Should You Really Have the Highest Scores on the ACT or SAT?

Sam H. '18, Reporter

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I heard something quite intriguing at a college fair. One college admissions counselor told me that a high ACT or SAT score and a low GPA, and vise versa, can actually harm you more than it can help you.

I pondered on that fact for a few weeks after that. The counselor said that if someone has a high ACT/SAT score and a low GPA, it can make the student look lazy or make the good test score look like a fluke. It works the same way as well. Someone with a high GPA and low test score can also show that a student struggled with the test, but is not bringing the amount of effort to get a score. Now for both of these scenarios, the college counselor was talking in extremes. Someone with a 3.0 GPA and a miracle 34 ACT is not quite what some competitive colleges have in mind when accepting students.

The Crimson Education Website writes that “What does it mean if you get a 1600 on the SAT? Nothing. Most top schools still won’t let you in.” The Crimson Education website also writes, “Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and many other top colleges are reducing emphasis on SAT scores.”

The highest scores on the ACT or the SAT can still greatly increase your chances of
getting into a competitive school. But, having a score way outside of your GPA range may
decrease your chance. Schools today are putting more emphasis on the whole student rather than
just the scores alone.

Having a student who is multi-faceted with a specific goal in mind for their community will give you an edge to get into a more competitive school. Let me break this down. Schools want something unique and different, but they want someone who has a specific thing they can contribute to the community.

Having a high ACT or SAT score may be the dream of most high school students, but it is not the Golden Ticket to getting into your dream school. You will be more likely to get into the school of your dreams if your GPA and ACT/SAT remain in the same range and have something to show that you are passionate about.

Good grades are important as are ACT or SAT scores, but having one weigh out the other can harm you more than it can help you in some cases. Do not stress if you do not have the perfect ACT or SAT, if you can show your passions in your essays then you will be much more likely to get into the school of your dreams. Find a way to make yourself interesting by focusing on something specific, do not keep things general. Make them intricate and personal, it can really impact how a college counselor may view you in the application process. Try not to worry about quantity, but instead worry about the quality of your essays.

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