How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?
Standardized test scores are important because they provide colleges with a common standard by which to evaluate your achievement. There is no consistency in the ways teachers grade, so a B at one school might be an A at another; on the SAT or ACT, however, there's no possibility of inconsistent assessment. Standardized test scores are valuable tools for college admissions officers to use when evaluating applications, but they are only one piece of a larger picture of student achievement. Depending on where you apply, elements like the essay, teacher recommendations, extracurricular accomplishments, and creative portfolio will factor into the decision. High school grades remain the number one most important factor in college admissions. Strive to do well on the SAT or ACT, but even the best scores can't replace top grades earned in very rigorous classes.