Preparing for College

Should Son With Perfect ACT Score Submit SAT, Too?

Question: My daughter just went through the college application process and will be attending Harvard in September. I don't know how prevalent this is, but she took the ACT and SAT (one time each), scored a 34 and 2230 respectively, and submitted both scores with her college applications.

My son, who is a rising junior, took the ACT in early June and just learned he scored a 36. Even though colleges say they don't care which test kids take, are highly selective colleges looking for both tests? Is more data better? Or is less more?

It sounds like neither of your kids is a slouch in the academic department, eh? Whether it's nature or nurture, I hope you're taking at least some of the credit. ;)

Here's my advice for your son: There is no need for him to take the SAT I (Reasoning Test) if he has not done so already. In fact, I would suggest that he NOT take it, since there's nowhere to go but down, after a perfect ACT. But he should take the SAT II (Subject Tests).

Some of the highly selective colleges that require the Subject Tests will allow students to submit an ACT score in place of BOTH the SAT I and the SAT II. However, at the so-called "elite" schools, your son will be "competing" with applicants who have submitted multiple Subject Tests and who have shown off top scores in a range of academic areas including those that the ACT doesn't really cover. So, a combination of a strong ACT score and two or three strong Subject Test scores, especially in history, foreign language and/or science, would be a wise approach. Unless your son takes a stab at the Subject Tests and doesn't do really well, my advice would be for him to submit the ACT plus SAT Subject Tests to all his target college.

Of course, if he already took the SAT I and his scores are very strong as well (even if not perfect) he should certainly feel free to send them, too. Moreover, some of the most selective colleges now claim to "require" applicants to send all test scores, regardless of the College Board's new "Score Choice" option (which is a good reason for him NOT to try the SAT I, if he hasn't already.)

Personally, I'm a big fan of "Less is More," but this college process often leaves too little room for that philosophy!

Good luck to your son ... and to you as you navigate this maze (again).