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

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the experts. Here are their answers.

Andrew Hill

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.

Francine Schwartz Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

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.

Richard Napora College Consultant Clarus

It depends on the college. Some colleges, such as the University of California system and the California State University system use a formulaic approach that tends to be SAT or ACT heavy. Some campuses do not use the SAT or ACT scores at all in the process…and others use the scores as part of a holistic process that considers many factors. In general, many campuses consider standardized test scores as an affirmation of grades…because grades alone may not be entirely representative of achievement and/or potential. Students need to be aware of the average test score ranges of accepted students to particular colleges in which they are interested in order to apply wisely and broadly enough.

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