I am a rising senior planning on applying early action to Harvard. I took the ACT once in February and got a 35 composite and am 99th percentile. Score breakdown below:
The only score I am not sure about is the math score, although it is in the 96th percentile. I have been following the Harvard v. SFFA case and in the face of the current evidence against Harvard, am questioning whether retaking and getting a 36 may be countetproductive and show I am “privileged”. Also wondering if, in general, bringing up the math score will make any difference for admission to other prestigious universities, even though I do not plan on going into engineering at all.
I usually advise students with such a high score not to retake, especially as you have no plans to study engineering. What about stats, math, physics, chem, and the like? If those subject are in the cards, you could consider retaking to get a higher math sub score. BUT, you run the real risk of getting a lower composite score, which is not a risk I am sure is worth taking. Years ago, I read that up to 40% of high scorers will do worse on a retake, and that is not going to help your app.
I guess in your shoes I would consider your potential major. Other options could be trying the SAT 1 or 2, to show competency in math (31 is, of course, more than competitive.) Befor deciding though, check Harvard’s website and see if they require all test scores, or all sittings of the ACT or SAT.
Remember of course that the odds are not in your favor, so if yiu don’t get in, it’s highly unlikely that it will be due to a 31 in the math section of the ACT.
Will my math score affect me negatively for admission to other universities, for example if I apply to MIT ( but not for engineering)? In general, what is more important, the composite or individual scores?
What is the potential major? If STEM, yes, the math score is low. Same for any tippy top.
They look at subscores. But switching to a humanities major because you’re sub is higher there likely won’t fool them, if the ECs and other aren’t there.
My endgame is medical school, so not really sure yet. Maybe business or psychology, but definitely not just biology. Basically, the Major Groups I am currently considering are Humanities, social sciences, or biological sciences. Definitely avoiding physical sciences and math and statistics as a major.
Do not retake it. That would be a complete waste of your time. 35 is already a fantastic score that makes you more than qualified for any college in the US. I retook my SAT after getting a 1530, and the second time I got 50 points lower. It’s not worth retaking a standardized test once you get 34+ or 1500+.
@PhillyBale one of the Common App questions is possible future goals. If you show med school, the math sub might be an issue. Not because it’s terrible, it isn’t. But because the competition may have better records. A lot will depend on ECs, and nailing all the written portions, as H wants to see.
It’s a tough decision. Are all your grades strong (not just UW gpa) and rigorous courses? Can your GC advise?
I got the same composite score and 1 point higher on the math. And I’m a CS major. I got in.
Perhaps I’m an outlier, but I would say it’s unnecessary to retake.
I would send those scores and then retake. If the scores are better, send them. A lot of kids don’t take into consideration, that you can go down in the tests as well as up, and the higher your score, the more likely you’ll go down rather than up. Though math is one that can go up more easily with targeted study.
Interesting, thanks everyone for all your input. My academics are all perfect and very strong, (perfect UW Gpa, top 1% class rank out of about 800 at public school, very high weighted Gpa) and my ECs are also pretty strong. As for future goals, I probably won’t list medical school on the common app as that will probably not work to my advantage, will probably list something related to humanities. I am curious to know, however, how much SAT Subject Tests matter in admissions. I am taking them a second time as my scores for my first attempt were pretty poor, as I did not prepare enough.
What’s “pretty poor?” On CC and for tippy tops, we need a more complete picture. We also can’t comment on your ECs. Many kids get m ixed up about what makes “good” ECs, what the balance should be. You really need to get an idea of what H or other TTs look for
Don’t waste your time. Just write an essay that will make an admissions officer cry and kill the interview. Then go to church and pray