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Are these numbers correct?


Replies to: Are these numbers correct?

  • bclintonkbclintonk Posts: 48
    edited May 2013
    You're wrong to focus so single-mindedly on standardized test scores--the colleges don't. You're also wrong to assume that everyone admitted to the "top 20" research universities and "top 20" LACs will have a higher standardized test score than your daughter. I assume, from the percentiles, that your daughter got a 32 on the ACT. That's a great score, and it's good enough, if it's accompanied by a broader package of outstanding credentials (GPA, class rank, rigor of HS curriculum, ECs, GC and teacher recommendations, essays, etc.), to make her competitive at just about any college in the country.

    But I can also tell you that every college in the country will admit some students with ACT scores lower than your daughter's. Even mighty Harvard reports that, among the 32% of its entering class reporting ACT scores, the middle 50% scores ranged from 31 to 35. The SAT figures are similar. So if we just extrapolate from the ACT numbers, we can say that fully 25% of Harvard's entering class had ACT scores of 31 or lower--i.e., lower than your daughter's. Of course, if it wanted to, Harvard could easily fill up its entering class with people scoring 35 or higher (or the SAT equivalent). The fact that they don't is a sure indication that standardized test scores, on their own, are far less important to them than you imagine, and consequently far less predictive of admission than you imagine.

    But if your conclusion from your mathematical exercise is that your daughter needs to look beyond "top 20" colleges, that's absolutely right. The top 20 are "reaches" for anyone with a 32 ACT, or even anyone with a 36 ACT; a perfect standardized test score doesn't guarantee admission to these colleges. She should be looking at a broader range of colleges, of varying degrees of selectivity.

    I can also tell you that there are many outstanding colleges and universities that don't make US News' "top 20" (which I assume is the source you're using for your calculations, because the US News "top 20" currently doesn't include any public universities; if it did, the numbers would quickly start to look very different).
  • 2016BarnardMom2016BarnardMom Posts: 4
    edited May 2013
    You have the wrong premise about the percentile rank also. It does not mean 2% did better. It means she did better than 98%. There is no 100th percentile. The max is 99th percentile.
  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo Posts: 18
    edited May 2013
    Your basic info is correct in terms of the number of spots and the number of kids who theoretically got higher scores than ur D. However, the private schools get around this info by saying that they do a "holistic" evaluation of students, which basically allows them to pick kids based on the mix of scores, gpa, special skills, ECs, LORs, development, legacy, athletes, URMs, shoe size, left handedness or whatever. Thus, these schools will dip below the 98% often to take students. This is when students cry "foul" and that it should be a meritocracy based on scores and GPA.
    Bottom line is that you need to score a high enough level to show that you were capable of doing the work, which ur D meets, and then that gets tossed out and they make their decisions based on everything else.

    The large public schools tend to accept more based purely on scores and class rank. (Or at least the CA UC schools do).

    Btw, I know kids who scored top 1% in sat who did not get accepted to top 20 uni and lacs
  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo Posts: 18
    edited May 2013
    Conversely, I know a kid at Yale with sat of around 1800. Not a urm and no hooks.
  • Data10Data10 Posts: 28 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    After the top 20 national universities, we began to see very large public universities. So from 21-25 you might have another 25,000 acceptances and for the second tier LAC's you can add another 2,000 admissions. So...if you are realistic AND scored higher on the standardized tests than 98% of all kids taking the test, you can begin to look at schools squarely in the dreaded second tier!

    Someone PLEASE tell me my methodology is wrong.
    As others have said your methodology is indeed wrong. The schools look at far more than just SAT scores. With many of the schools, the admissions process is closer to "okay this student's SAT score is fine, now lets look at the rest of the application."

    You can confirm this by looking at the test scores reported by the admitting class of these schools. Stanford had the lowest admit rate of the USNWR top 20 this year, so using your methodology all the admits would have top SAT scores, yet >20% were below 700 on any of the individual subject tests, which corresponds to below 93-96th percentile. I was accepted to Stanford several years ago, while only scoring in the 46th percentile on my verbal SAT.
  • glidoglido Posts: 35
    edited May 2013
    The methodology is wrong because the "tippy-top" schools want to build diverse classes. They evaluate applicants' entire application, not just their standardized tests (ACT & SAT). They accept thousands of students who are below the top 2%. Also, tens of thousands of top 2% testers choose to go to state schools.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296
    edited May 2013
    YoHoYoHo wrote:
    The large public schools tend to accept more based purely on scores and class rank. (Or at least the CA UC schools do).

    Officially, UCs do not use class rank at all; they use high school courses, grades, and GPA, although their consideration in context of what was available at the high school creates an indirect correlation with class rank. UCs also use a holistic comprehensive review process, although it is designed more for consistency, repeatability, and scalability than the holistic review processes that some private schools are said to use. But since the UCs are not at the point where they have more "near maximum academic credential" applicants than admission places, the academic credentials will show a more meaningful distinction between those admitted and rejected.

    In contrast, the CSUs just calculate a formula of GPA and test scores, admitting applicants from the top of the ranking of the formula into each major until the major or campus is filled to capacity.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 57
    edited May 2013
    Both our kids were admitted to all the schools they applied to. Colleges that consider much more than grades & test scores, including top schools that meet 100% and don't offer merit aid. Scores are important, but only one part of application.
    We found essays & recommendations to be weighted more heavily.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    I didn't get the sense the OP thought "admissions are all about test scores." He was just making a point about how big the pie of high-test-scorers is, compared to the number of seats at top schools.
  • 3togo3togo Posts: 17
    edited May 2013
    I didn't get the sense the OP thought "admissions are all about test scores." He was just making a point about how big the pie of high-test-scorers is, compared to the number of seats at top schools.

    I agree. I believe the OP was trying to get a handle on how many other highly qualified applicants there are along her/his well qualified kid.

    A similar stat to bring this home is that there are about 30,000 high schools in the US ... so 30k vals, 30k paper editors, 30k, first violins, etc.

    Punch line there are a ton of very qualified applicants out there. I interviewed for my school for a few years and was amazed with the quality of the kids who were accepted ... and saddened by the amazing candidates who were not accepted. Of the kids who I interviewed easily 80% were qualified while 20-25% were accepted.
  • CreeklandCreekland Posts: 23
    edited May 2013
    Here is the table for ACT scores for class of 2012. Look on about page 14. This will tell you how many kids got each score.

    Thank you for that link! I forwarded it on to my middle son so he can bask a little in his accomplishment. FWIW, he's in the 100% CP (yes, they do round to 100% on these actual stats) and is one who never cared to apply to tippy top schools. He's at a very nice school (top 30 something), doing extremely well, with nice merit aid and opportunities that he likely wouldn't be able to get (as a Freshman) elsewhere. No regrets at all on his part. He's not the only one with his scores there either. He has peers.

    Find the school that fits the student - not the school that fits the scores. (Acknowledging that scores are part of a fit.) Popular rankings are almost meaningless IMO - not 100% meaningless, but certainly not the solid foundations many choose to give them.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Posts: 79
    edited May 2013
    I agree with Pizzagirl again! (post #25) This can only be a sign of a warp in the space-time continuum!
  • Bigdaddy88Bigdaddy88 Posts: 34 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Pizzagirl is correct. I was just a little taken aback by the fact that my D is in such rarified air and still has tens of thousands of kids with better stats!

    BTW, my D has a 4.0 uwGPA, all honors and AP courses, great EC's including two varsity sports and lots of volunteering. She is a terrific writer so I'm pretty confident her essays will be great. I also feel comfortable that her LOR's will be top notch.

    I just make a broad assumption that this will be the case with the vast majority of kids at the very top of the standard test scorer's.
  • CreeklandCreekland Posts: 23
    edited May 2013
    I just make a broad assumption that this will be the case with the vast majority of kids at the very top of the standard test scorer's.

    With many of them, it will be. I suspect it's those who don't realize this who end up in the spring wondering what happened...
  • RobDRobD Posts: 6
    edited May 2013
    What I told both my D's was that their test scores and GPAs made them legitimate buyers of lottery tickets into the super reach schools they applied to. Beyond that, I told them not to expect to get in, but that they had as good a chance as most. And if you don't get at least 1 no, then you probably didn't reach high enough.

    Every year at this time, newspapers across the country run stories about little Johnny with the 36 ACT and perfect GPA who didn't get into Stanford or Yale and OMG if he didn't get in, then who did? The reality is that as 3togo says, we all live in one of 30,000 bubbles and unless you're on CC or the like, it's hard to imagine how much competition there is from across the U.S. and internationally as well. Here's one of this year's stories: Twin Cities students find all A?s aren?t automatic ticket to college | StarTribune.com

    I was told years ago that there was a testing threshold that if you fell below, would probably be an automatic "no" but that as long as you passed that bar, then you were evaluated holistically against the rest of the applicant pool (I'm talking for Top 20 schools here.) I feel like it was 32 ACT and 2200 SAT, but that may need to be bumped up a little now vs. 2010. But when you have 30,000 applicants vying for 2,000 freshman spots (or less) and the school has a high yield, it's still uphill. Adcoms at Ivy's say they could fill their classes successfully many times over from their applicant pool. Even if only 80% of Top 20 school applicants are legitimately at the level to be admitted that's still an awful lot of talented, motivated students who are told no.

    One thing that helped me get a sense of where my kiddos fell was calculating their AI-Academic Index. I'll try to find the data about what the admit rates were for different AI ranges; of course, technically that's just for Ivy athletic recruits, but I know I read something somewhere about how it's used for non-athletes as well.

    Our kiddos almost all land in a place where they do well and find strong faculty in their area of interest. And knowing there are so many talented students across the country makes you realize that your child can find their academic peers in many, many schools :)
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