Should my daughter submit her ACT score?

My daughter just received her ACT score and it’s one point lower than she had hoped. We have heard that in this test optional year, only send the the score if it’s in the middle 50% of the school’s scores. In almost every case, the composite is one point lower than the middle 50%, but the English and Math scores are firmly middle 50%. Her reading score was a bit lower than in the many practice tests she took and brought the composite down. She has a very high GPA, in the top 20% of all her schools. So the question is: should she send the ACT score?

Really need to know the school here to give the best advice. Unweighted GPA and rigor would be good to know too.

Generalizing…if the composite is below the 25%ile of admitted students (that sounds like what you are saying…“the composite is one point lower than the middle 50%”) then generally I would say don’t submit. Some schools have been very clear to not submit if the score is below the median.

It may depend on the school and the score.

She has a 3.87 unweighted GPA with 9 AP classes. Her score was a 29. She’s applying to Boston University, George Washington University, New York University, University of Washington, Fordham, and three UC schools, but those aren’t accepting scores.

Just one opinion…I would not submit that score at any of those schools were a 29 composite is below the 25%ile of admitted students. If you can’t find mid-50% on admitted students, use the enrolled student numbers on the CDS.

The grayest area IMO is where her composite is between the 25%ile and 50%ile, so below the median, but above the 25%ile. I would probably not submit below median either (she has strong GPA/Rigor), but would look for guidance in virtual admissions sessions.

As always, others may have different opinions. What does your D’s GC say?

She just got the score today so we haven’t asked her GC yet but she will reach out. I

Does she need merit scholarships to attend? What’s her major? Admission averages vary between some majors.

I think advice here is good. Above the median send it. Below the median, not sure it’s worth it.

Not sure if the median score from the past years is highly relevant. Typically, kids take SAT/ACTs a few times (and superscoring can make a big difference). This year, many of them have only one shot, so the median scores likely will be lower than in the past. Do schools take it into consideration???

I would submit that score to Fordham. Don’t know enough about the others to offer advice.

Another question: on Naviance, you can look at both the national medians and your school’s medians, which in our case, can be different. Do colleges compare applicants from each school to each other, or from other schools and regions?

It is relevant to the AOs on the many webinars I have listened to in the last 6 months.

We just don’t know if scores will be lower, or not…they could be higher because:

-Stronger students tend to test earlier, and may have had a test (or 2 or 3) completed prior to the pandemic

-Students with scores higher than prior year median are the only ones submitting. I have heard many AOs say only submit if you are at median or above.

@Mwfan1921 beat me to it. It could be higher averages because of self-selection due to test optional. Only kids with higher scores could be reporting.

I would still use previous medians. That’s all you have. Do AO’s think they’ll get an influx of under or over qualified applicants this year? Will we see app numbers go up at the Ivies because many think it’s a more level playing field?

BTW, Fordham was definitely one of S20’s favorites because of Gabelli. I liked it too. RH campus is in the Bronx if that matters. We walked off campus during the day and enjoyed the area, especially the food in the Italian section. That said, I could see where there could be concern after dark.

NYU is a fine too but there’s not very much of a campus. You could literally walk by it and not really notice.

These comments sound rational. My twins are seniors. Their current SAT scores (first attempt) fit the median for their “safety schools”. Let us see if they can improve their scores.

Fwiw, the advice I’ve read (and given) here is to submit if it’s above the midpoint (which you can approximate as the mean of the 25th and 75th, if not given). I can’t say I’ve seen a recommendation to submit if it’s in the range - i.e. exactly matches the 25th percentile.

When you say 1 point below the middle 50%, you mean 1 point below the 25th percentile number? Or below the middle of the 25-75% range.

I would certainly not submit the former, and probably not the latter.

We’ve been looking at Naviance, which gives the mid 50% both nationally and for our school. We’ve gotten the advice to focus on the range for our school, and that colleges use that metric rather than comparing to students from other areas or regions. Let’s say the middle 50% range is 28 - 32. She has a 29. So the mid-point, then, is 30. Is it worth it to send a 29 in that scenario? Seems like the answer is no? Her GPA and rigor is high, so would the 29 bring her down, or would they think she’s in the ballpark?

Just one person’s opinion but based on the colleges she is applying to, the only one I would submit a 29 to is Fordham, and maybe University of Washington. Her ACT score seems a little low for someone with 9 APs and and almost 3.9 unweighted GPA.

The good news is that most colleges going test optional will actually help your student this year than in year’s past, where she would have had to submit the “low” ACT no matter what.

I’d probably say no, unless there’s a split that favors her major. I.e., if she’s applying to a STEM major and scored 32 on Math and Science and 26/27 on English and Reading, I might submit anyway.

It’s so hard to know. We are still waiting on our D21’s SAT scores but will be going through this exercise soon enough. She’s in the top ten percent for weighted GPA at our competitive large public school. When I look at our school profile, more than 10 percent of the kids score higher than a 1480 so, even if her score is the median for any given college, if it’s below 1480, I don’t know if we will send. AOs can look at our school profile and maybe assume that she didn’t get to test or only tested once and would have likely scored 1480 or above if it was a normal year. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t know if it’s the right move to send a score that lowers the profile of the student. With D’s GPA and rigor, she’s a strong candidate. Adding a middling SAT does not help, it hurts.

Just something to consider.

I agree. It’s a bummer because she was supposed to take it last April and as we all know, the test kept getting cancelled until she finally got a spot in September, but not even at our school, which wasn’t offering it. It really thwarted her momentum, all the stopping and starting over the summer. At one point, we were going to drive 3 hours to another state to take it – that’s how much she wanted to take it – but that got cancelled. She’s a very well-rounded student, 4 year varsity athlete, sports writer for the newspaper, lots of community service, work outside school, and her academics. I just hope that schools are honest when they say the students won’t be penalized if they don’t send a score.