SAT Role in Application

How Much Weight Does the SAT Carry in an Application?

The SAT is an integral part of the college application process, however, the importance of test scores as a component of a student's college application can vary significantly from school to school. For many colleges, the SAT is a key differentiator that offers a way of comparing students from different high schools and different backgrounds using a common standard.

Dr. Pamela Ellis, founder of Compass Education Strategies, estimates that the weight of test scores in the application process can range from 0 to 80 percent. That is because while many schools rely on the SAT heavily, there are a number of schools that are "test optional," meaning test scores are not required. While this is good news for students who have a lot of difficulty taking standardized tests, the bottom line is that strong test scores are always an asset. High scores demonstrate that a students not only stands out from among their peers but also from among a national pool of applicants. In addition, even some colleges that are test-optional may award some merit-based scholarships based on test scores.

For most colleges, SAT scores remain a requirement, and a major component of the application, along with grades, application essays, extra curricular activities, and sometimes even interviews. Most schools report the SAT scores of their most recent entering class. Students should use the reported scores of their target schools as a guide of what scores they should aim for when they take the SAT.