In this episode, we will be discussing what effects your SAT/ACT have on your college application and a range you should aim for.


Welcome back to my podcast, who cares about college. This is episode four. And we will be discussing the importance of your SAT or your ACT’s. So your sh t and ACT is, it’s a test that you take in America, either in your junior or senior year, depending on which high school you attend. And basically, they give you a score. And a lot of the times for most colleges, you do have to submit the score. And it’s basically it tests your core subjects. So for example, the SAT, which is usually taken up in like, you know, the northern part of America is, is basically reading and math right, your two main core subjects, and then the ACT, I’m taking the SAT, I know that for sure. So I don’t know much about the A CT. But I think there’s also like a science section as well. So you have math and reading on the SAT. And then for the ACT you have math reading, and then I think you have a science section as well. So the SAT, it gives you a score out of 1600. And then the ACT gives you a score out of 36. So I myself am taking SAT, like I said, and I’m going to start preparing for this SAT test, because my high school requires us to take it in the beginning of our junior year, we can take it again in our what is it called senior year, but it is mandatory to take it during your junior year. And I’m definitely going to start preparing for it because it is it is a very important test, I’m going to prepare and then of course, the summer before I go into my junior year, I’m going to prepare. So for the longest time, like I don’t really get like, at first I didn’t understand like, Oh, what was the SAT and the ACT. But now I know it is like a very, very important test for high schoolers to take. It’s like your biggest standardized test. It’s the one that goes to colleges. But interesting enough, now, a lot of people are arguing that the PSAT and the ACT don’t represent you as a person. So a lot of colleges, I’m pretty sure this is like everywhere, like probably state colleges, top colleges are now requiring you to submit your essay T or your ACT score for college. So I guess a few years ago, it was very like, oh, you needed to take it this is like really good for it looks really good on your college application. But some people are not requiring it, requiring you to put on it. So if you get like a bad score on this, and you don’t think this represents you as a student, and you think it could negatively affect you. For some schools, you don’t have to submit your score. But other schools, you do have to submit it no matter like you know, no matter whether you did good or bad on it. And I think that’s a topic for another pot, like another episode about whether this like ops, it’s called Test optional, so you can submit it or you don’t have to. So I this is like another episode test optional, whether it is, you know, a good thing or a bad thing, etc, right. So, I think for, of course, for most top colleges, that I’m going to speak in the context of top colleges, because they’re the ones that really like most students, if you want if you’re going to apply to a top college, you’re really aiming for a really high SAT or ACT score. But when I was when I was in Chicago, and I was writing my article, I was doing some research, and I looked at the UChicago website. And

one of their students that they had accepted that year, the lowest standardized test that they had accepted that year was from the ACT. And it was a person who got a 21. Remember, the ACT is out of 36 and this person got a 21 Can you believe it? Is like a good I think the average score New Chicago I’m not 100%? Sure, but based on you know how you Chicago is ranked number three in the United States. The average score is probably about like a 33 or 34. And someone got a 21 on and at first I was so confused. And I was like what is this? I’ve been told my whole life that this test is so important. And yet you’re telling me that a person got a 21 on it and was still accepted into this really prestigious university. And I realized the SAT and ACT for top colleges, it kind of requires you to have a large a high score and maybe 100 If you can do that, but they do I think in my opinion have some exceptions. Because if you do look on like prep scholar or something they’ll show you like the average ACT SAT score for that school, whichever colleges, whichever college you’re looking at, right and on the medium spectrum for top colleges, it’s usually like for example the SAT it’s out of 1600 Usually the medium will be about 1500 something and then for the ACT the it’s out of 36 so the average will probably be like the medium will be Probably like a 3334, right. And then of course, they have like their outliers, people who got a perfect score, and then people who got a lower score. And I think these lower scores are for those students that, like, for example, I think it’s a lot of it’s for athletes as well. So for an athlete, they are recruiting you, they’re bringing you to their college because they want you for your athletic abilities. So even though you can’t really fail High School, if you are a top recruit, and everyone everyone is competing for you, I highly doubt that even look at your SAT and ACT score. Of course, you can’t be having like F’s in all your classes. But the I don’t think they really care. So for you your SAT and ACT score. So if you are an athlete, your essay and you’re like being recruited and stuff for college, I don’t think your score your score doesn’t matter as much as a person who is not an athlete who is just like a regular high school student. Another possibility as to why you Chicago high 21 as their lowest like acceptance, what is because of something called like a world class student. So a world class student is basically someone who excels like, really excels in one particular area, so that there’s just this huge margin between his her classmates and his or herself. And you know, this can be anything this can be like a math prodigy a science prodigy, I don’t know, instrumental prodigy, right? So it can be really anything. And I guess you can count athletes into this. But these students, they have something that makes them so special, they have something that makes them stand out from their peers. So colleges again, same with the athlete, yes, they don’t want you to be failing High School, if you fail High School, you’re really not going to get into like any top college. But if you’re doing relatively okay, and you have this, this talent, this particular area, which you are excelling at, and that it just makes you it makes your classmates look so like insignificant, insignificant, but like, it just shows how great you are, it makes you stand out in a very special way. So colleges, again, are not going to really look for these standardized test scores. Because if you’re a science prodigy or something, maybe your strength isn’t reading. And it’s really not fair. If you’re not good at reading, and you fail the reading section of the SAT, your ACT, and colleges don’t accept you because of that, right. And you know, colleges don’t just accept you based on a test score, there are multiple components to your college application, this SAT and a CT score, she’s like a direct cut, it shows you how well you’re doing compared to the rest of the nation. And that kind of brings me into another topic. I think the reason they have this essay T and ACT thing is because it’s kind of like a baseline for every single high school student applying for college in the United States. Because, you know, each school is going to have a different number of APS, it’s going to have a different number of extracurriculars and like different kinds of extracurriculars you can take so and based on you know, the community you live in, you are limited by those opportunities, but the ACT and SAT, by the time you take it, by the time you take it, you have learned everything that is supposed to be on there. So you should know everything that like you know, the math that’s on there, you should know that you should have learned that by now, the reading that’s on there, you should have learned that by now. So it’s kind of like this foundation, this baseline that colleges can equally compare students because it’s very hard to compare students that you want to accept, defer and reject based on like, you know, other like fluff other like components of your college application that can really vary based on what kind of environment you live in which school you go to. But this, but this standardized test provides this, like, it’s just a free comparison for all colleges. So I guess the higher your test score, the better it looks for you. So I think I think that’s why they have the SAT and ACT in the first place. And that’s really the only reason it makes sense because this is the one they can freely compare students without putting other factors in. So I thrown all these factors at you, you know, like, first of all, this the standardized test the sh t or the ACT,

it’s this universal thing, that it’s the only thing that colleges can really compare you to. And then of course, they make exceptions for these world class students, you know, the ones that are athletes that are being recruited, who are like, everyone is competing for them, or these like prodigies, these world class students that have this, this big significant talent that none of their classmates do. So they are the exception. I think they can get away with lower standardized test scores. But for other people, like for example, I don’t have anything world class about me I have no I’m not a math prodigy. I haven’t written a revolutionary science paper. So for people like me who are just like normal high school students, and you know, we’re trying to be at the top where we are like, near the top of our class. We’re trying really hard. We’re taking rigorous courses I think The SAT and the ACT, no matter what colleges are saying, and I know like I said, some colleges are not requiring it because it may not be a reflection of who you are for students like, like me, like us who aren’t world class. I think these standardized test scores matter a lot, in my opinion, you know, I could be wrong. I’m not an admissions officer, I would really like an admissions officer opinion on this. But right now, I think they’re almost as like important, as you know, your essays, your extracurricular. So, yeah, I think if you are, like me, and you don’t have anything that makes you stand out from the crowd immensely, and then the colleges look at and they’re like, yes, I want the student and I will do anything for the student to get the student into my college, then you should try really hard on your SAT and ACT’s. Okay, so now that we know that we do have to actually try on the standardized test, what is the average score, right? So again, I’m going to go with the SAT example, because this is the one I’m taking this is the one I’ve grown up with knowing ACT, I hope to be more educated on it. Oh, and by the way, if you do live in the north, and your school offers you the SAT, as like every student has like take the SAT, you can ask to take the ACT and they will allow you to do that. So you’re not limited to do that. So and then the same thing, if your school requires you to take the ACT, you can ask to take the SAT as well see which one you do better on and then submit whichever score you want to write. So you’re not just limited to one of them you can choose, but I know most likely I am going to be taking it and taking the SAT and submitting the SAT to colleges. So again, I said the SAT is out of 1600. I know very few people get it, I think maybe like a, I don’t know, maybe a few 100,000 per year, get the score. And it’s basically it’s split into two sections. So eight 800 points for the math section 800 points for the reading section. And colleges do look at the score separately. So if you do have kind of like what seems like a lower score to them, they can look at those individual sections. And maybe you really, you really did really well on math, let’s say you got a 760 out of 800 on the math section or a 770 out of 800 on a math section. But then on the reading you did a bit lower. So your score looks a little bit lower. But it’s just that reading component. So they do look at both. So let’s look at one college. One College, let’s look at not an Ivy League. I don’t want to do an Ivy League. NYU, let’s look at NYU. So their average SAT was a 1400. Well, the year that I’m writing this right 2019 2020, I believe, right? So the average for math was 730 out of 800. And the average for English is six 680. So this is calculated through the percentile, right? So 1400 1410 this average score for the SAT is what like the mean is the average. So they compiled all the SAT scores that they had from their students, the acceptance students, the accepted students, sorry. And they found the average of that, and that average was 1410. You know, so that means there are students who got less than 1410, probably in the 1200s 1300. And then there are people who got more than that, and then maybe even like a perfect score person. So 1410 is like the average. And I think if you are a using this example, if you are a world class student, if you are an athlete 1410 is not something that you should be like if you want to go to NYU or something, right. 1410 is not something that you should like, really, really aim for you can get a little bit can get less than this and still get accepted into NYU. Like I said, I think the lower scores are reserved for these world class students, these athletes. And then if you’re

let’s say you’re like me, right? And you don’t have anything like very world class about you, I would aim higher than this I would aim for. So if their average was 1410 I would aim for 1500 or more on this. And I know that’s 90 points more but I really think that 1410 is it’s not I don’t think it’s gonna be enough because the higher your SAT score, ACT score, the more I wouldn’t say the more likely the college is going to accept you, but it just makes you look better overall. So I’d say if you have like basically the same qualifications as a person, I don’t know let’s say you live in I don’t know Colorado and then there’s another person from Nevada applying. If you guys have like basically the same level like of extracurriculars the same intensity, your academic rigor, right? Let’s say your essays are both like, really, they’re really good. And they’re brilliant. And they’re very format. They’re beautifully like written and the admissions officers like both of them. I think it’s little things like these, like, who had the SAT score that was higher, who had this higher whatever like this, even if you guys have relatively like the same kind of application, I think it’s little things like these, the SAT and ACT score that really determines like, you know, who gets in? And NYU? Let’s see, what is NYU ranked? I think it’s in the top. I think it’s in the top 20. According to US News, as of 2020. Oh, it’s number 29 national universities. And it’s tied with someone. So yeah, it’s still a very prestigious university. It’s really, let’s see their acceptance rate. And more you. Yes, so it’s about like 20, some percent 20 to 30%. So that is really prestigious, that is really hard. Yeah. So as you can see, NYU is not is a very prestigious school. It’s definitely not as prestigious as some other schools who are going to have higher averages. But I think it’s still very rigorous class. So vigorous home, I know what am I saying? Rigorous school. So a score of 1410. If you are a, you know, like kind of regular normal student, you need to get something higher than this if you want to get into NYU. And that doesn’t mean you can’t get into NYU, if you have a 1410 I just think your chances are much more likely if you have a higher score than this. So if you’re looking for a specific school that you’re that you want to go to search it up and probably not even like prep scholar has like these percentage percentiles is usually where I get my data from. But I’m pretty sure there’s other other people, other places, other websites, which gather data, which gather data from all the colleges all over the world, and not just like the top colleges like all over and show you the different percentiles, you know, the different SAT and ACT scores. And then you can see what your school that your dream school or you’re at what you’re aiming for, what their averages, and I think the average is going to be in the 50 percentile, right? So I think it’s best to aim for the 75th percentile if you can, or get really close to that. So let’s look at another school. Let’s look at Vanderbilt. And Vanderbilt. This is more prestigious than NYU is think it’s in the top 10 Oh, no. Vanderbilt Vanderbilt is number 15. And it’s tied with some other schools. So it is still very prestigious, more prestigious than NYU and their SAT score is actually 100 More than NYU, their average is a 1510. According to prep scholar. Yeah. So they’re, when I look at this data now Oh, look at this. They’re 75th percentile for math is an 800. That is the most you can get on the math, math portion of the SAT. And then for English, the 75th percentile is 760. Oh, this is a reoccurring pattern, people tend to do better on the math section. And actually, I kind of say this is true, because when I was taken, because my high school requires us to take the PSAT so when I was taking this PSAT in the beginning of my freshman year, this year, the math section was ridiculously easy. And I know it doesn’t have all this stuff there. Because I’m still I’m doing algebra two now. Right? And I think there’s I’m pretty sure there’s some pre calc stuff on the on the ACT and SAT. So it was a little bit easier didn’t have any of the pre calc components to it. But it was it was so easy.

I got almost all the questions, right. The one question I didn’t like a couple of questions I didn’t get right were really stupid errors of me. I don’t want to talk about it. But the math section does tend to be easier, at least for the SAT. I don’t know what it is for, like, I don’t know what it is for the ACT. But I think I think it’s it goes, you know the same way. I think math overall is easier judging by these percentiles 8800 in the 75th percentile, but then only 760 in the 75th percentile for reading. So in terms of what score you should be aiming for, if you are a world class student or a top recruited athlete, I think you should be aiming for probably between the 25th and 50th percentile of the hardest to get into school the your most like prestigious school on your list. And then if you are if you are a normal high school student, you don’t have anything super world class about you look at your again, hardest school to get into, you know the one with the lowest acceptance rate, and then aim for the 75th percentile in that school. And if you don’t end up reaching your goal on one like you know, whatever you said. So let’s say you want to go to NYU and the second 25th percentile is about like a 1500 or 1510, then if you don’t get that if you get lower than that, that’s fine. But if you really, really think you can reach a higher score, you are allowed to take the SAT or the ACT a few times, I think it’s up to three times. Yeah, I think that’s what it is up to three times. So you can keep doing this. And then what colleges will do is they will super score. So they’ll take all your, all your scores, and then they’ll get you know, like the highest highest bit. So they’ll get your highest math score and your highest reading score, and then that put that together to give you you know, your super score. So that’s what I think you should be aiming for based on whether you’re a world class student and athlete or just like a normal high school kid. So basically, what I want to get out of this is if you are getting recruited for sport, or you’re somebody with this world class talent, you’re not going to get anywhere with a really low score, even if you’re being recruited. If you get like nothing, right, if you get the lowest score possible on the SAT or ACT, nobody’s going to accept you. So you try to aim high, there’s nothing wrong with aiming higher than you need, but you can get away with a lower score. But if you are a normal high school student, like you know, for the rest of us aim really high, you know, look at your hardest to get into school and study for that one study and try to get that score. And again, you know, if you don’t get it the first time that you can try and try again. But of course there’s a limit, but you can try until you do get that score. And that’s about it, guys, thank you for listening all the way through on my fourth episode. I hope you got stuff out of this. And of course, my opinion, if you don’t agree with my opinion on the importance of this test, that’s completely fine. And my opinions probably gonna change by the by like a few pot by a few episodes, maybe like many episodes later, when I do more research, when I understand more about this, and I do more interviews, and I find out, you know, what scores did these different people get? And how did it affect how do they think it affected their college application, and then getting an admissions officers opinion on different levels of schools to see oh, you know, how important really helped route? How important is the school? Is the score? How does it really affect you if you have if you excel in basically every single other area of your high school application, but then you’re lacking in your SAT in ACT is how much is going to affect you. So that’s I My opinion is definitely subject to change. I’m still like, relatively new to this and I’m exploring and I’m finding out you know, what is going to work out what am I going to have to be concerned about when I do put together my college application. So anyways guys, thank you for listening, and I hope to catch you in the next one. So who cares about college? Well, I do. I want all of you to go on this journey to get into your dream college. I want you to succeed. I believe in you. We are in this together. Adios Amigos Ciao ciao. This is your host Kamila hooks catch you in the next one. Bye