The Importance of the SAT Test

How important is the SAT test? Does it count for everything as far as college admissions goes?

At CATES, students often ask us how the importance of SAT Test scores ranks in comparison to the rest of a student’s overall college application. 1.6 million students took the SAT Test last year, so obviously the test serves as a critical component of the application, but it does not count for everything. Generally speaking, the levels of importance of the different aspects of your application break down as follows:

1. Grades – Did you challenge yourself in high school and earn great grades doing so?

2. SAT Test Scores, SAT Subject Test Scores, and ACT Test Scores.

3. Extracurricular Activities – Sports, Clubs, Community service, etc.

4. College Application Essays – Who you are “beyond the numbers?”

5. Recommendations – What do your teachers think of you?

6. Interview – How well do you present yourself in person?

Of course, there are exceptions to these general guidelines. Some schools may value the college application essay more than SAT test scores. When considering schools, ask your college counselor about how these institutions you aspire to rank these items.

As a rule of thumb, the top schools are going to be looking for strong SAT test scores. The test represents an objective measure, separate from all the idiosyncrasies of individual schools, which an admissions officer can use to gauge achievement. Additionally, as college admissions becomes increasingly competitive, you can expect to see median SAT test scores at all schools on the rise.

The SAT Test cannot replace or overshadow the great work you have done in the classroom for years, rest assured. Actually, in many ways the SAT Test presents a chance at redemption for the student who believes his or her academic record does not reflect the intellectual ability demonstrated in class. For cases like this, the SAT Test presents a great opportunity to show the admissions officers exactly what you are capable of doing.

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