In the Ivy League, the Academic Index is used to evaluate the academics of athletic recruits. The method of determining and interpreting the score is covered here. But what about a lopsided index score? If you have SAT scores of 720 math, 720 writing and 540 critical reading along with a 3.8 GPA, that comes out to an Academic Index score of around 213. A score of 213 puts you in the ‘pretty safe’ range by most standards. But what about that 540? Is that going to be a deal-breaker with admissions?
There are some firm rules and standards in athletic recruiting in the Ivy League. The AI floor of 176 is one of them. Recruits that score lower than that are not recruitable in the Ivies, and recruits even near that floor are very rare. The other firm rule is that the average AI of all athletes must fall within 1 standard deviation of the general student body at that school. After those 2 big rules, there is a lot of room for nuance depending on several factors.
How desirable are you as an athlete? How important is your sport to the school? What are the academics of other athletes with similar skills? Let’s take swimmers as an example. In my experience, there is a pretty deep pool of top tier swimmers with stellar academics. If a coach has a list of top national swimmers with SATs of 700+ across the board, then yes, that 540 in the above example may be a problem. On the other hand, if you are one of the premier recruits in a sport that tends to have fewer academic all-stars – that 540 probably won’t be an issue.
To look at it from the coach’s perspective – he needs to present you to admissions in the best possible light. He doesn’t want to lose a recruit in the LL evaluation process. Admissions, on the other hand, wants to make sure the athletes are representative of the student body. They don’t want to set up a student for failure because he can’t do the academic work. They aren’t doing the coach or the athlete any favors if they admit a recruit that is failing classes and has to drop athletics or drop out altogether.
So back to the 540. Technically you’re admissible. There will probably be some concerns. The end result will largely depend on the other recruits and how you compare to them athletically and academically.