Getting a good score on your SAT or ACT a great way to differentiate yourself to colleges, and it can even balance out an application that is weaker in other areas, such as GPA, regardless whether or not it is an admissions requirement.
— Recently, there has been some pushback against standardized testing. Some major schools have eliminated their GRE requirements for graduate programs, and democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren pledged to “eliminate high-stakes testing” in her comprehensive plan for K-12 education. In 2019, a record number of colleges eliminated the SAT and ACT requirement for admissions. So, many have been asking — do we still need to take the SAT?
First, we need to understand why some colleges have decided to remove these exams from their admissions process. Institutions leading the way in the pushback against standardized testing usually cite applicant diversity as the main reason for doing so. There often seems to be a relationship between standardized test scores and income, for example. Since test prep courses or tutoring are often required for these tests, students who can’t afford these services are often unable to prepare well for exams and may score lower. However, some companies are leading the way by offering affordable ways to prepare for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.
However, ivy league schools still require the SAT or ACT. As of right now, there isn’t a single ivy league school that doesn’t require either the SAT, ACT, or some form of standardized exam. So, if you are shooting to be in the that select percentile of students who gains admittance to these prestigious schools, you’ll need to take one of these exams. The Admissions FAQ’s on Harvard’s website state: “We regard test results as helpful indicators of academic ability and achievement when considered thoughtfully among many other factors.” Yale, Princeton, and Cornell require an SAT/ACT score as well, while Columbia and Dartmouth recommend taking both the SAT and the SAT subject test.
Even if schools are making the requirement optional, they will still look at your SAT scores. As Zachary Goldberg, spokesman for the College Board, said recently, “Whether required for admission or not, SAT scores help colleges create data-driven programs to ensure admitted students get the supports they need to graduate.” So, even the schools that don’t require the SATs still recognize that the scores have value and will check SAT scores. Getting a good score on your exam will still make you more desirable to a school, whether or not it is an admissions requirement. Taking the SAT or ACT and getting a good score is a great way to differentiate yourself to colleges, and it can even balance out an application that is weaker in other areas, such as GPA.
Also, taking the SATs may end up saving you money—if you score well enough. Students who find that their standardized test scores are on the higher side may end up earning scholarship money. Some schools will pay up to $15,000 for students whose scores reach a certain percentile. There are also community organizations and private foundations that will offer money to high SAT/ACT achievers. If you take an SAT prep course and do well on the exam now, you may end up thanking yourself later when it’s time to pay your student loans.
Lastly, your SAT may open many doors for you throughout your life if you do well enough. Some grad school applications and even job applications will ask for your SAT score. Most admissions experts recommend that you invest in yourself now by taking the time to prepare properly with an SAT prep course or SAT tutoring program.
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