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Articles / Applying to College / Should Son With Perfect ACT Score Submit SAT, Too?

June 29, 2009

Should Son With Perfect ACT Score Submit SAT, Too?

Question: My daughter just went through the college application process and will be attending Harvard in September. I don't know how prevalent this is, but she took the ACT and SAT (one time each), scored a 34 and 2230 respectively, and submitted both scores with her college applications.

My son, who is a rising junior, took the ACT in early June and just learned he scored a 36. Even though colleges say they don't care which test kids take, are highly selective colleges looking for both tests? Is more data better? Or is less more?


It sounds like neither of your kids is a slouch in the academic department, eh? Whether it's nature or nurture, I hope you're taking at least some of the credit. ;)

Here's my advice for your son: There is no need for him to take the SAT I (Reasoning Test) if he has not done so already. In fact, I would suggest that he NOT take it, since there's nowhere to go but down, after a perfect ACT. But he should take the SAT II (Subject Tests).

Some of the highly selective colleges that require the Subject Tests will allow students to submit an ACT score in place of BOTH the SAT I and the SAT II. However, at the so-called "elite" schools, your son will be "competing" with applicants who have submitted multiple Subject Tests and who have shown off top scores in a range of academic areas including those that the ACT doesn't really cover. So, a combination of a strong ACT score and two or three strong Subject Test scores, especially in history, foreign language and/or science, would be a wise approach. Unless your son takes a stab at the Subject Tests and doesn't do really well, my advice would be for him to submit the ACT plus SAT Subject Tests to all his target college.

Of course, if he already took the SAT I and his scores are very strong as well (even if not perfect) he should certainly feel free to send them, too. Moreover, some of the most selective colleges now claim to "require" applicants to send all test scores, regardless of the College Board's new "Score Choice" option (which is a good reason for him NOT to try the SAT I, if he hasn't already.)

Personally, I'm a big fan of "Less is More," but this college process often leaves too little room for that philosophy!

Good luck to your son ... and to you as you navigate this maze (again).

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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