Go with the single sitting or try for combined total?

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Discus: SAT/ACT Tests and Test Preparation: April 2004 Archive: Go with the single sitting or try for combined total?
By Lyralily (Lyralily) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 11:31 am: Edit

I've only taken the SAT I once, and I got a 800 verbal, 680 math. I can't do any better on the verbal (heh), and I'm not sure whether or not I could go up on the math (it's possible, maybe, but I'd have to study). I'm in my junior year, so it's not like I have that much time left anyway.

What I want to know is:

Do colleges have an preference in terms of how many times someone takes the SAT? (In other words, would they appreciate someone who only took the test once?)

And should I bother retaking if I'm not sure I could pull my score up (but would sort of like to try)?

By Gmf05 (Gmf05) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 11:39 am: Edit

Since SAT scores are only a small piece of an application, it's not going to win one person over another (unless you're talking 1300 vs 1600.) Your score is kind of in a gray area. It's very good and you don't need to retake, but retaking it wouldn't look desparate if you just have to. It's really up to you, though I'd say if you decide to retake make sure you know you can get an 800 math (and don't let your verbal slip a bunch.)

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 02:43 pm: Edit


I really do not want to offend you, so understand the extent of my answer.

It really depends on the school you plan on attending. If you pay close attention to the admission statistics of highly selective schools and reports of CC students, it is undeniable that a high score does help. There are plenty of students who have gained admission with a "slightly" lower SAT but they had compelling hooks in addition to their scores. If you plan to apply to the HYPS of this world, you SHOULD retake it without hesitation. WHY?

1. Except for very few schools (for instance, UC system, and public universities in Texas), the vast majority of the schools do not only accept the highest individual scores but also ENCOURAGE multiples sittings. The objective is to have your HIGHEST combined score on the front of the folder.

2. Except for a few anecdotal and UNVERIFIED references, the evidence supports that elite schools do NOT frown on multiples sittings. On the other hand, there are PLENTY of reports of students who were accepted at their dream schools after taking the test 4-5 times. There is no penalty for multiple sittings. Think about it: IF the colleges wanted single scores, it would be very easy for them to implement policies that penalize multiple scores, but they simply do not do it!

3. Your 800 verbal is grandfathered. No further scores will dilute that result. Period!

4. It is much easier to increase your math score. If you were able to score close to 700, it shows that you know the material. Additional practices will raise your overall awareness of the tests and propel your score closer to the perfect 800. Mastering a few techniques and shortcuts might very well make the difference. The math portion of the SAT1 is much more predictable than the verbal, and accordingly easier to prepare for.

5. In some cases, the difference is more subtle. For instance a 750V/730M also totals 1480 but BOTH scores are in the HYPS range. Your verbal score is wonderful and is a true bonus for HYPS, since it is much harder to obtain than a 800M. However, a sub 700 score -or sub 750 for that matter- drops you in a category of students that is ranked lower.

By Ericng314 (Ericng314) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 04:41 pm: Edit

Does this post apply to Columbia College too :) the Ivy? Would some people take their SATs like 20 times

By Lyralily (Lyralily) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 10:54 am: Edit

Thank you Xiggi. Great, informative post. Now I'll definitely consider taking a few more practices and taking the test again. ^_^

By Billiam2 (Billiam2) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 11:50 am: Edit

I didn't write this, but this person expresses my thoughts, just more eloquently.

"Let's think about this for a second. Typically, the average applicant at an Ivy has an SAT around 60 points below the SAT of the average matriculant. That isn't a huge difference, but it is enough that one might think SAT has a major role.

However, SAT is correlated with GPA and EC's. The people who have 1500+ SAT's often have very high GPA and often great EC's. The result is that an adcom could ignore SAT totally, going solely on GPA and EC's, and still end up with a class that has a high SAT.

The book about Duke put this in perspective. At Duke, the adcoms read everything in the file first, forming an opinion about the applicant, and the very last thing they see is the SAT. My impression from reading the book was that the SAT generally confirmed the impression they had of a top applicant. There wasn't one single case in the book where they loved the applicant but the SAT was too low.

Does this mean SAT is irrelevant? No. One can certainly imagine a case where the applicant had a great GPA and EC's but a lousy SAT (we had a guy like that here a couple years ago, who had top credentials except for an 1190 SAT, and Dartmouth took him). But those are rare.

At some colleges, a high SAT is still rare and can be worth a great deal. The book about Wesleyan mentioned a girl with a 1560 but a class rank in the 3rd decile who was admitted to several colleges (but none in the top 10). "

taken from Princeton Review message board.

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