SAT 2 "Recommended"

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: SAT 2 "Recommended"
By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:16 pm: Edit

My daughter has done a realistic college search, and has picked out a few schools she'll apply to shortly. Based on her SAT 1 scores, GPA, etc. she will be in the top 25% of the entering class for any of her choices.

A few of these schools recommend, but don't require, that applicants submit SAT 2 scores. She doesn't particularly want to take the SAT 2's, but will if she has to.

Does anyone have any insight into whether not taking the SAT 2's will hurt her admission chances, given that her SAT 1's are already very good for these particular schools?

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:25 pm: Edit

Montmammoth, it really depends on the schools. There are some schools out there that are not safeties or matches for anyone even though a students stats will put them in a range where they should be. The overall select percentage and the qualifications of those not accepted is what makes those school super reeaches even if your stats are well in the upper 10%,heck, even if they are perfect. So if we are talking about a school that skirts around those kinds of numbers, then, not having the SAT2s will hurt. And it will also depend on what the applicant pool looks like this year and if your D has some outstanding reason for the school to take her other than her academics.

I suggest she send off the SAT numbers before taking the SAT2s to those schools where she does not need those numbers, and then send the SAT numbers to those schools who want them after the results of the SAT2s are on the record. She might even want to send just the SAT1s to one of her schools that recommend but don't require the SAT2s. Then she can sit back and see how things pan out and she does not have to worry as much about the Sat2s. I have had a few kids do this who were uncertain how those SAT2 numbers were going to be.

I know BC for EC does care if the SAT2s are in, though they do want them later for placement and for RD. I have seen kids get in there without the SAT2s enough times that I do believe they are without prejudice on that matter, but I don't know how other schools would view a file without the Sat 2s.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Sorry, last paragraph, I meant to say that Boston College does NOT care about SAT2s being in for EC though they do want them later even for those accepted for ED for course placement, and you need them for RD.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:33 pm: Edit

She may decide when it comes closer to application dates to apply to schools that require Sat 2's.
It is a good idea to have.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:39 pm: Edit

Sometimes the 25-75%, and even selectivity mask other things going on under the hood. I'm sure every school has examples, but the one I know is Smith. Looks like 50% admits, and 1200-1380 or so SATs. SAT IIs recommended. But then you look under the hood. 10% of the class are adult students (average age 36) who they actively recruit, with much higher admit rates (and likely lower SATs). 24.7% are Pell grant recipients - these are folks from the lowest 35% of the U.S. population economically, who Smith actively seeks out (and has been for more than two decades). They are (statistically) likely to have much lower SAT scores, and higher admit rates. Take just these two groups out of the equation, leaving the remaining 65%, and all of a sudden the SAT score range is 100-150 points higher, and admit rates are a third lower. Similar considerations occur when a school has a huge number of legacies, or a large percentage of recruited athletes.

Can't imagine many folks would "particularly want" to take standardized tests if they didn't have to. But chances are that if her SAT Is were fine, her SAT IIs will be as well. If it were me, I'd cover all the bases.

By Idler (Idler) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:21 pm: Edit

Those average SATs and 25%75% numbers seem to be very misleading. I agree with Mini, that for top schools, in the absence of 25%-75% figures for "unhooked" students (which we'll never see), you have to add 100 Sat points or more to get the real numbers.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 02:32 pm: Edit

And another consideration when looking at the SAT ranges: they don't tell you the breakdown between male and female SAT scores. I've done a bit of research on this by looking at the common data set for various schools and it's quite obvious that at many schools where there is a gender inbalance, males have a lower SAT median range than females. The difference in spread seems to grow along with the difference in male-female ratio - at a school where there's a 40/60 male/female split, the difference can be a hundred points or more in some cases. So, if your daughter is looking at any schools with an unbalanced ratio, it might be worth digging through the common data set (often available online) to see what the average SAT spread for females is. Doesnt tell the whole story but at least a part of it.

By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 03:16 pm: Edit

Thanks very much for your insights. I was aware of some male/female discrepancies, but didn't realize that some schools (like Smith) have large numbers of special case admissions.

I suppose it would have helped if I'd mentioned the schools. Her three favorites so far are William & Mary (and yes, I'm aware of the in state/out state difference there), Wake Forest & Davidson. If anyone has any specific insight into those, let me know.

Again, thanks very much for your comments.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 03:34 pm: Edit


That is an interesting element. I am wondering why this happens when we know that the SAT scores by females trail the males scores in both verbal (9 points in 2003) and math (34 points in 2003).

Could this mean that the strongest male candidates prefer to avoid schools that have a predominant female base?

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 03:38 pm: Edit

Has she taken the ACT?

By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 11:50 am: Edit

Has she taken the ACT?

No. She took the SAT once, early in her Junior year. When the scores put her in the range she thought she needed to be for her favorite schools, she didn't see any reason to take it again, or try the ACT.

I know scores are important, but they're only a part of the package. She's taking a full AP load in her senior year, and would rather devote her time to those classes and her ECs than take more tests, unless there's a real good reason for more tests. If you know of any, please let me know, I asked the question to tap our collective knowledge.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:21 pm: Edit

I just mentioned ACT because sending those would be a natural alternative, particularly for Davidson and Wake, they are Southern and wouldn't turn an eyelash at getting an ACT - W&M probably would accept it also, but I'm less sure.

Davidson is high on my daughter's list, so we've looked into it the most. It is quite selective, and I would counsel her to take the SATIIs if she sends in the SAT. I understand where you are, we laid down a rigorous program of test-taking last spring to avoid the situation you are facing, because that would have been DD's natural tendency as well.

If she really wants to go to Davidson or W&M, I would suggest she buy an ACT book, take a couple of the tests and see how she does (keeping in mind that the books are often harder than the test). If her trial score is comparable to her SAT scores, then maybe she can get by with one ACT sitting. If she wants to forge on with the SAT (and this actually makes more sense to me, it's just harder) she can take 2 subject tests in Oct and 1 or 2 in Nov. Even if she, for example wants to apply to Davidson early decision, and hasn't taken the Nov test, she can rush the Oct scores, and list the third score as pending with test date, and then rush it - that's where "just recommended" plays in her favor.

Remember the relentless test schedule I mentioned? Well, we didn't know any better, no one here even takes SATIIs (there were 6 kids total in DD's testing section) - she took 3 tests in one sitting, and was sick on top of it - don't do that! Spread them out, some kids started taking these sophomore year, after a particular class.

Of course, if your daughter is a val athlete with a 4.0 and 1600, blah, blah, congratulations, you must be extremely proud, and don't worry about anything I said.
Also, I don't really know, we're sweating through this ourselves, I can only tell you what I would want my child to do.
Best of luck, maybe they will be at Davidson together!

By Mattmom (Mattmom) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:49 pm: Edit

Davidson's acceptance rate for the class of 20008 was in the 25% range, much lower than the rate published even in 2005 Princeton Review, because of the year lag between reporting and publishing. It is becoming better known beyond the South, so probably will be as difficult to get into for 2009 applicants, if not more so. Hence taking whatever standardized tests woudl maximize her changes is probably the best course of action. The Davidson SAT I scores do look low, compared to schools such as Bowdoin (where SAT I is optional,) but I think Davidson is one of those schools where you might have to take a variety of factors into account, as some of the previous posters mentioned regarding Smith.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:53 pm: Edit


The differing criteria cuts both ways. The problem some schools face is that they get far more applicants from one gender or the other. Schools with low numbers of women, like CMU, will accept a greater percentage of women, will have lower admissions hurdles for women and corresponging lower averages. I see no great surprise here.

BTW, keep in mind that the small difference in population means is pretty irrelevant in this context, because the standard error of measurement for an individual is far greater than the population differences.

What I find more interesting than average score is that 3% of males and only 1% of females scored 750 or above in math. 6% of males and 3% of females scored in the range 700-749 in math. Those are differences!

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:25 pm: Edit

Xiggi - Massdad, as usual, is right on the money.
One additional factor, however, is that the number of males applying to 4-year colleges (and liberal arts colleges in particular) has apparently dropped over the past five years so there's an inbalance in gender when it comes to overall applications to begin with. For example, in 2003, 753,718 (54 percent) SAT takers werefemale and 652,606 (46 percent) were male according to the College Board. There has been some concern expressed in educational circles about just why this is so - no one seems to have a clear answer.

By Hubbellgardner (Hubbellgardner) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:44 pm: Edit

montmammoth: some Davidson insights from a current student, I will echo what mattmom said, the present statistics for getting accepted to Davidson is that for this years entering class the RD accept rate of 25% with average SAT score of 1360. For 'unhooked' students like myself, the average is closer to 1430. I did not want to submit my SAT 2 writing so chose to submit SAT 2 scores in 2 subjects rather then the 'recommended' 3, but it is clear that the Davidson adcom likes to see them, especially for non-athlete, not 'anyone special' applicants.

By Jnm123 (Jnm123) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:50 pm: Edit

My D has already taken the ACT, which is sufficient for 6 of the 7 schools to which she is applying.

But Boston University, specifically in the Sargent School of Health & Rehab Sciences, 'recommends' taking the Writing portion of the SAT II along with the mandatory SAT I or ACT. So wife & I will 'recommend' that D take it.

By Elizabeth22 (Elizabeth22) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 03:29 pm: Edit

Why is she opposed to taking them? If she pulled decent SAT I scores, there's no reason for her to not do well on SAT IIs with a bit of preparation. There's no good reason NOT to take them, so I'm not sure why she'd even consider it.

By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 04:47 pm: Edit

Cangel, Mattmom, Hub -

Thanks very much for the insights on Davidson. It looks like there may be a payoff to taking the 2's for them. BTW, if my D was a val athlete with 1600's I wouldn't be asking these questions, I'd be lighting up a big cigar, planning how she was going to support me in my old age. :-)

Hub - just a bit of clarification if you have the time. I assume that by "hooked" you mean an athlete, minority, etc? I'm just surprised that the difference in scores would be 70 points at a place as small as Davidson. I could see it at a school that recruited a large number of revenue sport athletes, but why is the disparity at Davidson so great? I'm not doubting, I'm just curious.

By Hubbellgardner (Hubbellgardner) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 04:52 pm: Edit

Davidson is one of the smallest colleges in the nation attempting to compete at the Division 1 level-hence a premium to find literate jocks to fill the teams, and yes, if you are not one of them(up to 25% of the student body), you had better be real smart.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 05:11 pm: Edit

Can I buy you some cigars?;)

By Coureur (Coureur) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 05:48 pm: Edit

My rule of thumb: If a school you want to attend "recommends" that you do something, DO IT.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 07:30 pm: Edit

I had not posted on this thread before but Coureur took the words right out of my mouth!

My oldest D's schools all required SAT2s so that was a nonissue. My younger one who is applying now, only has one school that asks for SAT2s. I thought they were required there and she took three in one day and is done. Since then, someone told me they were only recommended there, not required. I am speaking of NYU. Even if I had known they were just recommended, I would have had her take them because if a school is saying that, it means they prefer that. Why not do everything you can to help your chances, ya know?

And if your child did well on SATs, it stands to reason she will be in a similar ballpark with the SAT2s. My daughter did two practice tests for each of the three exams to prepare, that is it. We are talking of very little work that needs to be done, even though I realize a kid has demanding courses and ECs and all that jazz to deal with too. My D took them in June. It is not like she was dying to do it but you do what you gotta do. I don't know your kid's strengths but two of the tests, the writing one and the literature one, do not require a lot of preparation.

I thought someone above gave you good advice and mentioned to send the official score reports now of the SATs and then have your D take the SAT2s in October and if she likes the scores within reason, send those ahead and there you go. That way, if she is concerned that she will not do well on the SAT2s, she has not had to share those scores cause she will have had the SAT reports sent prior to that date. That leaves you an option out if the concern is over how well she will do.


By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:11 pm: Edit

Thanks, you've all been very helpful. It looks like there's a payoff for taking the tests, and thanks for the specific strategy tips.

She's not concerned about doing well on the 2's, it's just a time/energy thing. We all have to spend our time on things that we intrinsically enjoy or things that have a payoff.

I suppose too, that we might be a bit cavalier (I love that word, given my alma mater) about this. She thinks she'd be happy at any of these schools, and she has two safties lined up that she likes. SOMEBODY she likes will admit her without jumping through a lot of hoops.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:23 pm: Edit


By Reasonabledad (Reasonabledad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:48 pm: Edit

Xiggi - Try again. I'm always interested in your comments!

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