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3 Surprising Reasons Why Colleges Care About SAT & ACT Scores

We all know that high SAT or ACT test scores look good on college applications.

If you’ve read MEK Review’s Top 10 Admission Factors, you even know that test scores rank only second to GPA as the most important factor on your college application.

However, you might be surprised at some of the reasons why!

Reason #1. Test scores help them review applications faster.

Scores can make or break whether your application is even reviewed!

The number of students applying to colleges keeps growing every year, even though the number of admissions staff that must review applications stays mostly the same.

This means admission officers have hundreds of applications to review and are looking for quick ways to place applications into the rejection pile. Glancing quickly at test scores is one of the main ways admission officers decide if your application will even receive a serious review.

In fact, according to Forbes magazine’s college admissions expert Steve Cohen, “at the very selective college and universities, there is a very scary reality: if you don’t have a 700/700 [SAT score], you’re just not getting on the table.”

Reason #2. High test scores make THEM look good.

You might think colleges care about test scores because they want to see your aptitude and mastery of high school material.

This is not completely true.

Most colleges report publicly the average SAT and ACT score of their freshmen class. The higher the average the more prestigious they appear.

Colleges care deeply about increasing their reputation and exclusivity, and test scores are a key way they can accomplish this. So much so that even schools that purport to not care about test scores, do care!

This is one of the key reasons schools allow SuperScoring – a score process in which they only formally review your highest score in each section of the SAT or ACT. It’s not a kindness, it’s so they can report higher average test scores!

Reason #3. Test score ranges encourage future applications.

A school’s average SAT or ACT score range doesn’t tell the whole story.

When colleges report the range of SAT or ACT scores that their freshmen class achieved, they usually give the 25th and 75th percentile. This reflect the average score range for that incoming class.

For example, you might see a university whose entering class had a 25th-75th  SAT range of 1300-1500. If you earned a 1330, you might think you have a great shot at acceptance.

In truth, unless you have other outstanding parts of your application, your chances of admission are fairly small.

The bottom half of a school’s test score range reflect students with other decisive application factors such as athletics, performing arts, or other special distinctions. For a strong chance, you need to score closer to the 75th percentile.

Why don’t colleges make this clear?

They want to encourage many students to apply because the more applicants they have, the more they can reject, and the more their prestige grows.

What this means for you

We may not like the reasons behind it, but it’s clear your test scores matter a lot for college admissions. Use this knowledge to your advantage by preparing for the SAT or ACT and earning your highest possible score.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare, study with the right materials, get expert help, and take the official test more than once.

We’re here to help you with our SAT Prep and ACT Prep courses. With our proven system, our students earn top competitive scores and so can you!

Call 855-346-1410 to sign up today or contact us here.

We can’t wait to hear from you!


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Katie Weisman

Katie Weisman is a driven, dedicated English teacher at MEK Review, who leads group test prep classes, as well as one-on-one sessions with students. Her passion for teaching, in-depth knowledge of test content, and use of our systematic approach to test preparation helps her guide students to high test scores, strong writing skills and their full potential.


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