Saturday, November 15, 2008

SAT and ACT: Are scores on these tests indicative of my college acceptance?

Hey guys (and gals), this is John, I'm one of Sohan's friends here at Cornell University. I just wanted to tell you a little bit about SAT and ACT scores and if you have any questions, feel free to respond. It is a long lived myth that the primary factor colleges take into consideration is your score on the SAT or ACT. Some schools you are considering may have statistics on their websites that suggest that your score is not high enough to get accepted. But remember, when you are looking on these websites, the data they present typically consist of the mean or the median scores and don't fully represent the whole student body.

Here is one personal example in which comparatively lower SAT scores had no effect on admissions. When I arrived at Cornell University, I met Sohan and soon after, when we were discussing our college decisions, I revealed my SAT score of 1900. This came as a bit of a shock to him because the average SAT score at Cornell is around 2100. My score was 200 points below average and I had no troubles getting accepted into Cornell and many other top tier schools. I knew the high school I went to was well below national academic achievement averages so I became heavily involved in extracurricular activities in order to remedy this disadvantaged academic background.

I also have friends from my high school who had SAT scores right at 1500 and had no trouble in getting accepted into other nationally ranked colleges and universities. We will discuss more about essential extracurricular activities later on. For now, the point to remember is that SAT scores and ACT scores are not indicative of your chances of being admitted into the college of your choice. Focus on your high school grades and extracurricular activities and these will lead you down the pathway to success!

For those of you who feel that your SAT score is much lower than you want it to be and you really need some extra help, stay tuned for a blog on how to succeed on the SATs.


  1. Hi John or perhaps, Sohan,
    This is great information! I was wondering, though, how much do the SAT subject tests affect admission? What did you guys receive on your scores?

    Also, how do you feel about the size of Cornell. 13,900 undergrads that's quite a few. Freshman year what was the largest class you had and the smallest one?

    And, finally, this is quite nit-picky, but do you know how large the pre-vet sector of Cornell is?
    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this blog,

  2. Hey Jennifer,

    From what I've seen SAT subject tests do not have such a high bearing on admissions. Just make sure that you do complete all the required ones. Some schools require two subject tests, others three, and some want one science and one liberal arts, etc. Check with the schools to which you are applying beforehand.

    I took Math II, US History, and Chemistry. I took US History and Chemistry the same month that I had the AP tests for those classes, so I had to do very little additional studying. I just completed a few practice tests of each, which was sufficient (I think the Chem test has some weird formatted questions too). I believe I got 770, 760, and 800, respectively, on those.

    If you're taking an AP classes, I'd recommend to take those SAT subject tests to save yourself some studying.

  3. As for the size of the school, it's very manageable. Seeing new faces and being able to constantly meet new people is nice. Because there are so many people, you can find your own niche of friends or hang out with a very diverse crowd.

    Some intro classes have nearly 1000 registered students, with some lectures containing around 400 students (e.g., General Chemistry). On the other side of the spectrum, discussion classes (aka recitations) run less than 20 students usually. As you get into more advanced classes and not the general introduction ones, the class sizes decrease. Lectures tend to be bigger (maybe 50-200 people), but there are almost always smaller discussion classes in addendum to the lecture.

    Unfortunately, I don't know much about the pre-vet sector :( I do have a few friends who are pre-vet, and they all love it. Also I hear Cornell has an amazing vet program.

    Thanks for your interest in the blog and Cornell! I hope this helped, and please let me know if you have any other questions. :)