College Admissions: Why Standardized Testing Scores Matter

As a guardian of a high school junior or senior, you’re probably well aware that your student may need to take a standardized test like the SAT or ACT as part of their college application process. While they aren’t required for every school, they provide a great opportunity for your student to enhance their application.

These exams help colleges and universities evaluate a large number of applications and ensure that they are ready for the rigor of college academics. Plus, they give admissions representatives a more complete view of an applicant’s academic capabilities. Here’s what you (and your student) need to know about standardized testing.

A Measurement of Academic Preparedness

Every year, U.S. colleges receive thousands of applications, making it tough for administrators to narrow the pool of applicants. For instance, Azusa Pacific University typically receives around 6,700 applicants each year and admissions representatives have to choose which students will be accepted.

Because high school grading systems (and GPAs) can vary by school, a standardized test can provide a more objective metric for consideration. Including scores from the SAT or ACT exam in your student’s application can help show schools of interest that they are academically prepared for college-level work.

A Way to Balance Out Applications

Not only do schools use students’ SAT or ACT scores to determine their readiness, they also use standardized test scores to balance out areas of the application where students may not be as strong. For example, if your student’s GPA isn’t as high as they would like—or if they had a semester when their grades slipped below what they’re capable of achieving—standardized test scores can show that they are capable of better work than what their GPA may indicate.

It’s also important to remember that, in addition to test scores and grades, colleges take many other factors into consideration when reviewing applications. Schools want to maintain vibrant campuses, so many desire students who are actively involved in their community, take part in academic extracurriculars, or participate in sports or creative endeavors. While academic results are important, know that they’re not the only deciding factors in your student’s college admission.

A Qualification for Scholarships

A student’s SAT or ACT score isn’t just useful for admission into their school of choice; did you know that standardized test scores can also qualify students for certain college scholarships? Some scholarships are automatically granted for academics while others might require an additional application, but talented students who demonstrate their capabilities in college entrance exams can qualify to receive money for college. Achieving a high score can increase the number of scholarships students may earn—and mean more help in paying for their education.

Scholarship amounts vary by institution but are typically available to all students (from every income bracket) and can be supplemented with other forms of financial aid. Parents and students should look into as many scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid as possible because chances are good that a qualified applicant won’t need to pay the full cost of tuition. At Azusa Pacific University, 100 percent of incoming undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid.

Is your student interested in taking the SAT or ACT exam? First, find out the differences between the two tests to help decide which one to focus on.