We’ve got good news and bad news.
The bad news is: if you want to apply to college, you’re going to have to take the SAT or the ACT (and sometimes both). That means test prep, study sessions, memorization—and for most students taking the exams, it also means anxiety, worry, and one or two sleepless nights.
But, here’s the good news: your standardized test scores are only one part of your total application, and while it’s important to do your best, many college admissions teams are looking at more than the exam.
A lot of schools aren’t holding these standardized tests to the standard they once did (no pun intended). They get it: some students just don’t test well, or didn’t sleep much the night before, or didn’t do as well as they could have—but these students still have the potential to excel. Admissions teams recognize that a single score doesn’t really give a clear depiction of who you are or how well you can succeed in college.
Common Misconceptions about the Standardized Tests
How many of these have you heard? How many of them do you believe?
- Every college only cares about these scores
- If you don’t have good scores on your SAT or ACT, you won’t be accepted into college
- A lower score means that you aren’t smart enough (or ready) for college
The truth is, figuring out if a prospective student is a good fit for their university is a lot more complicated than just a number, and admissions teams have a lot to consider when looking at your application.
What Else Matters to Admissions
- High school transcripts and grades—not just your cumulative score, but individual semester grades, too
- Rigor of coursework—if you chose to take advanced placement courses or honors classes, that shows you challenged yourself
- Extracurricular activities, including your involvement in clubs, sports, volunteerism, and leadership opportunities
- Teacher and guidance counselor recommendations
- Application essays
To be clear: we’re not saying you shouldn’t study your heart out for the SAT and the ACT. You absolutely should, and if you don’t get the score you think you can, you should take it again. Practice, practice, practice.
But, we do want to clear up some misconceptions to help you gain a little perspective on just how much (or little) your standardized test scores could matter. These tests aren’t meaningless—but you’re a lot more than just one exam score, and most colleges get that.
Next Steps: Download the IPFW Viewbook
As Indiana’s only Multisystem Metropolitan University, IPFW combines the global prestige of two prominent institutions—Indiana University and Purdue University—our beautiful nearly 700-acre campus, all at an affordable rate and right here in Fort Wayne.
We offer a variety of opportunities with more than 200 academic programs, tons of scholarship and financial aid options, and an incredible student experience with luxury housing options, 14 NCAA Division I athletics programs, and more than 120 student organizations—and so much more.
Photo Credit to Cat Klein; Flickr