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Articles / Preparing for College / Should Applicant Send SAT Scores When Math is High but Verbal Isn't?

Sept. 11, 2020

Should Applicant Send SAT Scores When Math is High but Verbal Isn't?

Should Applicant Send SAT Scores When Math is High but Verbal Isn't?

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I have a question about SAT scores. My son had the chance to take the SAT twice, which I know is a luxury right now. Both times, his English was significantly lower than his math (English was in the mid 500s, Math was in the high 700s). So his composite score is over 1300, which is above the median at most of his goal schools, but we aren't sure if he should send it since they'll see how low the English was. Should we send a score that shows he's not strong in English? His planned major is business and all of his schools are test optional.


First a disclaimer: "The Dean" feels it's not entirely responsible to respond to this question without knowing a lot more about your son's overall profile or about his specific college goals. But, even so, I'll forge ahead.

Because your son's math SAT is strong — probably well above his target colleges' medians for math — and because he's interested in a business major (where quantitative skills are valued), it makes sense for him to submit his test scores despite the less impressive English results.

Although his score on that portion of the test may be below his colleges' midpoints, the number is still sufficiently strong so that it won't raise any flags suggesting that your son might struggle with Reading and Writing. So, my advice is for your son to send his SAT scores as long as the total of Math + Verbal doesn't put him below a college's median.

Admission issues like this one can indeed be confusing, and I wish you luck with with the additional confusion that's likely still to come!

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

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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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