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Articles / Applying to College / Down Side of Keeping 7th-Grade SAT Scores?

Feb. 22, 2016

Down Side of Keeping 7th-Grade SAT Scores?

Question: I was trying to figure out how to post an “Ask the Dean" question, but I'm old and technologically disabled. 🙂Here is my dilemma on which I hope you will weigh in:

A middle school student takes the SAT as part of talent search, receiving a commendable score for a 7th grader, but not anywhere close to what would be hoped for as a highly competitive college applicant. However, the scores would be more than sufficient to qualify for entry into his/her high school's dual enrollment program in a year and a half.

Should the student request to retain the test scores to eliminate the need for a dual enrollment entrance exam? If so, will colleges and universities (even selective ones) recognize the test was administered in middle school and give it proper attention (or rather, lack thereof)? Or would it be more prudent to allow the scores to be deleted, as is standard, and simply take an exam again in a year to 2 years' time?


Will trying to skip yet-another-entrance-exam possibly come back to bite this student?

“The Dean" is old, too, so I feel your pain.

When a 7th or 8th grader takes the SAT, it's usually to gain entrance into a program for gifted students such as Duke's TIP or Johns Hopkins' CTY. These SAT scores then vaporize and don't stay on the student's permanent record. But here's the rub … some students want to keep the scores. And this is permissible, but only if the student gives the College Board the green light to save the scores, and this must be done no later than June of the year that the test was taken. (Frankly, this is just one other reason why “The Dean" is irked by the College Board … and let me count the ways. 😉 I mean, it it really necessary to put pressure on a 12-year-old to make an immediate choice that could easily be made three or four years down the road? But that's another conversation for another day.)

Meanwhile, it's fine for your student to keep the 7th grade SAT scores on his/her permanent record. When senior year rolls around, college admission officials will note the date that this test was taken and not consider it when making admission decisions. I am not a fan of over-testing so it makes sense for this student to skip the SAT in 9th grade since the current scores already make the Dual Enrollment cut.

BUT … if students at this child's high school ordinarily apply to the Dual Enrollment program using scores from tests taken in 9th grade, you want to make certain that there is no advantage to applying to Dual Enrollment with higher scores than the 7th-grade version. I assume that there isn't, but it's something you should confirm.

You should also be sure that the Dual Enrollment cut-off scores won't go up in the next year or two, if your student's scores are close to the current minimum. (Granted, if that does happen, he or she would simply have to take the test again. That's not a huge deal but it's what we're trying to avoid.)

You should also confirm, if you haven't already, that official 7th grade SAT scores will count with the Dual Enrollment folks. I can't see any reason why not, but it wouldn't be the first time that a public school policy was nonsensical. 😯

So … assuming that there is no advantage to applying for Dual Enrollment with higher scores than this student attained in Grade 7 and assuming that the Dual Enrollment administrators don't require more recent (or better) SAT results, then I heartily endorse the plan to save the middle-school scores for Dual Enrollment. There is no worry that they will affect actual college admission later on.

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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