How important were GPA, SAT/ACT, and AP scores this year for admissions?

Now that pretty much all of the c/o 2025 decisions are back, how successful were the people with high stats but relatively weak ECs? I have a perfect GPA and a very high SAT, but my ECs are limited to baseball and basketball exclusively. Since this year was so unique in terms of the application process, I don’t really know what is realistic before I start to fill out/pay for applications. Thanks!

SAT/ACT is starting to decline in importance due to lots of schools going TO. GPA I think is a little bit more weight now but I think it’s mostly used for cutoffs and they’ll compare to GPA of other students in your school to determine how much you challenged yourself with APs. AP scores are not important at all (I don’t think - unless with schools like Duke where they originally required SAT subject test scores maybe they’ll now look at APs?) ECs probably hold a lot of weight with top top tier schools, as well as essays (ivies, vandy, amherst, pomona, etc).

Did you have any ECs relating to community service or your school or academics? The main part of ECs that I think colleges look at are if the student pursues their interests outside of school (is passionate about learning something, etc), if the student cares about their community and about giving back, and if the student has the dedication to continue an activity for a long time. While sports probably takes up a lot of your time, unless you are a D1 level athlete I think schools on the bu/emory/ucla/ivy level will want to see extracurriculars with more involvement with your school community/academic interests. But I could also be wrong - please just make sure you apply to a variety of schools and focus a lot on your essays!

Most selective colleges admit frosh primarily (sometimes only) on the basis of academic credentials (GPA and/or rank, courses taken, test scores). Of course, the COVID-19 perturbation causing test-optional or test-blind at many makes it more difficult to compare this year with the previous years.

But if you are aiming for the most selective colleges, top-end academic credentials merely allow you the join the crowd of many other applicants who also have top-end academic credentials. Among that pool of applicants, other aspects like extracurriculars, essays, recommendations, etc. are used to distinguish between them.

Thanks for this! I think you’re right with the community involvement part. Lots of people have echoed that same idea about making some type of impact outside of sports (because I am a DIII level player). I’ll see what I can do with my time left, and then spend some time on my essays. Thanks again for the response.

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I suspect it’s the same as it’s been in the past.

For a school that temporarily went TO, I suspect each factor just scaled up. While it’s certainly not purely mathematical, a school that used to be GPA 50%, scores 20%, and 3 others 10% would now be 63% GPA and 12% others.

All subject to annual variations that have always happened.

I suspected at first that Candidates with SAT scores might have been given preference over candidates without SAT scores as the candidate with the SAT score is more ‘confirmed’ to be a strong applicant. But it seems that I was mistaken, I’ve seen a lot of TO candidates make it into colleges they might not have even applied to if this was not a TO year

I don’t think it matters if all your ECs are baseball and basketball. If it gets you to the level of being a recruited athlete, you’re in. But if not, and your passion is sports - playing, managing, promoting, whatever - maybe you can find a way to do some unique, creative community service using sports.

For next year, which will also be test optional for most schools, a stellar test score can certainly help. It’s just that you now have to out-compete people without a test score, because when there is an application without a test score, the schools have been honor-bound to ignore this, rather than assume that the applicant had a low score.

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I don’t think that just having a score will do it. But having a high score should, all else being equal.

If 2 students have the (unrealistic) exact same application, exactly matching the admitted student average in GPA, EC, essay, recommendation, etc., but one student has an SAT score that exceeds the 75th percentile and the other did not submit a score, I think the former would have an advantage.

(No, life isn’t always “fair”).