Thursday, August 4, 2011

All About "Academic Index"

Although the Ivy League schools spent many years denying they used any kind of formula, they in fact have been using a ranking formula since the 1950’s called the Academic Index, AI for short. Dr. Michele Hernandez, in her book A is for Admission, was the first to reveal this formula to the public.

Though it has traditionally been used for sports purposes (maintaining some kind of academic standard on the various athletic teams), every Ivy League school still calculates an AI for every student. Why? Because the average AI of the athletic teams cannot be more than one standard deviation away from the average AI of the entire class, but the only way to know that is to calculate an AI for every student. Naturally since the number was so easy to generate, many schools began to print the number right on the front of every student’s folder and used it to help them rank a student academically.

Please understand that the AI is just a statistical tool – it does not take into account a student’s essays, teacher recommendations, outside achievements or awards. It merely chronicles the objective side of the equation, namely high school rank in class and standardized test scores.

In short, the AI is a formula that combines:

 the averages of student test scores (both SAT I’s and SAT II’s) and

 high school rank in class (represented by an Ivy League invention, the converted rank score or CRS).

The AI is represented on a scale of 1-240, with 240 being the highest. The approximate average of Ivy applicants is around 200 while the average AI of accepted students is closer to the 211 range.

Every school has a different method of computing rank so figuring out your own CRS may be hard. The most accurate way (and the preferred method) is to have an exact weighted rank. If your school provides rank, use the first part of the CRS input field. Next the formula turns to decile rankings (top 10%, top 20%), but be aware that the formula only approximates the MIDPOINT of the range, so anyone who enters only “top 10%” effectively gets counted as exactly 5% in the class hierarchy. Finally, if neither rank nor decile is available, the formula will take into account a GPA, but often that inflates the CRS and the ranking appears higher.

Obviously admissions offices that use the AI use it along with all the subjective information and make informed decisions about how to understand the most complex part of the formula, the CRS.

Why then does the AI matter? Most importantly, it will help you gage your chances for admission since there is a very high correlation between high AI’s and high acceptance rates.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

About the SAT II Subject Tests

Information provided by
An Achievement Test by any other name... The SAT II is a set of more than 20 different tests focusing on specific disciplines such as English, History and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Foreign Languages. Each Subject Test lasts one hour and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, except for the Writing Test, which has a 20-minute essay section in addition to a 40-minute multiple-choice section.
How Does the SAT II Differ from SAT I?
SAT I is largely a test of verbal and math skills. True, you need to know some vocabulary and some formulas for the SAT I, but it's designed to measure how well you read and think rather than what you know. The SAT II is very different. It's designed to measure what you know about specific disciplines. Sure, critical reading and thinking skills play a part on these tests, but their main purpose is to determine exactly what you know about writing, math, history, chemistry, and so on.
How Do Colleges Use the SAT II?
Many people will tell you that the SATs (I and II alike) measure only your ability to perform on standardized exams--that they measure neither your reading and thinking skills nor your level of knowledge. Maybe they're right. But these people don't work for colleges. Those schools that require SATs feel that they're an important indicator of your ability to succeed in college. Specifically, they use your scores in one or both of two ways:
• To help them make admissions decisions
• To help them make placement decisions
Like the SAT I , the SAT II: Subject Tests provide schools with a standard measure of academic performance, which they use to compare you to applicants from different high schools and different educational backgrounds. This information helps them to decide whether you're ready to handle their curriculum.
SAT II scores may also be used to decide what course of study is appropriate for you once you've been admitted. A low score on the Writing Test, for example, may mean that you have to take a remedial English course. Conversely, a high score on the Math Level IIC Test may mean that you'll be exempted from an introductory math course.

What SAT II Subject Tests Should I Take?
The simple answer is: Take the ones that you'll do well on. High scores, after all, can only help your chances for admission. Unfortunately, many colleges demand that you take particular tests, usually the Writing Test and/or one of the Math Tests. Some schools will give you some choice in the matter, especially if they want you to take a total of three Subject Tests. So, before you register to take any tests, check with colleges to find out exactly which tests they require. Don't rely on high school guidance counselors or admissions handbooks for this information. They might not give you accurate details.