As you prepare for the college search, you’ve no doubt heard how important standardized tests are to your applications. After all, if they weren’t that important, why would you spend so much time in class doing test prep
? Why would students spend hundreds of dollars on workbooks and tutors? And why would counselors encourage you to not only take the test multiple times but to also take a practice test a year before the real deal?
While standardized tests are in fact important in the admissions process, they’re not as vital as all of the above preparation would imply. So when it comes to standardized tests, don’t freak out. Here’s why:
1. Admissions counselors weigh GPA over test scores.
Test scores are reflective of one day of work, whereas a student’s GPA is an indication of how well they performed over the course of a few years. Therefore, the GPA is more important to admission officers than test scores. Students that have a high GPA, along with honors and AP courses, but a bad SAT score are most likely going to be admitted. Some schools are going so far as to disregard standardized test scores altogether, according to USA Today
At the same time, you can’t just wing the SAT or ACT. You do need to try, and you definitely need to take either exam if you plan to attend college. There’s just no need to stress out too much about a low test score if you’re a good student with a great GPA.
2. Your future employer won’t care about your SAT score.
Even if you land one of the most envied jobs in Silicon Valley, your employer won’t care about your SAT score. Your first job is the culmination of all of the years you spend working hard in college, which have nothing to do with your SAT score
so far as it helped you get into college. Once you’re in, it loses any bearing on your future success.
So rest easy – a bad SAT score isn’t going to ruin your whole life.
3. College admissions decisions are holistic.
There’s more to each applicant than the numbers. Though GPA is the most important component, admissions officers also like to see extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities and proof that students challenged themselves in and outside of the classroom.
Additionally, counselors enjoy getting to know students through personal essays and admissions interviews
. Through these aspects of the college application, you’re not just another name; you’re a person. And because you personalize yourself through these components, you become more than your test score. Admissions officers are able to gauge your uniqueness, talents and skills outside of the bubbles on a test sheet.
Test scores are important; they’re just not as important as they once were or the be-all and end-all of your admission application. If testing isn’t your forte, there are plenty of other portions of your application on which to fall back. So take a deep breath and relax on test day – because your score no longer defines you.