test scoresEveryone knows that test scores are a major factor for admissions; however, the following are other ways colleges use SAT and ACT test scores:

  1. Most Four-Year Colleges Use Test Scores in Their Admission Decisions

SAT and ACT scores help colleges compare students from different high schools. Since there is so much grade inflation, test scores allow colleges to compare students based on the same gauge regardless of the high school attended.  Scores also indicate students’ strengths and readiness to handle college work.

2. Test Scores Are Not the Most Important Factor

How colleges use scores in admission decisions can vary. Typically the larger schools may depend on them more than the smaller schools. Smaller schools can use other factors since relatively speaking, they have fewer applicants. Bottom line, it’s a numbers game at the larger universities.

3. Admission Tests Enable Colleges to Find You

When students register for the SAT or ACT, they will automatically get correspondence from colleges that have an interest in students based on  a combination of grades, scores, academic interests, etc. Also,  when students take any standardized exam – including the PSAT, AP and Subject tests, they are offered the option of having colleges contact them.    

4. Most Colleges Publish Student Test-Score Information

Colleges typically make the average scores and/or score ranges of their students public. This makes it easier to see if a school is right for a student based upon its published cut-offs. Many students are admitted who score below the published range because of other factors deemed more important. That said, just because your teen’s scores appear to fall short, there are other criteria that colleges will consider that could tilt the scales in your teen’s favor.

5. Scores May Determine Placement in College Classes

Colleges may use students’ scores to place them in an appropriate level course based on the skill level revealed from their test scores. Some colleges also use scores to identify students who could benefit from academic support or a having a special advisor.

6. Colleges Use Scores to Award Scholarships

Scholarship or grant money is typically based on test scores. For instance, if your student applies to a school where the average score for the top 10% is 1200- 1250, and your student scored a 1350, that is usually a ticket to free college tuition – anywhere from partial to a free ride.

Organizations and private companies that award scholarships may also want test scores as part of their scholarship application.

7. The Majority of Four-Year Colleges Require Scores

Most four-year colleges require or strongly recommend that students submit test scores. The SAT and ACT are accepted by almost all U.S. colleges. There are some four-year colleges, open-admission colleges, and community colleges that do not require scores as part of the application process, but they may use them for placement or scholarships.

8. Colleges Consider Multiple Scores Differently

It’s up to the student who sees the scores. If a student takes the SAT more than once, the student can often select to send only the highest scores; however, each college has its own policy for how it uses multiple scores. For example:

  • Some colleges require all scores.
  • Some colleges look at the highest combined scores from one test date. This is called Score Choice. This allows students to submit only the test score from their best sitting.
  • Many schools Superscore – colleges look at the highest score from more than one test administration. What this means is that the college will consider the highest section scores across all the dates the student took the SAT or ACT. This allows the school to create the highest possible composite score. By the way, Superscoring is a plus for schools as it allows them to increase their college ranking. (Fewer schools Superscore the ACT).

It’s advisable to check the college website to know the current policy on Score Choice or Superscoring.



Resource: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/testing/8-things-to-know-about-how-colleges-use-admission-tests?


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