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SAT Scores Still Matter For College Admission


 

Recently a friend called me.  She was worried.  She’d read a news story explaining how colleges were not using the SAT and she thought I might be struggling with my business.  I assured her that the test prep part of my business is as strong as ever and she didn’t need to worry about the SAT going away anytime soon.  SAT scores still count for college admission.

Yes, more colleges and universities are electing to make the SAT (or ACT) optional for admission.  Fair Test, an organization that advocates for open and appropriate use of testing, estimates that 850 colleges are currently “test optional” meaning they do not require applicants to submit any standardized test scores for admission.  Some of these schools have always had open admissions policies, admitting any applicant regardless of class rank or scores (i.e. DeVry, ITT Technical, American Intercontinental.)   Others are specialized schools – music conservatories, arts schools, or Bible colleges.  But there are a growing number of liberal arts colleges and major universities that have opted to make the SAT optional.

The list of test optional schools has grown in recent years, but it doesn’t mean the SAT is on its way out.  Rumors of the SAT’s demise have been around since I was in high school.  I’ll be the first to admit the SAT isn’t fair.  It isn’t the best predictor of a student’s academic ability or likelihood of college success.  But in the absence of a financially viable alternative, the SAT is here to stay.

It takes time, effort, and expense to personally evaluate college applications.  The SAT is a useful tool to help universities compare students.  You will find standardized test scores play a more significant role in admission to large state universities.  These institutions have formulas that use GPA or class rank plus SAT scores to determine admission.  In these situations the SAT is as important as ever.

I live in Texas and here you will find SAT scores are alive and well.  With good SAT scores, even the student who graduates last in his class can gain automatic admission to some of our state universities.

The chart below lists the 2012 rank and SAT requirements for five state universities. (SAT scores are combined reading and math only.)

Automatic Admission Requirements

 

UH

Texas Tech

Texas State

SFA

Sam Houston

Top 15% Admit
Top 11 – 25% 1000+ SAT 1140+ SAT 920+ SAT Admit 850+ SAT
Top 26-50% 1100+ SAT 1230+ SAT 1010+ SAT 850+ SAT 930+ SAT
Top 51-75% Review 1270+ SAT 1180+ SAT 1050+ SAT 1030+ SAT
Top 76-100% Review Review 1270+ SAT 1250+ SAT 1140+ SAT

 

As you can see, a strong SAT score can make up for a below average class rank in some cases.  In fact, SAT scores are key elements for admission to these schools.  Students who do not have the scores to qualify for automatic admission must present compelling information in the remainder of their application to gain acceptance.  Whether you live in Texas or not, you should understand that state universities place considerable weight on standardized test scores.

Many private colleges and universities have similar SAT guidelines.  As you visit colleges, find out how they use test scores and the average scores for students recently admitted.

Over the next five years, I expect to see the number of test optional schools grow, but I’m confident the SAT is not going away anytime soon.  For now SAT scores still matter for college admission.  So I’ll be here offering SAT prep classes and college admission advice.

 

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