You could potentially go through the entire Ivy League recruiting process and never hear a coach mention the Academic Index. But from the coach’s perspective, it’s a ‘make or break’ number. It’s a little like an academic credit rating – three different coaches could calculate yours and everyone would end up with slightly different number.
The Academic Index is calculated by using your SAT scores, GPA and SAT II subject test scores. Each component is worth up to 80 points (so a perfect AI would be 240.)
Take the average of your SAT writing score and your SAT Critical Reading score, add that number to your SAT math score and divide the total by 20. So if our hypothetical student Todd scored a 680 Writing, a 700 CR and a 720 math – his academic index number for this portion would be 70.5.
Grade Point Average
The university has a conversion table to convert grade point average to an Academic Index number. The conversion can handle any conceivable grading scale, weighted or unweighted. A couple examples:
3.5 (out of 4.0) unweighted yields 73 AI points,
3.7 weighted is 71 points
3.0 unweighted is worth 67 points
So let’s say Todd has a 3.3 on an unweighted 4.0 scale, that gives him 70 AI points. Until 2012, class rank was the preferred method to calculate this portion. Since more schools are getting away from ranking, plus it penalizes athletes coming from academically elite high schools – the Ivy League is now using GPA instead of rank.
SAT II Subject Tests
This is calculated the same way as Part I. Add your 2 best SAT II subject tests together and divide that total by 20. Todd scored a 640 in Spanish and a 680 in Biology so he got 66 Academic Index points out of this part.
So Todd’s Academic Index score is 206.5
If the student hasn’t taken the SAT II, the index can be calculated by doubling the SAT I score calculated in Part I. If you have an ACT composite score but no SAT yet, there is a conversion table for that, too.
Calculating Academic Index using ACT Scores
You can get a pretty accurate quick conversion by multiplying the ACT composite by 2.23 to get the approximate AI points. So a perfect 36 gives 80 AI points, a 26 would mean 59 points. Or you can convert the ACT to SAT using a concordance table and calculate the Academic Index using the converted SAT score.
You can see that the AI, like a credit score, can vary a little bit depending on the data that’s used to calculate it. It’s also been reported that a student coming from a particularly rigorous school, or one that’s known for grade deflation – may get a couple of extra AI points. So get out your transcript and test scores and run the numbers to see where you stand. Next I’ll talk about how schools in the Ivy League use the Academic Index and where you want to be as a potential recruit in the Ivy League.
Update: Here is an academic index calculator that reflects the changes in the way the index is calculated in 2012. It’s an editable spreadsheet – feel free to use it.