What Are SAT Subject Tests?

Since the end of the school year is fast approaching, as are the deadlines for signing up for the May and June SATs, we wanted to remind people what the SAT Subject Tests are and which colleges require them. We’ve previously posted this article but consider this topic especially relevant at this time of year. Enjoy!

What Are SAT Subject Tests?

You may or may not be aware that College Board offers SAT Subject Tests. These are short, one-hour exams that test your knowledge in specific areas. We’ve compiled a table of every Subject Test offered below:

Math Level 1 Math Level 2
US History World History
Biology Chemistry
Physics Literature
Spanish French
Chinese Italian
German Hebrew
Latin Japanese

As you can see, there are quite a few Subject Tests available to you that cover a wide variety of topics. In terms of content, you can think of these Subject Tests as mini AP Exams. The two exams cover essentially the same material, but Subject Tests are only one hour long each, compared to the behemoths that are AP exams.

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2016 (Unofficial) National Merit Commended Cutoff Score is Out!

Now that we know this year’s (unofficial) National Merit Commended cutoff score is a 209, we wanted to take a look back at how we did, and what this means for our Semifinalist predictions. To clarify, while the NMSC has not officially posted this score on their website, we have had multiple reports from parents and students who have contacted NMSC directly. Until further notice, we will proceed with this score in mind as the (unofficial) Commended student cutoff score.

How did we do?

Taking a look back at our Updated PSAT Cutoffs post, our range for Commended was between a 200-210, but more importantly, our estimate for North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming were 210’s. Historically, these states’ NMSF scores have generally coincided with the national Commended cutoff, and with only a 1-point difference between the two, it seems that our model is performing quite well. This bodes well for the rest of our predictions, which we hope will prove to be accurate once the official NMSF cutoff scores are announced.

What does this Commended score mean for students?

Firstly, it’s important to note that while the ND, SD, WV, and WY scores have historically lined up with the national Commended cutoff score, this is by no means a guarantee that any of these states’ NMSF cutoffs will be a 209. If you look at the historical data, these scores have shown subtle fluctuations, so we cannot say for certain that a 209 will be the exact National Merit Semi-finalist cutoff for these states.

It’s also interesting to note that College Board has essentially confirmed a tighter grouping of National Merit scores when compared to previous years’. When constructing our predictions, many posters expressed a concern we initially had as well, that the estimated cutoffs seem to be fairly high and tightly grouped. Consider last year’s Commended, a 202 out of 240, compared to this year’s scores of 209 out of 228. When looking at these numbers, it may seem that this year’s test must have been easier, since the cutoff score is higher, but that’s not necessarily true! Since the entire scoring system has been changed, it’s not fair to directly compare cutoff scores, as College Board may have changed the raw score to scaled score conversion on their backend to reflect the new update.

Finally, as always, though this news suggests our methodology is overall performing well in terms of predictive power and accuracy, we must stress that our predictions are by no means definitive. While we hope our numbers will line up well with the official cutoffs, states’ cutoff scores do display minor fluctuations from year to year, so the official score required for National Merit Semifinalist may be slightly higher or slightly lower than our predictions. Once the official NMSF numbers are released by the NMSC, we’ll be sure to perform an analysis and debrief to see how we fared in the big leagues!

Registration Deadline Reminder! Sign up for the SAT and ACT!

As summer is fast approaching, we at College Compass wanted to remind you of the upcoming SAT and ACT test dates!

SAT Test Date Regular Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
5/7/16 4/8/16 4/22/16
6/4/16 5/5/16 5/20/16

You can register for the SAT exam here!

ACT Test Date Regular Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
6/11/16 5/6/16 5/20/16

You can register for the ACT exam here!

Continue reading “Registration Deadline Reminder! Sign up for the SAT and ACT!” »

What Colleges and Universities SuperScore the SAT?

Today we list out the popular universities that SuperScore!
Today we list out the popular universities that SuperScore!

For those unfamiliar with SuperScoring, this is the term given when colleges take the highest SAT section scores across multiple sittings and combine them into a single composite score. Not all universities SuperScore, and indeed most do not, but we went ahead and compiled a list of the most popular schools that do, pulling from the official College Board publication on the matter.

Disclaimer: We are providing this information using the most up-to-date material out there, but given the plasticity of college admissions and the alacrity with which schools change their policies given such matters, we recommend students and parents check directly with a school, either over the phone or through an official school website, to ensure that the information presented is accurate. Further, we selected only the most popular schools and universities, so an exclusion from our chart does not necessarily mean that school does not SuperScore.

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What is a Good Score on the New SAT?

Presenting the SAT Score Range Chart, by University.

Editor’s Note: We have updated our information given College Board’s most recent publications. Check out our most up to date predictions here!

Today is the first iteration of the new SAT exam; hundreds of thousands of students across the country are currently working through the redesigned SAT in hopes of scoring well enough to secure a spot at their first choice college. But what kind of score will be that be?

Today we'll demystify the New SAT score with our list of estimated score ranges for over 200 colleges and universities!
Today we’ll demystify the New SAT score with our list of estimated score ranges for over 200 colleges and universities!

The March 5th SAT results are not likely to be released until the middle of May, presumably to allow College Board the opportunity finalize their score conversions and concordance table. This gives students plenty of time to agonize and worry about their scores. Questions will abound – Did I do well? What does this score mean? Will this score get me into the colleges I want to go to? Do I need tot take the SAT again? What is a good score on the new SAT?

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5 Things College Freshmen Should Know

Since many of you have admissions offers in hand and are nervously awaiting the beginning of your first year in college, we at College Compass put together a list of 5 Things College Freshmen Should Know

  1. Sleep is the most valuable resource in college. 8 AM classes are the antithesis of sleep. Don't take 8 AM classes.
    Sleep is the most valuable resource in college. 8 AM classes are the antithesis of sleep. Don’t take 8 AM classes.

    Don’t schedule 8 AM classes. You think that because high school starts at 7:25 AM that you’ll be able to wake up for an 8 AM lecture course. You’re wrong. Just trust me on this one. About two weeks into college, you’ll develop College Student Syndrome which has the debilitating effect of not being able to wake up earlier than 10 AM on any given day. Seriously, just trust us on this one because if you don’t, you’ll curse your past self because you really needed that extra hour of sleep. Continue reading “5 Things College Freshmen Should Know” »

Will a Bad AP Score Sink My Application?

Fear not, a single "bad" AP exam won't sink your Ivy League dreams!
Fear not, a single “bad” AP exam won’t sink your Ivy League dreams!

We get this question a lot here at College Compass: “I got a 1/2/3 on an AP test! Do I still have a chance at Harvard?!” Though you might be panicking or worried that your Ivy Dreams are now toast, fear not! A single “bad” AP score won’t sink your application, but low AP scores definitely should not be a trend.

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UPDATE: What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016?

We want to provide an update on our previous post: What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016? Our initial estimations were based on a “sliding scale” method. Because the National Merit Scholarship Corporation is not using your PSAT score (i.e. the score ranging from 320 to 1520) and is instead converting to a Selection Index Score which ranges from 48-228, we made those estimations with the mindset that the choice to use a convoluted Selection Index was so that these scores could more easily be compared to previous PSAT scores. The maximum Selection Index Score is only 12 points fewer than the previous maximum score, therefore it is reasonable to expect cutoff scores to be shifted by this amount.

Additionally, we have just computed a new set of Projected Cutoff Scores based on College Board’s Concordance table. Continue reading “UPDATE: What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016?” »

What Extracurriculars Do Ivy League Schools Like Harvard Want?


Harvard University
Interested in attending Harvard or an Ivy League? Fear not about your extracurriculars!

We recently stumbled upon a series the New York Times did with the Harvard University Dean of Admissions in 2009. You can read the full interview here, but there were a few paragraphs that stood out to us that we wanted to share with y’all.


When students ask about how to get into Harvard or a similar Ivy-League school, they’re undoubtedly told to excel academically but also to make sure to be “well-rounded” and to “stand out” with extracurriculars and leadership abilities. With so many admissions committee members and school counselors advising students to be well-rounded, the term seems to have lost some meaning. In describing his thoughts on well-roundedness and extracurriculars, Dean Fitzsimmons notes: Continue reading “What Extracurriculars Do Ivy League Schools Like Harvard Want?” »