How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

ACT/SAT Prep

Our counselors answered:

How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

It Depends!

Some schools are test optional -- which means that you do not need to submit test scores if you feel that test scores do not accurately reflect your academic abilities! For a list of test optional schools, please go to www.fairtest.org. Many public state schools weigh test scores quite heavily -- almost on par with grades in college prep courses! Still other schools -- really try to look at the totality of your application and view your test scores as just part of the entire picture.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Test Score Significance

Within the application, standardized scores are just another aspect used in creating a profile of the applicant. While some schools may place more weight on them than others, there is a growing list of colleges who have become test optional. If there is a discrepancy between course grades and test scores, the school may be looking for an explanation in the additional information section of the application. Never leave it to the imagination of the committee, address the issue up front and take ownership for your work. High school grades have been found to be a better predictor of success in college, so focus on doing your best in class and you will be rewarded.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

you can not get in without solid test scores for selective colleges

it really matters what type of schools you are applying, in general, selective colleges are very much focus on standardized test scores. it is the second most important evidences for the college to determine the successful rate of college graduation. other pieces of application such as transcript is the number fact in most cases.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Test Scores just a piece of college admissions puzzle

According counsellors at Edmond School District high schools, most college admissions focus on more than just exam scores before deciding who to accept. Mountlake Terrance and Edmonds-Woodway high schools offer websites, facebook pages and bulletin boards exclusively listing resources to guide student. Students have access to: ? Dates for when colleges are visiting ? Dates of application deadlines ? Links to scholarships ? Information about apprenticeships and the military ? Events to help students draft college admissions essay ? Dates for college exam Schools offer: ? PSAT ? A practice test for the SAT (juniors & sophomores) Erika Spellman, school –work coordinator at mountlake Terrence High school advises students to plan to take the SAT or ACT at least once during the spring of their junior year so they have time to prepare to test once more during the fall of senior year. On the West Coast, most colleges favour a holistic approach when sorting through applications, the counsellors agreed. Test Scores just a piece of college admissions puzzle According counsellors at Edmond School District high schools, most college admissions focus on more than just exam scores before deciding who to accept. Mountlake Terrance and Edmonds-Woodway high schools offer websites, facebook pages and bulletin boards exclusively listing resources to guide student. Students have access to: ? Dates for when colleges are visiting ? Dates of application deadlines ? Links to scholarships ? Information about apprenticeships and the military ? Events to help students draft college admissions essay ? Dates for college exam Schools offer: ? PSAT ? A practice test for the SAT (juniors & sophomores) Erika Spellman, school –work coordinator at mountlake Terrence High school advises students to plan to take the SAT or ACT at least once during the spring of their junior year so they have time to prepare to test once more during the fall of senior year. On the West Coast, most colleges favour a holistic approach when sorting through applications, the counsellors agreed.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Still One Important Piece of the Puzzle

Although more schools have joined the “test optional” movement, most colleges and universities continue to require standardized test scores, weighing scores equally along with grades, classes taken, activities, recommendations, essays, etc. Scores are only one piece of the application puzzle, but they are important—and in some situations, essential. Many state universities have automatic admissions standards that use a student’s class rank and scores to determine admission; in these cases, scores are 50% of the equation. Bottom line: Your standardized test scores should reflect your best effort, but don’t ignore the other elements of the application.

Rana Slosberg
Owner Slosberg College Solutions LLC

Standardized test scores

Standardized test scores are one of the top ten items that most colleges look for in an applicant. At many colleges, standardized test scores follow a rigorous high school curriculum and strong grades in importance. Having said this, students and parents should realize that a group of over 800 four-year colleges have gone test optional. Often these colleges want something submitted (e.g., a graded paper, an extra essay) in lieu of the SAT I or ACT scores.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

The rigor of your classes and your grades are the most important, but for the colleges that require the standardized tests, the scores are also very important. This does not mean they have a certain cut off, it is more holistic than that as they take all the information into consideration. The testing is the only common factor they have between all applicants, so it is useful to them and important to the extent that they deem it.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Tests - How important are they.

Most college admissions personnel will tell you that the most important part of your application is your transcript. What you have done over four years carries more weight than four hours on a Saturday. That being said some schools weigh test scores more heavily than others. Large state schools with many applicants may have a formula that they use. Test scores and grades may balance each other out i.e. higher grades could balance lower test scores. Very selective schools often have students with high test scores which makes the playing field even in that regard. Other parts of the application will make a student stand out. Then again quite a few schools are now test optional and look at other factors all together. Submitting test scores may be optional or the student can substitute other types of work in lieu of test scores. Francine Schwartz, M.A., LPC, NCC Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

The GPA on your transcript will always be the most important piece of information that colleges look at. That GPA and the grades you received over 4 years of work in high school tell colleges the most as to whether you will succeed at their school or not. The second most important piece of information is the strength of the courses that you take. Colleges really like to see that you took that next level course, if you could, if you did well in the previous course. SAT or ACT tests will be third in the order of importance. After the SAT's it really depends on the college. Some may put more weight on the essay or interview but that depends on the college. If athletics or a special activity are involved, that may affect the college's decision as well.

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

The standardized exams are typically a balance to the high school grades, rank and classes for schools that use an admission index to determine your probability of success in the first year at that college. Many colleges run a series of analyses that determine who students with certain scores from certain section of the ACT or SAT exam do at their respective school. For example, an engineering college at a particular school may know that 98% of the applicants with X score on the math section of the standardized test will be successful in completing their degree. Therefore, they will use that score cut off as one indication for admissibility to the school. However, simply because you achieved that cut off score does not mean you are admitted. Then the competitiveness of the application pool may cause you to fall out of the mix as well. These scores can also prove helpful for a college for course placement for their admitted student population as well. So you can see that the score are used in different ways and those ways vary by institution. Therefore, the scores are not less nor no more important that the grades, course selection, class rank or overall GPA. I would point out however, that these scores can be more important than the extra curricular activities list, your recommendations or your essay. Let's face it, the most important thing that an admissions office is trying to determine is your ability to handle the academics at their school. All the essays, activities and letters of recommendation are not going to out way a standardized test score or grades that indicated your inability to succeed at a particular college.