SAT subject tests are NOT truly optional for middle/upper middle class applicants at elite colleges!

The third paragraph of post #47 rings quite true to me. @skieurope
As a matter of fact, even with all the superfluous language, I sent all my scores to some of my schools.

I am currently applying to elite schools as a performing artist and have somewhat assumed SAT 2s are required. I have no reason not to take them, so why not. Granted, I do better on AP tests and in academic classes than subject tests but oh well. :slight_smile:

I mean if a school wants to reject me because of one or two sub-par one-hour test scores, I cannot stop them.

I disagree with the OP’S assertion in its entirety.

  1. The elite schools are need blind so they DON'T KNOW YOUR INCOME AND THEY DON'T GUESS, so how do they know your income to see if you "should have submitted them"
  2. Admissions officers have repeatedly claimed they will not hurt your chances if the tests are optional.
  3. Admission officers state these are the least considered out of all standardized tests and are useful for students who have received something other than an A in the subject to show mastery of a subject.
  4. All this doesn't apply if they require the tests.

I actually think the elite schools’ admissions offices do know who’s Pell Grant. I believe that my son got into Penn based on a number of factors including the fact that he was a Pell Grant recipient. He was a decent applicant, but was “below average” for Penn admits.

I’ve always assumed my theory was correct, but I’m going to confirm that with a colleague (I’m an independent college consultant, and I refer many of my students to this colleague) who worked in financial aid for many years-and who works as a financial aid consultant. I’ll share what she says.

As far as my son goes, he submitted two SAT II scores to Penn, 730 Math II and 710 Literature. Decent scores, but not overwhelming, but he applied as a Fine Arts major, so I thought it was fine.

Check the school website. Columbia U, for example, has evolved recently from requiring both the written section and subject tests, to not requiring either:

They clearly state that you are not required to submit them and “you will not be at a disadvantage if you don’t.”

The impression is that if you took the subject tests and had extraordinary scores and wanted to send them, you can. As they say, “we will accept your results should you choose to send them.”

I would interpret that as being entirely up to the candidate.

At our admissions meeting with the director at Columbia (we two among 100s,) he made it very clear that CU was moving away from total College Board obsequience. We attended the general info session, the Science Day info session, and the URM session–that message was consistent.

That was also my take away from several other college/uni info sessions.

Well that would make Penn admissions undeniably an organization that lies. I doubt they think thats worth their reputation.

^^^For clarity, CU123 seems to be responding to #58.

“I actually think the elite schools’ admissions offices do know who’s Pell Grant”

I read a SCEA recap article from Harvard admissions a couple of years ago and they commented on how thrilled they were with the increase in low income applicants. They mentioned they were basing the stat on the number that had requested fee waivers. (Just one of numerous factors that can imply income.)

I think many elites are trying to attract more low income students and so they probably do know of that student’s low income status. When they say they are “need blind” I think that often means they don’t hold it against the applicant and in some cases it is a plus.

Yes, @OHMomof2, that’s exactly what I meant, and that’s what schools mean when they are need-blind: they don’t hold it against a kid if he/she is low income, and as you say, top schools are actually looking for diversity-- income, geographical region, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and what have you.

Need-aware schools such as WUSTL do consider whether or not a student can afford to attend, and, as far as I know, will often choose full pay deferred applicants over lower income “needy” applicants.

Sorry to have derailed the thread! Back to SAT IIs…

If one lives in a state that requires the ACT to be taken (WI for example) should a student take the SAT and subject tests or is just taking the subject tests without the SAT fine?

Otherwise it seems to be a lot of additional testing that isn’t necessary (taking both the ACT and SAT)

Just take the subject tests if you’re satisfied with your ACT scores. No college requires both ACT and regular SAT.

Like many schools, WUSTL is aggressively pursuing qualified Pell eligible students and is making a targeted effort to grow its financial aid assistance endowment. I would encourage you to look at it.

I would love to hear more opinions on the number of scores. My D19 scores were Math II - 800, Chem - 780, and American History - 700. If she is a stem kid is it better to send in just two? I know there are a few schools that want three, but it seems like most either say 2 or don’t state the number.

Send in all three. Those are great scores, and being that she’s STEM, that history score is a validation that she can be successful in humanities, as well. For students that I work with who are shooting for highly selective schools, I always use MIT’s advice, and say that anything with a 7 at the beginning is good enough, and in your D’s case, her Math II is perfect, so don’t be afraid to send the history.

My own two older sons each submitted 3 scores, and literature for both of them was the relatively weaker scores at 730 and 710; nonetheless, I think those scores were fine, and they both were admitted to highly selective schools (MIT, Penn, Princeton, etc.).

If a school doesn’t require the tests, but recommends them, could you potentially send in the scores after submitting the application? My daughter is registered to take Math 2 and Chemistry in August, but I usually like her to have two chances at this kind of test. But I’m not sure she’d have enough time to take it once, see the results, register for a second, if necessary, and get those results before Early Action deadlines. Totally my bad because I wasn’t paying attention to the necessity of these tests.

Check the college to see what its deadline for test scores is for EA applicants.

@sbjdorlo The advice I heard from MIT was 750 or higher for Math 2.

But to the other points raised in this thread - the first thing to do is read the requirements for each school. Which may have changed since last year.

what about international applicants that will may have to sit for their national exams not having time to prepare for a descent SAT II score? I have personally contacted all my reach schools (Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown) and the admissions officers said that it is ok if i apply with one Subject test considering the fact that in my country National Exam prep starts 2 years before the exams.

I go back to my earlier statement that I’m at a loss as to why anyone applying to a college with single digit admissions rates would submit an application that was not as strong as possible, and that includes Subject Tests. Keep in mind that international acceptance rates is about half of the overall rate at some of these schools. Additionally, if taking the corresponding class the same year, the amount of prep for a Subject Test should be minimal for a student keeping up with the work, particularly if the class has a final exam. And it’s not like US students don’t have competing priorities as well.

They are spouting the official line, which is that Subject Tests are not required. Feel free to believe that statement.

for an international student from a non-English speaking country, even preparing for a biology SAT II needs a lot of time, learning the terminology and this stuff. I believe that it is better to prep for an above average SAT General score and one Subject test than study for three tests receiving an average score.