In the final 'shaping' of an incoming class, academic standards give way to other, more ambiguous factors. "The admissions process at such schools is shrouded in secrecy and surrounded by confusion. From the outside, how top-ranked schools rate applicants seems precise enough to land someone on the moon. When you're a high-school senior (or the parent of one), it feels like another 10 points on the SAT or one extra AP course can tip the scales." But, as Jeffrey Selingo finds out in The Wall Street Journal, things are actually not that straightforward.