You need a nearly perfect SAT or ACT score to get into an elite school. Nonsense! Top colleges are flooded with students having great standardized test scores. Once an applicant shows he or she is in the game, other evaluation factors take over.
When choosing between students from the same high school, the best all-around candidate will get the nod over the others. This is not necessarily true. Depending on the particular year and the profile of applicants, a particular candidate may be selected (over others) because of a unique interest, talent or demographic.
Colleges are favoring guys over gals to even up the balance. Be careful not to over-generalize. There are so many factors that go into admissions decision, and gender is one of many that may or may not tip the scales.
Colleges favor students who can pay tuition rather than obtain financial aid. For the most part, admissions decisions are made separately from financial aid decisions (i.e., need-blind admissions). This is sometimes true with transfers, however, depending on the college.