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Ask Qimmah





If you have any questions about the application process, click here and ask. Answers will be on the page, and the ones that are most important, you will find below. 


Frequently Asked Question

Click on questions below to view answers

How do I gauge the academic reputation of universities and define my Safety, Probable, and Reach schools?

There are a variety of options. Rankings, school size, reputation. It also depends on your scores, usually you'd need above a 1250 SAT score (Math+Reading). 

Can you give me a balanced list of universities with Safety, Probable, and Reach?

The following are subjective lists based on score ranges:



Low Scores:


Safety: Arizona State University, University of Miami

Target: Penn State, UCI, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, UC Davis

Reach: Boston University, UIUC, University of Rochester


Medium Scores


Safety: Penn State, University of Colorado Bolder

Target: Boston University, UCSD, Northeastern, UW-Madison

Reach: UCLA, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, Vanderbilt University


High Scores

Safety: Penn State, UCI

Target: Georgia Tech, UCLA, USC , NYU

Reach: Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, UT Austin, Columbia

Don’t colleges look down upon taking the SAT a bunch of times? If so, is it a bad idea for me to take the test as a 9th or 10th grader?

First, admissions people recognize the date which the test is taken, so even if they do see all your scores, they realize and think “oh he’s just a 9th grader” and “oh she’s just a 10th grader”. They want to see how capable you are, which is going to be indicated by the highest scores. The objection universities had for the new Score Choice system (which you may not have had when applying) is that they didn’t want rich kids who could pay to take it every testing date have an advantage or students take an excessive number of tests. The ones that do use highest section or highest test date do so because (1) they don’t want to sit there looking at a ton of scores and (2) they want to you see your capability as a graduating senior, they don’t really care about how you did in 9th grade. This is reflected in the way we know they judge grades: if you improved significantly over the course of 4 years, that’s almost as valuable as getting straight A’s all 4 years, a phenomenon I’m sure you know of. Many colleges now are highest section on Score Choice:


  • MIT – highest section

  • Harvard – highest section

  • Yale – all

  • Stanford – all

  • Princeton – highest section

  • Cornell – all

  • Brown – highest section

  • Columbia – all

  • Johns Hopkins – highest section

  • University of Pennsylvania – all

  • Dartmouth – highest section

  • Rice – all

  • Urbana – highest section

  • University of Chicago – highest section

  • University of Michigan – highest section

  • Northwestern – highest section

  • Duke – highest section

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