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?

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

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

It depends upon the college. It is true that scores are very, very important at some universities while other colleges use it as only one of many factors in the process.

Jeana Robbins
Counselor

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

This largely depends on where the student wants to attend college. Each school has a different idea of what constitutes an acceptable score. Community colleges don't usually require that students take these exams, and scores for students attending community or junior colleges matter very little. With that said, students planning to attend a community college should still take the SAT/ACT, as they may be required if and when the student transfers to a larger college to obtain a bachelors degree. The SAT/ACT scores are obviously important pieces in the application, however, I believe that many times, students stress on significance of these scores, and overlook other vital components which could compensate for less than perfect scores.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

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

Nothing induces greater fear among college applicants than standardized tests and yet increasingly they are less about the applicant than about the school's interests. Does a 20 point SAT difference mean one student is more ready for college than another? Of course not, but the higher average will make for better marketing on the school’s end. Ultimately, if a school requires standardized tests then the higher your scores are the better, and while they are often used to make determinations about merit scholarship awards, past a certain level they say little about your preparation for college. Admittedly high score can torpedo your application laic if your grades do not measure up, for there are few things worse than beings seen as an underachiever. In the end however, standardized test scores are simply one of the many factors that schools consider while making decisions that best serve their institutional interests.

Nina Sculler
Director College Prep

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

That depends on the college. It is important that you ask that when visiting or interviewing at a school. There are schools that do not look at scores for the purpose of admissions. a list of these schools may be found online at www.fairtest.org.

Ted Skowron
Counselor Brophy College Preparatory

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

The three biggest variables for admission are your course of studies (honors, A.P., I.B.), your grade point average, and your standardized test scores. After that, teacher recommendations, your personal statement, and activities come into consideration.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

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

That depends on the admissions criteria at each university or college - did you know there are over 15 categories? Students are presented this information when they work with our office!

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

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

The significance of standardized test scores varies from university to university. At the highest level, great standardized test scores may have less weight than you imagine (for example, students with perfect SAT scores are denied admission to Harvard). More broadly, most colleges and universities agree that academic performance in high school is a stronger prediction of academic success than standardized test scores. Standardized test scores enable colleges and universities to compare students from different high schools. This is particularly important given the high variability in course offerings and grading.

Amberley Wolf
College Consultant Wolf College Consulting

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

Most colleges would agree that the importance of test scores is not as important as your GPA, academic course load and class rank. Some colleges are test optional colleges and you can submit your test scores only if you want to (or if you believe it will help your Admissions Profile look stronger). Although test scores are important and many colleges look at test scores above extracurricular activities and essays, it is more important to keep your grades up and take a rigorous course load. If you have strong test scores but weak grades, the Admissions Office will assume that you do not work up to your potential and this can hurt your file. In other words, make your grades a priority, but work hard to make sure your test scores reflect your potential as well.

Renee Boone
The College Advisor

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

Although many colleges are joining the ranks of Test Optional (allowing students to submit material and information in lieu of test scores), most colleges and universities that you will consider still require standardized test scores. For many, these scores are second to grade point average in selection factors, but for some (particularly the private colleges), a more holistic evaluation will weigh the test scores in context with the rigor of your high school courses, the strength of your academic performance, the depth and focus of your involvement in non-academic activities and the character you have developed over the high school years. It would be a mistake to think that test scores do not matter, so prepare well, do your best and find a college that will appreciate you for who you are and what your experience has been.

Andrew Hill

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

Standardized test scores are important because they are a standardized measure that all students can be compared to. With that said, that is what they are, Know the school you are going to, know their score range, and do your best to do well on standardized tests. Yet, it is also just one part of the admissions application that helps compare you in a quantitative way to other students. Make sure not to only focus on the SAT or ACT and forget about the other things in life such as student organizations and clubs, sports, and jobs, volunteer work, and all other aspects of life that represent you as an individual and student. Someone who isn't just a number but a complex individual.