High test scores, low GPA

<p>I am a rising senior (class of 2011). During my first two years of high school, my grades were not as high as they should have been. As a result, my GPA at the time of my application process will be approximately 3.8. My test scores, on the other hand, are very strong -- 800 CR, 760 M, 780 W (composite 2340) and a 34 composite on the ACT. I haven't yet taken the SAT IIs but I am certain of two 800s, or at least very high 700s.</p>

<p>I realize that the general consensus is that high scores and low grades demonstrate an intelligent person who doesn't try in school, which is a distinct negative. However, during my entire junior year I received a 4.0, and I fully expect to receive the same scores the first semester of my senior year, despite having my hardest schedule to date. Taking this into consideration, and assuming that I will be applying to some extremely selective schools, how much will my application be hurt by relatively weak grades during my first two years?</p>

<p>Generally, colleges like to see an improving trend. They may see your significant improvement as a sign that you are ready for the hardworking environment of college... but every college and every admissions officer is different so it is hard to predict.</p>

<p>Top colleges are not into upward trends, most who get into them have very high ranks. A 3.8 is great at some schools, not at others. It's great to have reaches, but make sure your rank is realistic for the majority of schools you apply to.</p>

<p>It probably also depends on your class rank. Like, my GPA is about a 3.7, but my class rank is like top 15% or 10%.</p>