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Articles / Preparing for College / Will Perfect Verbal Score Make Up for Lower Math SAT?

March 10, 2003

Will Perfect Verbal Score Make Up for Lower Math SAT?

Question: I am in 10th grade and have a question about my SAT's. Will a very high verbal score (800) overshadow a lowish math score (620)?

A perfect 800 always makes admission folks sit up and take notice, and it certainly will have some clout when it comes to overshadowing a weaker math number. However, keep in mind that, if you are applying to the most competitive colleges, you will be up against many contenders who have high scores in both areas of the SAT.


Of course, colleges look at many other factors as well, and even applicants who are “dialing toll-free” (that is, perfect 800’s on their verbal and math scores) will be turned away from the top schools, if there aren't plenty of other outstanding accomplishments on their records. In other words, scores like yours (math included) are certainly in the ballpark everywhere, but only if they are accompanied by additional unique achievements, great grades, tough courses, and memorable recommendations.

Finally, you are only a sophomore, so you can expect that your math score will climb, assuming, of course, that your math career isn't already over.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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