Test Optional Policies & Submitting SAT for Acceptance vs Chasing Merit

Some say to only submit your SAT score if you fall within the middle 50% range for that school. Others say, only submit if you fall above the 50% range. I assume this is for acceptance purposes.

What if the student is chasing merit? Should they only submit SAT scores if they are near the very top (75% or above)? For example, my D21 GPA (3.93UW/4.44W), rank, rigor, essay, EC/s are all very strong but her SAT is from Soph year. Its not awful but we missed chances to improve it. Depending on the schools on her list, she may be near the bottom, the middle or the top range for SAT. We are trying to figure out when to submit and when not to especially because we would like to be considered for merit.

Do the guidelines change if you are applying to a state flagship vs large private? EA vs RD?

The last line of your original post gets to the crux of the matter: except for those schools with automatic merit awards based on SAT/ACT and GPA, the merit scholarship process, especially at already-selective schools, is extremely holistic. IMO, at selective schools, as long as your ACT/SAT is in the 50th percentile range, submit and hope for the best. :smile:

Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!

Just saw the last question: Yes, applying EA, at some schools like Tulane, is necessary to be considered for the full-tuition/ride scholarships. Tulane’s Director of Admission said in a blog post IIRC that there are different scholarship funding pools for EA vs. ED vs. RD. ALWAYS apply EA if you’re able to, IMO. :smile:

Hope that helps!

@PikachuRocks15 what would i do without all your wonderful wisdom? Thank you.

So aside from the auto merit schools, do you think submitting if 50% or higher applies to both private or public? Even a state flagship?

@stacysmom21 No problem! I would say yes, but that is merely my opinion. I will note that large state universities TEND (not all, and especially not the selective ones) to use GPA/SAT/ACT matrices or minimum scores due to a large influx of applicants from year to year, but as your daughter’s application as a whole is strong, a score in-range wouldn’t do anything but help her application. Private schools tend to do a more holistic review, but again, it’s definitely due to the relatively smaller applicant pool and a review process with more nuances. :smile:

Hope that helps!

I would submit a score in the top 50% to a public flagship. We talk about test optional on these boards, but some colleges, including Purdue (a flagship) are actually “test flexible”, which means that they prefer to see a score, but understand if you don’t have one. There is a subtle difference, in that test flexible implies they prefer to see a score and there could be an advantage to submitting one.

Read what each college has to say about it on their admissions requirements web page, and make a decision from there.

To make things even more challenging, this particular schools shows a mid 50% range on the CDS for 2019-20 of 1240-1400, but on their website they state that their admitted Class of 2024 50% range is 1310-1460. Thats a HUGE jump. Does that sound correct?

That is a pretty big jump…did anything change between years? Did they go Test optional for class of 2024?

Also it’s best to use admitted student ranges if you can find those (check the school’s website and the student newspaper), rather than the enrolled student numbers on the CDS. Admitted student test ranges are often higher than enrolled, especially at more selective schools.

Using that mid-50% range you have to interpolate to get to the median, and only submit a test score at, or above, the median. Generally, do not submit a test score below the median. In your example above for class of 2024, 1310 is the 25%ile, so one would not submit that score.

@Mwfan1921 I agree, but until recently we were going by the 2019-20 CDS range in which she would have been 50%. Glad I checked their website. They do not explain the big jump. I dont think class of 2024 was TO?

Perhaps you really mean opaque rather than holistic. Merit scholarships that are not automatic for stats may be awarded holistically or not, but there is often very little information about how difficult they are to get (and high school Naviance or similar is usually used to track admission but not scholarships). Also, it is possible for various reasons that the college increases or decreases the number of scholarships or the amounts, and what student characteristics they target compared to previous years without announcing those changes.

Case in point’s USC.

Class of 2024 Profile: https://admission.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/Freshman-Profile.pdf

Yep, for merit scholarships, bar what’s posted on the website, no one knows for certain what they’re looking for but Admissions, and WHAT they’re looking for likely varies from year to year depending on institutional priorities.

So apply widely and hope for the best @stacysmom21 ! :smile:

Also look at the median ACT scores and see if they match the SAT median. Some schools get more ACT than SAT scores or more SAT scores from a particular region. A higher score average could be self-selection.

What school?


You are comparing enrolled student data from the 19/20 CDS (1240-1400) to admitted class of 2024 (1320-1460). It is a dramatic difference, and is because some students with higher test scores choose not to enroll, e.g., they were using UGA as a safety (Class of 2023 yield, which is the number of admitted students who chose to enroll was around 40%, so 60% of the admitted students went elsewhere for college, or didn’t go to college)

So, use Class of 2024 admitted numbers to make your decision about sending test scores. Also ask your GC, if they are helpful.

19/20 CDS: https://oir.uga.edu/external_reports/cds/

Class of 2024 profile from Red and Black: https://www.redandblack.com/uganews/uga-admits-13-131-students-to-class-of-2024/article_e0533956-6987-11ea-8c53-b73e27d28f43.html

This article says the admitted SAT mid-50% has been similar for a couple of years: https://www.redandblack.com/uganews/uga-class-of-2024-accepted-at-lowest-rate-in-10-years/article_bd341e1e-71ec-11ea-a42a-5fdcc08a9f75.html

OK thank you. Shouldn’t enrolled matter more?

Where can I find admitted data for class of 2024 for other schools? School website or is there a place where they can all be found?

So you are saying to not go by the CDS? Thats what I was told to do. Thank you again.

@stacysmom21 usually admitted #s will be in their marketing materials for prospective students. Are you OOS for UGA? D20 and several OOS high stat kids we know applied, were accepted into honors college, but the merit scholarships came back too low to make it at least comparable to their in-state options. For reference, she was 4.0/4.6/35 ACT. The others had similar stats; they were all SC and NC students. Anecdotal of course, but many from the region apply, but don’t attend unless they receive one of the competitive scholarships. High stat students in GA are usually also applying to GATech, in SC they usually also apply to USC or Clemson, in NC they usually also to NCSU and UNC. Since they have great in-state options, it doesn’t make sense to attend a higher cost OOS flagship, but they do drive up the admitted stats. Personally, I would look at admitted #s to be safe, if looking for merit. That’s purely just opinion. Just remember some flagships are test optional for admissions, but not for merit consideration. Good luck!

Admitted is better than enrolled, because those mid-50% test scores are representative of the total applicant pool that UGA chose to admit. That’s what is most relevant to a prospective applicant.

Use the enrolled CDS numbers if that’s all you can find.

Tigerwife makes a good point about OOS vs In-state too…maybe ask UGA admissions or institutional reporting depts if they have the numbers you are looking for (admitted test score ranges broken out by in vs out of state)

Thank you. Also good point about TO for merit vs acceptance. I suppose i should look more into that but I haven’t seen it referenced on the UGA page…