Math vs. Verbal

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: August 2003 Archive: Math vs. Verbal
By Jrc007 (Jrc007) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 10:49 pm: Edit

It seems like so many people on these boards have higher math scores than verbal scores on the SAT I. Likewise, it seems that most colleges' 25/75 range SAT I scores also have a higher 25th percentile score in math than verbal. I realize that a possible reason for this may be a large number of students whose first language is not English taking the exam, but my question is that since I got a 1490 SAT I score: 800 in verbal, but 690 in math, will that hurt me significantly at top 25 schools? It seems that math scores matter so much more than verbal scores do; looking at the stats of people that were admitted, it's okay to get a 6** in verbal as long as you get above a 750 in math, but there are very few people whose situations are the other way around. Does verbal matter that much in the eyes of the adcoms in comparison with math for people whose first language is English? If my score was 800 math, 690 verbal instead, would that significantly increase my chances at, say, Yale, Northwestern, Penn, etc.? Sorry about the long post, any help appreciated. Thanks!

By Fairyofwind (Fairyofwind) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 10:56 pm: Edit

Absolutely not. Statistically, there are fewer people that receive 800s in verbal than in math. Be proud of your 800 in verbal. If anything, that's more competitive than the 800 in math--especially with the # of science/math nerds nowadays in abundance. Maybe not so good for MIT/Caltech, but a definite advantage for most colleges with a comprehensive/liberal arts program.

By Sac (Sac) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 11:30 pm: Edit

Also, reading comprehension and vocabulary are essential skills in college, no matter what your major. Many humanities majors never take another math or quantitative course again after high school. Congratulations on your 800 verbal.

By Jrc007 (Jrc007) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 11:32 pm: Edit

Thank you both very much for your reassurance, it certainly makes me feel better!

Do you think what you said holds true for schools like Yale, Northwestern, Penn, Cornell, WUStL, etc.? I never really had any desire to go to MIT or Caltech, but I do want to major in biology/biopsychology/premed. Hopefully the math score won't do me in. At least biology isn't considered one of the "hard sciences"!

By Sac (Sac) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 11:41 pm: Edit

Are you considering retaking them? If so, the question really would be do you think you can do better on the math. If not, your scores are certainly in line with a lot of the schools on your list.

By Jrc007 (Jrc007) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 11:57 pm: Edit

I don't really want to retake them, I've taken them twice already and 1490 is my combined score.

First time: 1460--770 Verbal/690 Math

Second Time: 1470--800 Verbal/670 Math

Plus, I have yet to take the SAT IIs, which I'm doing in October. I don't think I can fit the SATs in again before Yale EA, plus I'm just plain tired of throwing money at the College Board and sick of preparing for and taking the tests. I feel that even if I did improve my math score to, say, the low 700s, would it really improve my chances a marked amount? I mean, would it really make that much of a difference between getting into Yale or Northwestern, etc. or not? (I probably still wouldn't, lol.) Anyway, I wish the colleges that I want to apply to could look at my score as a 1490, not as two scores 110 points apart. Too bad I couldn't have gotten 740/750!

Thank you all for your help, and any added input is welcome!

By Zingares (Zingares) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 12:42 am: Edit

Is it just me or does the verbal section seem a lot harder in comparison to the math. I mean the math is just Alg 1, Geo, and bit Alg 2. But the words they throw around in the verbal seem to be of a much higher level compared to the math. Maybe its just because im good at math and suck at vocab.

By Thecurious1 (Thecurious1) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 12:30 pm: Edit

Ok here's the way I see it. The majors you want to pursue don't require too much math. I don't see a bio/bio-psych/biomed major doing differential equations, analysis theories, etc. in his/her course of study. BUT one could certainly use "verbal" skills while reading those large volumes of books and analyzing concepts.

I hope that blows some dust off of your light bulb! You already have shown that you're above average in math. Plus you can try to show you are "good" at it in any of your SAT 2's. That is to say you're going to take a math SAT 2 and you actually are really good at it. Even if you don't take SAT 2, you don't need to sweat over this issue. Good luck.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 12:51 pm: Edit

bio is actually a "hard" science as opposed to psych, soc, cultural anthro, which are considered"soft".
( funny way to explain difference- physics,chem, bio labs require approved shoes- psych labs don't)
My daughters SAT scores were if I member correctly 590M 780 V. She was accepted to all her schools and is a Bio major at Reed college, which has the best record for percentage of bio majors who recieve Ph.ds.
I think schools take things into consideration besides test scores and as far as predicting how you will do in college, a high verbal would be preferable to high M

By Folk_Hero (Folk_Hero) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 06:32 pm: Edit

That's my exact situation (800v, 690m), but I'm happy with my score. I think what the CB does amounts to monopoly and extortion, so screw them. I hope that it shows that I'm way above average in one field, not "pretty good" in two. The only thing is, it lowers my AI, so I'll never be an academic 8 or 9 auto-admit to an Ivy.

By Greenmoo04 (Greenmoo04) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 06:39 pm: Edit

Personally, I believe Math is easier than Verbal, even though I do better in Verbal than Math. I don't think it really matters which is higher, as long as your composite score is high, you're good. Then again, there's a lot of math nerds out there that score ridiculously high on the Math portion, I think being good at Math shows your ability to think logically, whereas Verbal teaches you to think creatively? (Besides the damn analogies of course), It's just that there's always those last two choices that sound right in Verbal, whereas Math is either right or wrong. Maybe it's just me though.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 06:51 pm: Edit


To illustrate how subjective the SAT is, I think that it helps to think creatively in math and apply strong logic in the verbal sections. Lots of the math problems require to think out-of-the-box -at least for quick solutions- while the verbal tests do not require you to look for extraneous elements.

Oh, a last point, if you end up with two possible answers very often, you may want to tone down the creativity. Quite often overthinking equates to doom on the SAT :)

By Haan (Haan) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 08:58 pm: Edit

Jrc: Colleges love if u have higher verbal than math

By Jrc007 (Jrc007) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 10:48 pm: Edit

Folk Hero: According to AI, I'm an 8 (pending my SAT II scores come out the way I think they will, I entered 800 for writing, 750 for Bio M and 680 for Math IIc (hopefully Bio M--got a 5 on the AP exam, so expecting over 730--and Math IIc will be better--that College Board math always gets me--but who knows), so why does the 690 preclude you?

By Folk_Hero (Folk_Hero) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 11:22 pm: Edit

Sigh... My SAT II's were 800, 800, and 790, and my GPA is 3.4, but my class rank sucks. Mostly my fault -- I screwed up sophomore year after I moved. Also, my school gives weird percentiles instead of rank. And if it's outdated (that was fast...Hernandez's book is cprt 1997 but has 2001 data in it) I'm glad. It didn't help me much.

By Jrc007 (Jrc007) on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 11:35 pm: Edit

I'm taking my SAT IIs in October, so my estimates are only educated guesses (with a dose of realism, I tried to understimate except on the writing.)

Which ones did you take, Folk Hero?

By Folk_Hero (Folk_Hero) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 05:26 pm: Edit

I took writing, world history, and literature. As I later discovered, world and lit are considered hard, so the curve is easier. I've heard it's easier to score well on Math IIC than on IC for the same reason. I found them to be a lot easier than the Barrons practice tests. Good luck on yours! You'll do well!

By Shari (Shari) on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 08:05 am: Edit

I had an 800v and 730m and thought it was good enough to not take it again. One Sat was enough, lol! I was a little worried about the difference between the two but all the colleges I applied to accepted me and offered scholarships (and I had some *serious* class issues due to illness). They weren't ivy but they were all good liberal arts colleges and since each offered the highest scholarship available, they obviously didn't have a problem with the disparity.
Hope this reassures you!

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 08:36 am: Edit

To Jrc....I would not worry with your scores. They are in the right ballpark for the schools you are interested in, particularly as a sum total of V and M combined. Doing that high on the verbal WILL look good. I just want to say that I have a daughter also applying EA to Yale and she has similar scores but opposite from you....780M and 690V. She is pleased with this 1470 and feels it puts her into the pool just fine. Scores are not everything but do count. A score like that combined with other strong things like GPA, rank, ECs, and essays is good enough. Do not fret your score, as that factor you have is good. I do not know your other stats but these scores should hold well as long as your other stats and attributes are also very good. She is planning to go into architecture, so in a way, math is more important than verbal, not that they may weigh that heavily your intended major.

Good luck to you guys. If I were you, feel positive on your scores, do well on SAT2s coming up, and put together an awesome application!

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