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.

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