Are SAT/ACT Scores or GPA More Important When Applying to College?

Are SAT/ACT Scores or GPA More Important When Applying to College?Many prospective college applicants wonder whether SAT/ACT scores or Grade Point Average (GPA) are more important when they are applying to college. Your GPA is a score that includes all of your grades throughout your high school career and a standardized test score is earned in just a few hours. While many high school students assume that more weight will be placed on their GPA than ACT or SAT test scores that is not always the case. Both are important, but more weight is placed on one over the other depending on the school you plan on attending. Read on, and learn more information about the weight that is placed on GPAs and test scores.

Your High School and the Courses You Take

It’s easy to assume that any respectable college would consider a student’s GPA over a test score because it is easy for a student to panic on a single test. While this is a reasonable assumption, it is not always an accurate one. The weight that is placed on your GPA is dependent on the high school you attend and the courses you take. If you attend a rural high school or a public school in the suburbs with subpar test scores, your perfect GPA may not hold as much weight as a student who earn a 3.5 GPA at a college preparatory school that has a better reputation.

The coursework that you complete also matters. In high school, there is great variability in the courses that students take. High achievers may take honors courses or upper level courses in science and math. Students who just take the “easy A” will take courses that are required for graduation. Admissions counselors will look at your transcript and GPA before placing weight on the score. If you have taken courses with a high level of difficulty, you may be selected over people who have even a higher GPA than you do.

Why So Much Weight is Placed on SAT/ACT Scores

Now that you understand how there is variability between GPA scores, you can understand why so much weight is placed on test scores when the admissions at a college are competitive. SAT and ACT tests are standardized tests that assess your academic ability in a single sitting. You should review the average SAT score of accepted applicants to get a feel for the score that you will need to have a chance to compete. While the acceptance rates of colleges go down on an annual basis, the average standardized test scores of the applicants seem to climb year after year. This is why you need to dedicate your time to studying for your test before taking it.

Your GPA is still very important, but when you are considering both factors individually, SAT and ACT test scores tend to hold more weight. Be sure to work hard to achieve a high GPA and use study guides and resources to your advantage in your junior or senior year. If you take your SAT/ACT test early enough, you could have time to retest and improve before submitting your applications. Now that you have an answer to the question “Are SAT/ACT scores or GPA more important when applying to college?”, you can push yourself.

For more information on taking the SAT/ACT, please see: When Should I Take the SAT or ACT?