Should I retake the SAT to transfer?

Dear College Confidential Community,

    I am a matriculating freshman at Columbia University, and I am interested in applying as a transfer student to number of other prestigious institutions, namely, MIT, CalTech, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Brown (MIT or CalTech would be my dream school). I have thought a lot about how I could stand out better the second go around. One thing I have done, is I have begun plotting to bolster my extra curricular activities mainly focusing on acquiring much more research experience, and getting published, as well as taking the Putnam, joining Columbia's Water Polo Club, joining the marching band to play Baritone Sax, and/or (because time constraints) starting/joining a math club. I am also going to try and take some advanced classes (I will probably take Honors Math, and Accelerated Physics both semesters, as my AP scores allow me to place in). I have also thought about how I may improve my essays for the transfer application round and I have already begun looking over my applications for freshman admission to see if I can improve. Yet one issue stands out: my test scores. I actually think that my 1540 SAT (800 Math, 740 English) may have been a weakness in my applications the first time I applied, with many schools looking for that perfect score, even with 800s on the SAT 2 Physics and Math tests. So I am wondering if it would be worthwhile to give the SAT or ACT a second go in improving my application for the next try. I should point out that I did not study for the SAT the first time around, so I figure that even if I just focus on the English section, I can probably raise my score at least 20 points with super scoring. What I am wondering though, is if the difference in scores would be worth pursuing, or if the time it would take to study, would be better used on some other stuff during the Summer (no way I have time to study for these tests during the year). Oh and because I know it is on everybody's mind, I would rather not hear about how I shouldn't be thinking about transferring. If you need to know, I want to go to MIT and CalTech because they have the best Physics and Math departments in the world, and aside from that I just do not think Columbia is a good fit, but that is neither here nor there. Although if you think I have absolutely no chance whatsoever pulling off this transfer, I guess that would be useful. I know acceptance rate is slim to none, but given that my application probably will not be too terrible, I would think I still have some semblance of a chance. Anyhow, any response is appreciated.

I don’t think it’s likely that your SAT score was a weakness in your applications.

Colleges won’t be too impressed with SAT scores taken as a college student. If you applied and were denied to the schools you mentioned above for frosh entry, gaining admission as a transfer will be even more difficult (they will still have your frosh app). When it comes time to submit your transfer app make sure to focus on what the new school has that Columbia doesn’t…academic reasons should be the primary focus.

I am not sure why you applied to Columbia if it wasn’t a good fit, but encourage you to embrace Columbia as the great school that it is and not go in as a freshman who is intent on transferring.

Good luck.

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Transfer applications are based on your college trans script and not based on your secondary school records (or SAT scores). “Mwfan1921” is on target! Transfers are also largely selected on a space available basis by departments. It is not likely that MIT or Caltech are going to have lots of openings as their student retention rates are very strong.

Target MIT and/or Cal Tech for graduate school. Seek out some strong undergraduate research to build a strong GS application.

Go to these Columbia websites and read about current Physics and Math department news. They clearly are not a bunch of hacks and are your keys to graduate school.

For Physics see

For math see and also

You are already in a strong position, work at it.

Hey! Did you end up transferring by any chance or are you waiting until March this year?

OP has not been on CC for well over a year. Please do not reopen such old posts. Closing.

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