Yale RD

What about applying for YALE without subject tests due to financial reasons?

The answer is on the Yale website: https://admissions.yale.edu/standardized-testing#Recommended

Still hard to believe.

It’s true.

I attended a presentation by 5 admissions officers - representatives from Harvard, Wellesley, Princeton, UVA, and Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergrad admissions from Yale. During the Q&A portion of the evening, a student asked whether ‘recommended’ on the subject tests actually meant ‘required’.

The lady from Harvard said that it meant ‘required unless you have a good reason not to take them’.

Quinlan disagreed. He said (paraphrasing from memory) that a good score on a subject test was a positive point for an application, but the absence of scores was not a negative so long as you had other things in your application to support the notion that you were academically strong enough to handle the work at Yale. There were plenty of other ways to prove academic readiness. The Princeton, Wellesley and UVA reps agreed.

I have heard AOs say this too. Not having the tests might not be a negative, yet good scores are a ‘positive point’ for applicants with them…and the fact is that many of those applicants also have apps that ‘support the notion they are academically strong enough’ to do the work PLUS they have the subject test scores.

So, maybe not technically a negative for the applicant who doesn’t have it, but there is still a plus or ‘positive point’ that is missing. Said differently, many of the applicants with good subject test scores are advantaged, because they have another ‘positive point’ in their app.

When you have a finite number of admission slots, and having good subject test scores is a positive, it necessarily follows that having bad scores or no scores is a negative. Not necessarily fatal, but it is a negative. It reminds me of when you hear AO’s claim with a straight face that, while it’s not easier to get in ED, it is harder to get in RD.

I interpret the comment to mean that there’s an academic threshold to meet, and many ways of meeting it, one of which is subject test scores. But that once you’ve met that threshold, more isn’t synonymous with better.

Regardless of what an college or AO says or does not say, I’m at a loss why an applicant to a college with a 94% rejection rate would not try to put together the best application possible when fee waivers are available. It’s one thing, IMO, if one takes the tests and is not satisfied with the scores. But to not even try? And I won’t buy lack of time as an acceptable answer; the other 40K applicants also have a lot on their collective plates. :open_mouth:

“I interpret the comment to mean that there’s an academic threshold to meet, and many ways of meeting it, one of which is subject test scores.”

I get what you’re saying, but any applicant who Yale is seriously considering accepting will have met and surpassed that threshold (through GPA, ACT/SAT scores, academic rigor, academic awards and honors, LOR’s etc …) without the need for any confirmation from subject test scores. If, as the Dean claims, the SAT 2 is just one way of meeting a threshold that has already been met five different ways, as a practical matter, it’s not really much of a positive after all.

From the adcom’s perspective, there’s no difference between “didn’t even try” and “took the test and wasn’t satisfied with the scores.” In both cases, they see nothing.

Scenario where I can see the subject test score making a difference: Kid has a C in a particular class, where all other grades are A. Kid also has an 800 on the subject test related to that class, taken in June of the same year. To me, that says “that grade doesn’t reflect that kid’s mastery of the material” better than anything else.

Scenario where I can see the subject test score making no difference: Kid has an unweighted 4.0, NMSF, AP Scholar, single-sitting 800/800 and 36/36/36/36. That kid is clearly really good at taking standardized tests.

The reality is that most strong applicants are going to fall somewhere in the middle, and reasonable people can agree to disagree as to where the tipping point lies. The idea that there is no tipping point is what leads to people planning to retake a 780 on Math2, or to take the language test for their native tongue, thinking that either of those will boost their chances.

If a student “didn’t even try” on the Subject Tests, I would posit that it is not the first and only example. Whether the AO “sees” this through the recs or somewhere else in the application is another question.

@skieurope I feel this is a really good point.