at psat, other pre test scores, will look at AP scores etc etc. They will look at other things they typically wouldn’t to get a better accurate picture of who you are. I would look at the admissions page on each school’s website and see if their letting other things they typically wouldn’t help in their decision… Then, if it makes sense, use them to help bolster your chances.

Thank you for these very helpful replies!

Yes, my D is looking at highly selective schools and needs to fill out her list with more attainable options where she would be happy. (As you can tell, this is our first time with college applications and it is overwhelming!)

Scheduled for the August SAT but not sure if it will happen.

@Mwfan1921 she has 740 EWR and 720 Math and feels she could do better in Math with some prep.

@inthegarden what is a “low-match/high-safety school?”

@momartist14, no real definition, as there are so many factors in the mix in competitive holistic admissions…, but I think of it as, a school that might not be a rock-solid safety, but In that grey area between a safety and match. Schools in this zone would be more attractive to my D than safeties in which most student’s GPAs and scores are significantly below my D’s.

A low-match might be a school where my D’s stats may be at the high end of the mid-fifty percentile and where the admission rate is somewhat selective but not extremely so (maybe around 40-50 percent) and where I feel fairly confident that my D has other qualities the school may be wanting.

I think it’s a sweet spot to find one or two schools like that which your child would be happy to attend (as well as a true safety school or two). To me, a low-match school with attributes my D would like means she would likely be accepted, yet still have a good number of solid academic peers around her. This is more difficult to find when looking at small LACS (each with its own vibe). In a larger university, through sheer numbers, there will always be a number of strong students in the mix.

In general, the reach/match/safety categories depend on acceptance rates of a college, and the GPA/SAT of teh students.

So a college with 10% acceptance rate will always be a reach for any applicant (except a Nobel Prize winner).

A colleges with acceptances in the 50% range will be a safety for an applicant with stats in the top 50%, a match for students whose stats are around average for the college, and a reach for applicants whose stats are in the bottom 25%.

There is also the issues that colleges with acceptance rates of 10% all have “holistic” admissions, so stats are only part of the equation. Colleges with acceptance rates of under 60% generally accept students based mostly on academics and test scores.

So colleges with low acceptance rates are rejecting students whose stats are in the top 25%, while accepting students whose stats are in the mid 50% range. Colleges with acceptance rates of around 50% are generally accepting almost all students whose stats are in the top 25%. They are more or less automatically admitting the top 12%-13% or so, by stats, of all applicants.

Oof course it’s more complicated. For example, UIUC was very familiar with my kid’s high school, and, based on Naviance, UIUC accepted all students from my kid’s high school whose stats fell in the top 40% or so of their students. So UIUC was a safety for many students from the high school whose stats were within the mid 50%.

Also, if the number of applicants is rising bit admissions are staying the same, the top 25% will be changing, and the range of stats for which a school is a safety (or a match, for that matter) will narrow

So there is a students academics (GPA and rigor), and where it falls, relative to other students who are applying that year, there is the college’s acceptance rate, and there is the rest of the application (ECs, essay, etc).

The reason that people consider colleges with acceptance rates of under 30% or so to be reaches for everybody is that, while it is relatively easy to figure out acceptance chances based on GPA and SATs, alone, when dealing with holistic admissions, the calculations change year to year.

It depends on the schools, major and whether you’re seeking large merit scholarships. For Ivy’s or CS or Engineering at T10 schools the bar is higher.

S20 didn’t like his 1420 SAT score so he prepped trying for 1500. He hit 1480 and stopped. Could’ve tried again but was burnt out and was focusing on applications and essays. Probably the correct decision. Essays matter.

He got into all business schools but one. He was deferred and didn’t pursue. He received some nice scholarships and honors college acceptances. That said, the magic number for big merit scholarships and honor colleges seems to be 1500 but don’t underestimate the importance of essays.