What do SAT II scores mean?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: What do SAT II scores mean?
By Minormajor (Minormajor) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 09:45 am: Edit

Can someone explain what a "good" SAT II score is? I am hearing all kinds of conflicting information. Plus the percentiles make a 740 look bleak.

By Drusba (Drusba) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

It depends on college to which you apply although most that require SAT II's (many of your highly ranked colleges) would consider anything from 700 or above as in the range desired. Percentiles are not important for II's. Demonstration of proficiency in the subject is (which 700 or above easily does). Percentiles are skewed because the group of people taking the test are students who are more likely than not to score very high. The real difference in knowledge of the subject matter between an 800 and a 700 is miniscule to none.

By Minormajor (Minormajor) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:12 am: Edit

Is a 650 in writing a poor score for SAT II?

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:37 am: Edit

The average score in writing is 600. So a 650 is above average. Do keep in mind that it is the top kids who tend to take SAT2s as most colleges do not require them whereas nearly everyone needs to take SAT1s to get into college, so the scores are geared that way. Most colleges do not give out their averages for the subject tests.

Different colleges use the SAT2s differently. At some schools they are so important that the test scores are reported on a 4000 basis rather than a 1600 basis. So a poor SAT1 score can be mitagated by great SAT2s and vice versa.

Where SAT2 scores can be very important is if your child goes to a school that is not on the radar screen of the college considering her. Without a clear picture of the curriculum and makeup of the students, it is difficult to gauge what she has learned. Say, there are no AP courses either, or just in Senior year, and it is really difficult to come up with what those grades mean. Straight A's with 700s in a variety of SAT2s is one thing, the same grades with SAT2s in the 500 range makes a college wonder if the student is prepared academically to take a heavy college load. A French rec saying the kid is fluent and the best the teacher has seen takes a different color if the French SAT2 is lousy. On the other hand, if the kid comes from a well known school, it is not as important as the adcoms can assess the kid with the transcript and SAT1 scores more easily. Homeschoolers are generally asked to take 5 SAT2s so that some comparision with others in subject achievement can be made.

By Schoolmarm (Schoolmarm) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 12:06 pm: Edit

"What's a good SAT II score?"
At most of the information sessions we attended, the admissions officer indicated that targeted SAT II scores parallel SAT I scores. In other words, if the median math/verbal SAT I score for a particular school is 700, the school looks for SAT II scores in the range of upper-600's to low-700's.
SAT IIs serve as an equalizer w/r/to varying high school grading systems. For example, if Student A consistently earns A+'s at school, but scores in the low 600's on all SAT II's, one might reasonably wonder if A's school suffers from grade inflation.

By Minormajor (Minormajor) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 12:57 pm: Edit

My son got 740 Physics, 740 Level 2 Math (even though he had only taken up to Precal at the time) and a 640 in writing. I think he was worn out by the time he took the writing because he took 3 the same day. He did get a 5 on his AP English test so I am hoping the colleges might look past the 640 but who knows. I am really encouraged by the statement about SAT IIs reflecting what is learned as compared to grades in class.

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 01:09 pm: Edit

Minormajor -
I read your other thread on GPA. My son is in a similar situation, but luckily woke up junior year. I think that your son might consider retaking the Writing in November or December. If he is applying to schools where he is 'quantified' into a number, the SAT II and SAT's will be more likely to count in the formula. Certainly the 5 in his AP course is great - but he needs to make the cut for it to matter. BTW, Writing is typically administered first - he may not have been awake all the way.

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