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Appendix to “Philosophy Majors & High Standardized Test Scores: Not Just Correlation”


This is an appendix containing the data and sources used in the post, “Philosophy Majors & High Standardized Test Scores: Not Just Correlation,” by Thomas Metcalf, published on July 14, 2021.

Appendix

General comment: All of this is from an Excel spreadsheet. I’ve double checked my data entry but it’s possible I’ve made a few typos. When in doubt, check my sources and enter your own calculations.

Table A.1: Contributions versus ACT 2016

In each row, each cell other than titles represents the number of percentage-points that majoring in that program seems to contribute (versus ACT 2016) toward some effect, either a test score or whether one is admitted to postgraduate study, versus the average among the other majors listed here.

Program To GRE V To GRE QR To GRE W To LSAT To law-school admit rate To GMAT To med-school admit rate
Arts: V&P +5.37pp +3.04pp +8.33pp +5.27pp +11.05pp -1.62pp N/A
Business -1.26pp +0.37pp +0.20pp +1.17pp +2.13pp -6.83pp N/A
Comm. -2.22pp -4.52pp +2.08pp -2.44pp -5.66pp -4.70pp N/A
Education +2.40pp -0.55pp +7.37pp +2.83pp -2.49pp -5.87pp N/A
Engineering -12.69pp -8.06pp -13.69pp -7.75pp -7.31pp -1.05pp N/A
English & foreign lang. -8.42pp -14.96pp +5.72pp -9.65pp -4.10pp -7.43pp +11.34pp
Health sciences -0.48pp -2.78pp +7.32pp -0.62pp -10.97pp -0.90pp -+4.92pp
P&R +4.29pp -1.61pp +19.09pp +2.60pp +6.75pp +9.14pp +33.21pp
Sciences: bio. & phys. -10.96pp -11.24pp -10.06pp -11.12pp -6.15pp -8.08pp -5.44pp
Soc. sci. & law -0.40pp -2.73pp +8.23pp -1.67pp -6.77pp +0.92pp +30.03pp
Average contribution -1.21pp -2.65pp +3.45pp -2.14pp -2.35pp -2.64pp +14.81pp
P&R vs. avg contribution +5.49pp +1.03pp +15.63pp +4.74pp +9.10pp +11.78pp +18.40pp
P&R rank out of 10 2 3 1 3 2 1 1

Comments:

  1. See Tables A.6-A.10 for sources.
  2. Here, the “pp” sign means percentage-points. “Comm.” means “Communications.” “P&R” means “philosophy and religion” or “philosophy, religion, and theology.” “N/A” means the data weren’t available.
  3. The penultimate row indicates by how many percentage points philosophy-and-religion outperform the average contribution across the listed majors. The last row indicates philosophy-and-religion’s rank out of the ten majors listed here.
  4. Average contributions can be negative because not all majors are listed here. The “average” is not an average of the data on the lists of the majors I present, but the data across all test-takers, including majors that aren’t listed here.
  5. The sources I found that claimed to present the overall rate generally presented the overall law-school admission rate (i.e. what percentage of applicants enrolled) or averaged admission rates across schools rather than across majors. So those didn’t cohere with my source for the individual admission rates; but if you look at that source, and laboriously enter the eighty-or-so most-populous majors and their corresponding data, you can estimate an overall acceptance rate of around 74.30%. That’s what I did. It doesn’t make a huge difference because we’re still comparing all these majors to the same average and measuring the relative contribution, but it helps when we want to estimate magnitudes.
  6. For GMAT data, replace “visual and performing arts” with “fine arts,” “communications” with “journalism,” “health sciences” with “medicine/nursing”; and “physical sciences” with “the average of biology, chemistry, and physics.” The latter is not weighted by population, since I didn’t have those data available. Still, since physics tends to outperform biology and chemistry in these sorts of tests, yet comprise far fewer majors, this helps “physical sciences” versus the average and correspondingly harms “philosophy and religion” in relative terms.
  7. For med-school admission rate, replace “health sciences” with “the average of the scores of biology and biochemistry,” replace “physical sciences” with “the average of the scores of chemistry and physics,” replace “English and foreign languages” with “English,” replace “social sciences” with “history,” and replace “philosophy and religion” with “philosophy.” I grant that this may distort the results, so I don’t put a lot of weight on these data. 
  8. Here and throughout, numbers may not all add up exactly right, since I’m cutting off some digits.

Table A.2: Contributions versus SAT 2016 Subscores

Program GRE VR vs. SAT R GRE QR vs. SAT M GRE W vs. SAT W
Arts: V&P -0.43pp +2.82pp +3.30pp
Business +0.26pp +0.13pp +1.09pp
Comm. -3.79pp +0.72pp -0.22pp
Education +2.43pp +2.56pp +7.04pp
Engineering -6.88pp -8.07pp -6.52pp
English -11.93pp -4.85pp +3.59pp
Foreign languages -8.15pp -4.26pp +4.69pp
Health sciences +1.82pp +0.85pp +8.84pp
Phil, relig, theol -3.71pp -3.04pp +13.33pp
Sciences: bio -6.50pp -6.30pp +1.92pp
Sciences: phys -12.90pp -10.04pp -9.91pp
Soc. sci & law -11.56pp -7.61pp -2.22pp
Average -5.11pp -3.09pp +2.08pp
P&R vs. average +1.40pp +0.05pp +11.26pp
P&R rank out of 12 5 6 1

Note: See Table A.4 for sources.

Table A.3: Contributions versus SAT 2016 Comprehensive Scores

Program LSAT 2018-20 vs. SAT C Law school 2018-20 vs SAT C GMAT 2008-12 vs SAT C Med school 1998 vs SAT C
Arts: V&P +1.50pp +7.28pp -5.25pp N/A
Business +1.74pp +2.71pp -6.12pp N/A
Comm. -2.05pp -5.66pp -4.17pp N/A
Education +3.67pp -1.65pp -4.90pp N/A
Engineering -3.54pp -3.10pp +3.31pp N/A
English & foreign languages -7.54pp -2.00pp -5.17pp +13.60pp
Health sciences +1.75pp -8.60pp +1.61pp +7.43pp
Phil, relig, theol -2.56pp +1.59pp +4.12pp +28.20pp
Sciences: bio & phys -5.40pp -0.43pp -2.21pp +0.42pp
Soc. sci & law -10.60pp -15.70pp -7.86pp +21.25pp
Average -2.30pp -2.52pp -2.67pp +14.18pp
P&R vs. avg -0.25pp +4.11pp +6.79pp +14.02pp
P&R rank out of 10 5 3 1 1

Notes:

  1. See Tables A.6, A.8, A.9, and A.10 for sources.
  2. For GMAT data, replace “visual and performing arts” with “fine arts,” “communications” with “journalism,” “health sciences” with “medicine/nursing”; and “physical sciences” with “the average of biology, chemistry, and physics.” The latter is not weighted by population, since I didn’t have those data available. Still, since physics tends to outperform biology and chemistry in these sorts of tests, yet comprise far fewer majors, this helps “physical sciences” versus the average and correspondingly harms “philosophy and religion” in relative terms.
  3. For med-school admission rate, replace “health sciences” with “the average of the scores of biology and biochemistry,” replace “physical sciences” with “the average of the scores of chemistry and physics,” replace “English and foreign languages” with “English,” replace “social sciences” with “history,” and replace “philosophy and religion” with “philosophy.” I grant that this may distort the results, so I don’t put a lot of weight on these data.

Table A.4: GRE Contributions versus SAT Subscores

Program SAT R/avg SAT M/avg SAT W/avg To GRE VR To GRE QR To GRE W
Arts: V&P 1.02 0.97 1.02 -0.43pp +2.82pp +3.30pp
Business 1.00 1.02 1.01 +0.26pp +0.13pp +1.09pp
Comm. 1.04 0.98 1.05 -3.79pp +0.72pp -0.22pp
Education 0.98 0.94 0.98 +2.43pp +2.56pp +7.04pp
Engineering 1.07 1.13 1.06 -6.88pp -8.07pp -6.52pp
English & foreign languages 1.17 1.03 1.16 -11.93pp -4.85pp +3.59pp
Health sciences 0.98 0.97 0.98 +1.82pp +0.85pp +8.84pp
Phil, relig, theol 1.10 1.03 1.08 -3.71pp -3.04pp +13.33pp
Sciences: bio 1.09 1.07 1.09 -6.50pp -6.30pp +1.92pp
Sciences: phys 1.14 1.15 1.12 -12.90pp -10.04pp -9.91pp
Soc. sci & law 1.14 1.07 1.13 -11.56pp -7.61pp -2.22pp
Average 1 1 1 -5.11pp -3.09pp +2.08pp

Comments:

  1. See Tables A.6 and A.7 for sources.
  2. The left three data columns are percentages (i.e. “1.02” = 102%); the right three report percentage points.
  3. Average contributions can be negative because not all majors are listed.
  4. Given what we would expect from the SAT, P&R make an average contribution to verbal reasoning, a slightly better-than-average contribution to quantitative reasoning, and an enormous contribution (13.33pp vs. the average of 2.08pp) to writing.

Table A.5: LSAT, GMAT, and MCAT Contributions vs. SAT Comprehensive

Program SAT C/avg Contribution to LSAT Contribution to law-school admit rate Contribution to GMAT Contribution to med-school admit rate
Arts: V&P 1.00 +1.50pp +7.28pp -5.25pp N/A
Business 1.01 +1.74pp +2.71pp -6.12pp N/A
Comm. 1.02 -2.05pp -5.27pp -4.17pp N/A
Education 0.97 +3.67pp -1.65pp -4.90pp N/A
Engineering 1.09 -3.54pp -3.54pp +3.31pp N/A
English & foreign languages 1.11 -7.54pp -8.60pp -5.17pp +13.60pp
Health sciences 0.98 +1.75pp -8.60pp +1.61pp +7.43pp
Phil, relig, theol 1.07 -2.56pp +1.59pp +4.12pp +28.20pp
Sciences: bio & phys 1.09 -5.40pp +1.59pp -2.21pp +0.42pp
Soc. sci & law 1.11 -10.60pp -15.70pp -7.86pp +21.25pp
Average 1 -2.30pp -2.52pp -2.67pp +14.18pp

Comments:

  1. See Tables A.6, A.8, A.9, and A.10 for sources. Some calculations may appear slightly off because I’ve cut off some digits; the spreadsheets I used have cells with typically 5-7 significant digits.
  2. See especially Table A.10 for how to read the “med school” column.
  3. Division by averages yields percentages (i.e. 1.08 = 108%); “contributions” are in percentage points.
  4. As before, average contribution can be negative because not all majors are listed.
  5. Given SAT results, P&R make an average contribution to the LSAT, a much-better-than-average (+4.12pp vs. -2.67pp) contribution to the GMAT, and philosophy makes a much-better-than-average contribution to med-school admission.

Table A.6: ACT and SAT Data

Program ACT Comp ACT/avg SAT Comp SAT Comp;/avg SAT R SAT R/avg SAT Math SAT QR/avg SAT W SAT W/avg
Arts: V&P 20.1 0.97 1490 1.00 506 1.02 492 0.97 490 1.02
Business 21.2 1.02 1504 1.01 496 1.00 519 1.02 487 1.01
Comm. 21.4 1.03 1521 1.02 516 1.04 496 0.98 507 1.05
Education 20.3 0.98 1436 0.97 482 0.98 480 0.94 472 0.98
Engineering 23.5 1.13 1614 1.09 528 1.07 574 1.13 510 1.06
English & foreign languages 23.5 1.13 1656 1.11 576 1.17 521 1.03 557 1.16
Health sciences 20.9 1.00 1456 0.98 485 0.98 492 0.97 477 0.99
Phil, relig, theol 21.2 1.02 1589 1.07 543 1.10 525 1.03 519 1.08
Sciences: bio  23.9 1.15 1607 1.08 536 1.09 545 1.07 524 1.09
Sciences: phys 23.9 1.15 1687 1.13 561 1.14 584 1.15 540 1.12
Soc. sci & law 21.3 1.02 1652 1.11 561 1.14 545 1.07 544 1.13
Average across all test-takers 20.8 1 1486 1 494 1 508 1 482 1

Note: ACT data for natural sciences are combined, so I just repeated them. SAT data are separate for biological vs. physical. Source here.

Table A.7: GRE Data

Program GRE VR GRE VR/avg GRE QR GRE QR/avg GRE W GRE W/avg
Arts: V&P 153 1.02 152 1.00 3.7 1.05
Business 151 1.01 156 1.02 3.6 1.02
Comm. 151 1.01 150 0.98 3.7 10.5
Education 150 1.00 148 0.97 3.7 1.05
Engineering 150 1.00 160 1.05 3.5 0.99
English & foreign languages 156.8 1.05 149.5 0.98 4.18 1.19
Health sciences 150 1.00 149 0.98 3.8 1.08
Phil, relig, theol 159.3 1.06 153.0 1.00 4.3 1.21
Sciences: bio & phys 156.0 1.04 158.1 1.04 3.70 1.05
Soc. sci & law 153 1.02 152 1.00 3.9 1.11
Average across all test-takers 150.37 1 153.39 1 3.58 1

Note: I combined data for “English” and “foreign languages” (weighted by population) which is why those averages aren’t whole numbers. The same goes for P&R and for biological and physical sciences. ACT source here. SAT source here. GRE source here.

Table A.8: LSAT and Admission Rate

Program Average score LSAT/avg Admission Rate Rate/avg
Arts (V&P) 153.86 1.02 80.00% 1.08
Business 155.66 1.03 77.31% 1.04
Communications 151.66 1.00 72.23% 0.97
Education 151.64 1.00 70.66% 0.95
Engineering 158.89 1.05 78.51% 1.06
English & foreign lang. 156.03 1.03 80.89% 1.09
Health sciences 150.78 1.00 66.50% 0.90
Philosophy and religion 157.82 1.05 80.78% 1.09
Sciences (bio & phys.) 156.7 1.04 80.80% 1.09
Social science 152.1 1.01 71.05% 0.96
Average across all test-takers 150.99 1.02 74.30% 1.00

Table A.9: GMAT

Program Average score GMAT/avg
Fine Arts 503.2 0.95
Business (Actuarial Science, Finance, International) 503.6 0.95
Journalism 520 0.98
Education 485.8 0.92
Engineering 592.8 1.12
English & foreign languages 559 1.06
Medicine/Nursing 527.4 1.00
Phil, relig, theol (philosophy) 588.2 1.11
The average of biology, chemistry, and physics 565.74 1.07
Soc. sci & law 547.2 1.03
Average across all applicants 529.6 1

Table A.10: Med School Admit Rate

Program Rate Rate/avg
English 46% 1.24
The average of the scores of biology and biochemistry 39% 1.05
Philosophy 42% 1.35
The average of the scores of chemistry and physics 40.5% 1.09
History 49% 1.11
Average across all applicants 37% 1

Main Data Sources

SAT scores: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_226.30.asp

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