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How important are SAT scores to colleges?

mandypandymandypandy Posts: 631Registered User Member
edited March 2011 in SAT Preparation
I've recently heard that some colleges are putting less and less emphasis on SAT scores and that even some colleges have made it optional to send SAT scores (like Bates). So, if you don't do that well on the SAT, will it really hurt your chances of being accepted to a college?
Post edited by mandypandy on

Replies to: How important are SAT scores to colleges?

  • nitnatnitnat Posts: 225Registered User Junior Member
    I have to honestly say I believe the schools look at the students GPA and how involeved thatbstudent is in high school. My kid didn't have amazing SAT scores yet she has been accreted so far to all schools she has allied to
  • GoodScoresGoodScores Posts: 100Registered User Junior Member
    Coming from somebody who has talked to college admissions workers about this issue, the SAT is not as important as everyone thinks it is. One indication of this is that most colleges don't even look at the writing section of the SAT anymore. Also, the ranges of most high-level schools are so broad that the most important thing for an applicant is GPA and hard classes.
  • Apoc314Apoc314 Posts: 1,203Registered User Senior Member
    It depends on what you mean by not doing that well. The SAT/ACT is still an important factor for most schools in admission. Even schools like Wake Forest that make the SAT test optional will still welcome your scores, and if your scores are great then they will help you in admissions. You don't need to have a 2300+ to be competitive for some of the top schools, but a 2000 SAT score will make it somewhat difficult to get admitted to a Top 20 university if one is unhooked.
  • WedgeDawgWedgeDawg Posts: 354Registered User Member
    Some are test optional, like Wake Forest, while others place a good deal of emphasis on standardized tests. However, they should not be discounted as your chance of admission to colleges rises with SAT score and a low score can definitely keep you out of many universities. It depends on where you're applying.

    Edit: Lol I like how we both chose Wake Forest as our example
  • Apoc314Apoc314 Posts: 1,203Registered User Senior Member
    With all this being said, the transcript is still the most important factor for admission, but low SAT scores can make it substantially harder to gain admission to some of the most selective universities.

    Fun Fact: I actually visited Wake Forest last summer and that's how I found out more about their admission process, including their test optional policy.
  • fignewtonfignewton Posts: 1,412Registered User Senior Member
    GoodScores wrote:
    One indication of this is that most colleges don't even look at the writing section of the SAT anymore.

    Really? What is your source for this information? (I.e., did you really check with 50+% of all colleges?) If true, it would be surprising, since of the three scores from the SAT, the writing score is the most predictive of first-year college grades.
  • jeandevachesjeandevaches Posts: 31Registered User Junior Member
    As most people have said, GPA is the most important factor, but the SAT is the second-most important factor. The reason the SAT/ACT gets so much hype is because it's universal and objective, so it provides a means of distinguishing between someone who got a 4.0 at a failing inner city school where they dominated the competition and someone who got a 4.0 at a nationally ranked prep school or magnet school. It also gets a lot of attention because unlike your GPA, which is mostly fixed by your senior year, SAT/ACT is still within your control.
  • Got2BeGreenGot2BeGreen Posts: 497Registered User Member
    @fignewton: I've also heard the writing section isn't (or, I should say, wasn't) highly valued by lots of colleges. Here are some sources:

    Admissions Officials Shrug at SAT Writing Test - US News and World Report

    Many colleges ignore SAT writing test, frustrating high school students. - The Boston Globe

    How do Colleges View New SAT Writing Section? - Ask The Dean

    Maybe that's changing now. It makes sense that colleges would want a track record with the new section before they give it any weight in the admission process.
  • ApTesterApTester Posts: 310Registered User Junior Member
    I'm fairly confident that a high SAT will definitely help push you above the competition. Especially when applying to public universities such as UC's which gets a high volume of applicants.

    I'm surprised by the amount of negativity towards the SAT/ACT now-a-days, since it really is the only means of standardizing everyone across the board. Everyone (basically) takes the same test.

    Other factors such as GPA can be heavily influenced by the school's course offerings, difficulty of teachers and fellow competition.

    I'm not claiming that the SAT is as important as the GPA, but it is a crucial part of the application which completes the applicant. Furthermore, GPA should be taken in context of the school and compared to only other students in the graduating class.
  • HazelCapriHazelCapri Posts: 173Registered User Junior Member
    regarding the writing section: yes, four/five years ago when the section was just added to the SAT colleges did not place as much weight on it as it did the other sections, which logical, considering that they needed time to assess the relevance and predictive power of the section on the academic success of the admitted students. it holds much more power nowadays than it did when it was first introduced.

    the SAT is important. it's one test taken in one day that's weighted nearly as heavily as the GPA that was accumulated over a period over three and half years. also, it depends on the college in question: at the more selective universities, any deficiency in your application will hurt, especially something like the SAT that's almost always ranked as one of the "most important" factors in admissions. at a less selective school, good SAT/ACT scores qualify you for merit aid. it's a test that definitely needs to be taken very seriously.
  • massgirl92massgirl92 Posts: 703Registered User Member
    I think scores are very important to most colleges. My grades aren't crazy high, and I'm not in the top 10% of my class, yet so far I've gotten accepted to Notre Dame and UNC OOS. Neither would have been possible IMO had my scores not been strong.
  • billabongboy9828billabongboy9828 Posts: 1,090Registered User Senior Member
    ^It should be noted that most of the articles cited in this thread are very outdated. As of 2011, almost all schools consider the Writing portion of the SAT Reasoning Exam to be equally as important as the Reading and Math sections. There are only a few schools that disregard your Writing score (Cornell, UChicago, Georgetown, WashU, to name a few) and many other schools who had previously relied on only a 1600 score (like MIT and Harvard) now consider the full 2400.
  • mandypandymandypandy Posts: 631Registered User Member
    So, the writing category is equally important? That's good to know! Most of my friends who took the SAT said, "Well, the writing doesn't really count for anything..."
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