So a buddy and I were having lunch and talking about colleges. My D scored in 98th percentile on the ACT. This means that 2% of all kids taking the test scored higher. Pretty good...until you look at the numbers.
I realize that not everyone takes the ACT, but for argument sake, assume that she is in the 98th percentile in the standardized test realm.
So, 3.4 million kids graduate from US high schools nowadays. If 2% of those kids scored higher than her that equals 68,000 kids.
If you use USNWR rankings as a starting point then the top 20 national universities accept roughly 40,000 kids and the top 20 LAC's accept roughly 8,000 kids. That means that after those tippy top schools are off the table, there are still 20,000 kids with better standardized test scores than my D who is in the 98th percentile! To make matters worse, this doesn't include international students!!
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!