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Taking the SAT

  1. Dec 27, 2013 #1
    Well, I was wondering if the SAT is actually required for applying to 'elite' educational institutes, such as Harvard, MIT or Caltech.

    I ask this because my cousin is refusing to take the SAT, but gets outstanding grades in school; and have received 5s his subjects tests.

    Would they take into consideration the subject tests?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2013 #2
    I have never heard of any higher educational institution waiving the SAT. I suppose it's possible, but if your cousin is as intelligent as you suggest, then he's probably better off taking it, as it can only strengthen his application. This absolutely crucial for the elite universities, as you're competing against the best in the world, of which most likely all have taken the SAT or equivalent with near perfect scores.
  4. Dec 27, 2013 #3


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    The SAT subject tests are out of 800 not 5. If you mean the AP exams, colleges don't look at those during the admissions process so that won't be of any help. Grades are only one factor in the admissions process. You will require the SAT (and for schools like MIT and CalTech you will require specific SAT subject tests as well) if you're a regular domestic student.

    Also keep in mind that depending on the AP exam, the weight it carries might have no meaning beyond granting of course credit upon admission. A 5 on the AP Calc BC exam literally means nothing beyond course credit because it's such a ridiculously easy exam and so many people get a 5 on it. On the other hand a 5 on the AP Bio exam (at least in recent years) would carry more weight.
  5. Dec 27, 2013 #4
    Yea... I think it is the one out of 800 I was speaking of. He is scared of the SAT because he has a language barrier (kind of like me). He took the ACT & received a 35 in the math portion. But received in the mid 20s in English.

    How should I encourage him?
  6. Dec 28, 2013 #5


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    Look on their web sites!
  7. Dec 28, 2013 #6


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    If you want to know what the requirements for admission are at any particular college, they tell you on their web sites. Many say their require the SAT or ACT, plus a couple of SAT II's.

    However, be aware that under the proper circumstances pretty much any "requirement" can be waived. Not all, but most. Of course it's unlikely that anybody in admissions will admit it. A fine excuse that might be accepted sounds like "I was training with the IMO team so I missed the Math II subject test." Less likely to find favor is "The SAT is so idiotic I just couldn't stand to take it."

    Also you can go "elite" international and increase the likelihood of admissions people not caring about USA standardized tests. My son applied to Trinity College at Cambridge to read maths after being home schooled in California. He applied without providing any standardized test scores at all.
  8. Dec 28, 2013 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    First, jtbell is exactly right. Look on their web site.

    Second, while it is true that there is no law against admitting a student who hasn't submitted a complete application, it almost never happens. Counting on it would be unwise.

    Third, without an English standardized test score, the admissions department is going to work under the assumption that it's terrible. Perhaps even more terrible than it would be had he taken it.

    Fourth, I think your cousin should think very hard about applying outside the most competitive schools. MIT is not known for its English department, and the number of people they took last year with an English ACT less than 25 was...one. He's shooting at a very, very, very small target.
  9. Dec 28, 2013 #8


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    Some colleges and universities do have an "SAT optional" admissions policy:


    MIT, Harvard and Caltech aren't on the list, sorry. But I see some pretty respectable small colleges including Middlebury and Bowdoin.
  10. Dec 28, 2013 #9


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    The two realistic options are:
    1. Learn English.
    2. Go to a university that teaches in a language where he doesn't have a barrier.
  11. Dec 28, 2013 #10
    So universities like MIT consider >25 English score to be exceptional? If that's the case, he got a 26. Would his score on math make him likely to be considered?

    Does the ACT & SAT weigh the same for colleges? Do they prefer one from the other?
  12. Dec 28, 2013 #11


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    I don't think that's what V50 meant. Take a look at the ACT profile for last year's incoming class: http://mitadmissions.org/apply/process/stats

    Clearly a 26 in the English section is far below the norm for MIT applicant profiles. Furthermore a 35 in Math would basically put the applicant in the norm for MIT so it wouldn't be exceptional at all, just normal.

    Your cousin has to understand that when it comes to schools like MIT, the majority of competitive applicants will have top-tier ACT/SAT scores and GPAs. Riding solely on a good GPA won't get him/her into MIT.

    This is something that should be checked individually for each college that your cousin applies to. Colleges will have FAQs that answer common questions like this.
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