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Are SAT Scores Losing Importance in the College Application Process?

August 28, 2011 / Posted by in Blog

(Written by Margaret Pesikov)

The SAT’s have always been a critical part of the college application process. Students often prepare for the SAT years before taking it by memorizing vocabulary, practicing mathematics, and timing how long it takes to solve problems. After taking the SAT, many students take it again, striving for a higher score. Many parents and students believe that the SATs are required to get into college and that a low score will greatly affect the chance of acceptance.

On the contrary, many schools are now telling students that submitting SAT scores is optional. Other schools require them but pay little attention to them. Colleges and Universities are realizing that a student’s competence is often measured inaccurately by standardized testing. The brightest student may struggle with a time constraint or be crippled by stress, whereas the least intelligent student may be an incredible guesser. Also, schools argue that in addition to the scores telling little about a student’s abilities, the scores also do not show anything about a student’s personality.

Schools that have changed their policies from mandatory to optional SATs have found that the number of yearly applications following the switch to be record breaking. Students with great credentials, aside from their standardized scores, were now comfortable and confident to apply to more rigorous schools. As a result, the amount of applications sent out per year has sky rocketed across the United States.

Among the many schools that hold SAT scores as optional are University of Maine, Pittsburg State University, Bates College, New York University, Merrimack College, Johnson and Wales University, Hamilton College, and Fairfield University. The full list of SAT Optional schools is available at: http://fairtest.org/university/optional.

Each year, more schools are making SAT scores optional due to the lack of information the scores provide. It seems likely that eventually the SAT will be of extremely little significance. Meanwhile, students should continue preparing for the exam, but not be discouraged from applying to their favorite universities just because of a low score. Instead, students should try to achieve the best grades they can in school, collect outstanding recommendations, and join school sports and organizations. These are what matter the most to admissions officers. Colleges and universities understand that there is far more to a student than his or her SAT scores!

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