It really boils down to this: “Or would it be worse if she retakes and gets a slightly higher essay score but her 1590 goes down?” Yes, it would be worse. She might receive a 1570 or 1580, which would be no harm, but it seems like an iffy bet to risk such an incredible SAT score. Her 5’s are not going to be that out of the norm. Some schools superscore, of course, but Stanford and Berkeley are examples of colleges that do not. Stanford is a special case because it does not even recognize Score Choice. They are going to see her 5/5/5 whether she repeats or not. If you were an admission officer, what would you think about a 1590 student who decides to retest? It certainly seems that she has more than enough to show that the Essay score does not define her. I would sit tight on the SAT and concentrate on Subject Tests, grades, and all of the other things she enjoys doing.
California has one of the best state university systems in the country, and three of the schools below made my list of top public universities . The nine universities that offer undergraduate degrees are listed here from the lowest to highest acceptance rate. Keep in mind that the acceptance rate isn't necessarily an accurate representation of selectivity. UCSD, for example, has a higher acceptance rate than UCSB, but it actually requires significantly higher grades and standardized test scores to get in. Follow the profile link to get data related to admission standards, costs, and financial aid.
Thanks for commenting! Most universities do look at this, especially in more “high-intensity” majors such as engineering. Since you provided the name of the major in question, I was able to find its specialized information on the website, along with the contact information for that department/major within UC Berkeley: http:///undergraduate/degree-programs/ancient-egyptian-near-eastern-art-archaeology/#contacts I would suggest that you contact the relevant department at UCB to get more detailed information on the matter — and thanks for reading! 🙂