This is the fifth post in a series of college admission hints for parents and members of the high school classes of 2012 and 2013.
At many colleges, an applicant’s SAT or ACT scores are just one piece of the admissions picture. Many times, a student’s test scores nicely correlate with his or her transcript, providing a one-time corroboration of the day to day achievement. But what if you are one of the students whose test scores are lower than you think they should be?
I encourage most students to plan to take the SAT or ACT more than once, and to at least take a full scale practice exam for each test prior to the real thing. Unless you score at the very upper echelons of either test, familiarity is likely to result in at least modest score increases. If your first test administrations don’t produce the scores you are seeking, then consider your test prep options.
While you are preparing for the tests and planning for subsequent test dates, keep in mind that your scores should influence the final list of colleges to which you apply, and remain honest with yourself. Look at the scores range for admitted students. If your scores fall outside the middle 50%, your chances for admission are not as high. Not impossible, but spend time thinking about your strengths and making certain that you have explained them well in your application.
Fairtest has a comprehensive list of colleges that do not require (but may accept) standardized test scores as part of their assessment for admission. Not all applicants to these colleges are students with test scores below the range for the institution, but if testing is an obstacle for you, it might be worth looking to see if these colleges and universities meet your other criteria.
Above all, it is important to remember that you are not simply a number between 0 and 2400. Each student can bring tremendous assets to a college community, and leave after an intellectually and socially fulfilling experience. Embrace your strengths and try to find college communities that meet your needs.