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Friday, May 20, 2016

UVA and the New SAT

I usually write a post about a big admission issue when that topic has come up over and over again in discussions with prospective students or their parents. When it comes to the redesigned SAT, it seems like students and parents that are visiting us this season aren't all that worried. Maybe there are so many changes in college admission that a test redesign doesn't cause anxiety. Or maybe people are happy about the new scoring...

Anyway, we have a page on our website that addresses our testing policy.  I thought I would go into a little more detail here.

1. By the application deadline, send something.

While it's nice to have one thing in the file that is standardized (remember, schools have very different styles when it comes to calculating GPA and rank), we don't have a preference when it comes to the test you take. By the deadline, you want a score from the ACT or SAT (either of them) in your file.

2. We recombine sections to get the best set of scores.

I shy away from saying we "super score" the SAT because that implies that we are just looking at your total SAT score. Students with identical total scores could have very different sections scores. For example...

Student A:  1300 SAT (500R/800M)
Student B:  1300 SAT (650R/650M)

This isn't to say those two students would be put side-by-side in our review like that. I just want you to consider why we don't just use total scores in our review.

When we open a file, our system will automatically look for the best possible sections to show to us. We don't even see all of the scores you send us. 

3. Scores from different exams aren't combined.

We don't mix sections from different exams together. So we wouldn't put a math score from the ACT together with a reading/writing score from the SAT. Similarly, we won't mix sections from the old SAT and the new SAT. The College Board directed colleges on this last summer. They said it isn't appropriate to mix old and new because the exams are different.

4. For the 2016-2017 application season, we aren't using essay scores.

We won't be using the essay score from the new SAT next year. It doesn't mean you should take a name during that portion of the exam since plenty of schools will be using it. In light of this, we won't be using the writing section of the ACT next year. 

Let me reiterate that my statement is about next year. This doesn't mean we won't ever use those sections.

5. Four hours doesn't overshadow four years.

At the end of the day, remember that the testing piece of your application is a four hour piece. It does not take precedence over the four (okay, 3.5) years of information in the rest of the file. Test scores are interesting and helpful, but they don't "make or break" the application.

What are your testing questions? Share them in the comments and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Keep in mind that we have Final Exercises this weekend and we are still working with the waiting list, so my replies might not be immediate.