High GPA, Low ACT and SAT scores?

Okay, I can’t be the only one with a 4.0 unweighted, 4.7 weighted GPA, but have horrendous standardized testing scores, right? I have a 1200 SAT and 26 ACT. It’s not like I’m completely stupid, I’ve taken very rigorous AP and dual enrollment classes, yet my standardized test scores don’t seem to reflect that.

I know I shouldn’t complain, but I’m going to regardless. I really don’t think these test can accurately measures the intelligence of a student and predict how they will perform in college. Yes, good students tend to do well on these tests anyways, but that’s not always the case. I just find it absurd that these tests are one of the top priorities in the application process for any college/scholarship.

I mean, I’ll be retaking the SAT soon, but I doubt I’ll be scoring much higher. I just hope questbridge can look past that and consider me as a finalist, regardless of my horrible scores.

are you a rising senior? The good news is you can study for SAT and raise your score. One’s GPA is mostly locked in by end of junior year. Don’t give in. Study hard this summer.

I am in the exact same situation! I have a 3.99 unweighted GPA, 4.6 weighted GPA, yet my standardized test scores are comparatively low. I recently read an article describing the correlation between family income and standardized test scores, and I’m wondering if (although we’re both obviously good students) this can be a factor. You also have to consider that many students are able to afford test prep tutors/classes that aren’t typically available to QuestBridge students. Are you a rising senior? If so, are QuestBridge college prep scholar? I’ve heard that’s a good indicator of whether you will be selected as a finalist in the college match. As Sportsman88 said, you can always study to improve your score. I wouldn’t be convinced that your score is final, even if you are a rising senior. Good luck! :slight_smile:

Also you can apply to test optional schools.

If you can, prepare for three subject tests in your strongest subjects and apply to “test flexible” universities.

Test optional universities that meet need include Bates, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan, Wake Forest, Dickinson, WPI.

Other universities to look into for their test optional policy and merit scholarships: Kalamazoo, Drake, Lawrence, St Lawrence, Beloit.

For the record, 26 is not horrendous at all.

What state do you live in?

This is literally my ordeal, too. I have a 4.0 GPA and a 1200 SAT just like you. I’m a QPrep Scholar hoping to increase my SAT score, too.

@lanam99 Yes, I’m a rising senior, so I only have 1 more chance to take the SAT. The average SAT score for Questbridge finalists are 1280-1410 and 28-32 ACT. Now, lots of people definitely scored higher and lower and we’re still considered finalist, but they do tend to do pretty well, even with low income.

@MYOS1634 I live in Florida, which already has very affordable instate tuition, and with bright futures covering $6,000 out of a $6,300 tuition, plus a $300 stipend, it’s almost a full ride. Not to mention, the instate schools have their own scholarships, and they’re also required to give credit for ALL dual-enrollment classes. Now, I want to expand my options, so I’m looking into questbridge because of the full ride scholarships. They say they cover tuition, books and supplies + other expenses, but I still don’t know how much that would cost in the end. It cost money to eat, drive around, and live a healthy life. I don’t know whether or not questbridge or my instate schools would be cheaper. I would hate to be stuck in a situation where I matched with a school, but it would’ve still been cheaper to just go to UF. Do you have any experience with questbridge? What’s your opinion?


Funnily enough, I think the exact opposite. My unweighted GPA is around a 3.4, yet my ACT is a 31.

In my view (and it may be hard for you to see my point of view), GPA is mostly meaningless and standardized test scores are a much more accurate measurement of the ability of a student to perform in college.

GPA differs from school to school, from class to class. Different students may have different teachers or different district/state curriculum which may present varied difficulties and challenges for a student. How is it fair to measure students on GPA, when the process in earning that GPA varies from school to school?

When it comes to a standardized test, every student, whether they be from rural Oklahoma to urban New York, will be sitting down and taking the same test. They will be given the exact same opportunity and circumstances in which the test is administered and the test content is fair to each and every student.

In regard to the performance of a student in college, I think it is extremely fair to use a standardized test. When a student goes to college, they will be expected to perform at the same level, regardless of the difficulty of their high school curriculum.

There are some students who do have 4.0 GPA’s and yet struggle in college, simply because they are from schools that are academically underachieving and unrigorous. There are some students who have very poor GPA’s, yet have high test scores and perform great in college, because their high schools were very challenging, even if it led to lower GPA’s.

Well, then how else would they be able to compare applicants? Would it be fair to say Bob, a low GPA student at an extremely rigorous high school, is somehow inferior academically to Joe, a high GPA student at a high school where A’s are handed out freely? That would be completely unfair and absurd.

Standardized tests are the only way to fairly measure students to each other.

@RMNiMiTz : Actually, research shows that scores don’t mean anything wrt college success that GPA doesn’t indicate. A high GPA is better correlated with college success than high test scores - in particular because tests can be “prepped for” and because GPA reflects consistent effort over time.
Test optional colleges report no difference in graduation outcomes or academic success between applicants who submitted test scores and those who did not. Because Bowdoin started 45 years ago there’s a long body of research on this.
Now, test scores aren’t completely meaningless, in that an 18 is different from a 32. But context is essential. If your school average is 17 and you score 27 it’s as good as scoring 32 in other circumstances. The most selective colleges don’t look at the score “raw”. Finally, merit scholarships at public universities DO use the score without context, so that’s another venue for those with high test scores.

@incompletenam :
Questbridge is a full ride, not full tuition. They don’t just pay for tuition, they cover anything your family can’t - including room, board (housing and food), health insurance, books. Top universities like Yale or Vassar also know you may not have winter clothing and include that in your financial aid package. You will be expected to contribute through saving from summer work and work study during the year. And if course it’s extemely selective.

@RMNiMiTz I agree that standardized tests allow colleges to compare their applicants, but it still has its flaws. While most of the information on the SAT/ACT is very basic, the way it is worded can be alien to somebody who comes from a school with teachers who don’t focus on word problems. So, the tests aren’t cooompletely perfect. As @MYOS1634 said, GPA is a good reflection of work ethic, which is key. Of course, some schools have grade inflation/deflation.


I honestly don’t believe it because I had 5 A’s in AP classes and 1 B in my 6th AP class with the rest of my classes being honors yet my GPA still isn’t a 4.0 (either weighted or unweighted). I feel thats unfair, but maybe its just me being personal.

GPA looks at all your class grades across the years, which means if you did terrible your first 2 years of high school you are practically screwed. I feel I am pretty capable of doing the work in college, yet looking at my cumulative GPA, one wouldn’t be so sure.

I’m in the same situation too! My scores are okay, but still not necessarily “in concordance” with my GPA. My best advice is to look for the best ACT/SAT tutor in town and take as many practice tests as you can. I was able to boost my ACT score 3 points up. If that doesn’t work out though, just relax because many schools recognize that standardized testing isn’t everyone’s strong suit. In some cases, it’s a lot better to have a high GPA & low scores than low GPA and high scores, as high GPA indicate a hard working and dedicated individual, while sometimes high test score simply means one is a “good test-taker”.

Unless you specifically have problems with standardized test taking (and people do), this indicates grade inflation at your school.

I never bought into preparing for these standardized tests as I figured that once you’re done, what you studied is the most useless stuff ever. Especially when there was a writing section where you had to find and know the pointless grammar rules and have to cram absurd/impractical essay topics into 25 minutes…
Okay, modernized myself on today’s topics and HS is the last time I ever had to do rhetorical analysis…

At least the math portion was very intuitive and took no studying to do very well.

Maybe the intent of the test is to test your study skills (which people have unfair access to)… But I wasn’t aiming for a top college – I only wanted to know if I was good enough because there were better, cheaper options for me that turned out well. I found more future value in the AP classes / extracurriculars than I did in these tests