Spark Admissions Blog

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How Important Are My SAT or ACT Scores?

July 16, 2013
Written by Rachel B. Rubin

In fact, a 2012 study that I recently completed asked Dean of Admissions at selective colleges exactly those questions. What I found was that, by and large, SAT and ACT scores are much less important than they once were. In fact, my study found that only four percent of highly selective colleges and universities look at standardized test scores before other variables when they receive an application for admission.

Why is that? There are three main reasons.

Admissions offices now realize that:

  1. Standardized tests are a poor indicator of how well students will perform in college.
  2. Students who have the money to take SAT/ACT prep courses traditionally do better on them, so it's not "fair" for lower-income students to put too much weight on these scores.
  3. Many students who apply to an individual college have relatively similar SAT/ACT scores. This lack of score variation makes colleges more inclined to focus on other academic factors to judge academic performance.

As a result, SAT and ACT scores are less important than most people believe. This is unfortunate for students who get near-perfect scores, because these scores will not guarantee their acceptance into the college of their choice. However, this is good news for students who did not score as well as they would have liked!

It's also helpful to remember that even though SATs and ACTs are less important than in the past, they are certainly not inconsequential. Thus, if you have not taken your SAT or ACT yet, you should figure out what test(s) to take (e.g., SAT I, SAT II, ACT), how many times to take each test, and how to prepare. Make a comprehensive plan, and stick to it!

If you need guidance developing a testing plan, click here to set up a free phone consultation.