The Importance of Standardized Tests in the College Search

Taking the SAT and ACT is practically a rite of passage for high school students.  Love them or hate them, for better or worse, they are part of the college search. You are going to need to take these tests to get into college.  There is much stress and trepidation about the test taking process. The tests themselves have even become controversial as some teachers and administrators have spoken out against them claiming they are a poor representation of a student’s ability and intelligence.

But the SAT and ACT remain a fact of life. Standardized tests, and your performance on the tests, weigh heavily over the college admissions process. Many schools have strict test-score thresholds students must meet before they will even be considered for admission.

Knowing the important role standardized tests play in college admissions is only the first step. Now, you must give yourself the opportunity to succeed on the tests – and keep your sanity.

A key component of success on the tests is familiarity.

To achieve this, some students choose to take prep courses or hire private tutors. Both of these options can be very costly, but they can be effective.

Prep courses give students the opportunity to take sample tests and become more accustomed to the types of questions asked. Private tutors will offer test-taking strategies and will also be familiar with the test formats.

If prep classes and tutors aren’t affordable you can find alternatives. Some high schools offer free test prep after school, and there are many resources – from sample questions to advice on YouTube – available for free online. Any student may take the SAT or ACT as many times as they wish. Many students find that their test scores increase on their second attempt, although returns often diminish on the third or fourth try.

There are also practical ways to prepare for the test. First, eliminate distractions. Sleep well the night before. Eat breakfast. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the testing center and arrive early. Have your test materials ready in advance. If you have to worry about hunger, finding a parking space or where your pencils are then you won’t be focused on the test.

All the preparation in the world does not guarantee success on the ACT and SAT. Some students do not test well, and colleges know this. If your test scores are close to a school’s requirements they may make adjustments if for strong grades or outside-of-school performance. A few schools have even gone test-optional, and do not require the ACT or SAT.

So while a low score isn’t the end of your college search, a strong performance will go a long way to helping you get into the right college for you. A strong performance begins with knowing the importance of the tests, and preparing accordingly.

About the Author

Philip Walters: I want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to go to college. This means getting in, finding the right college fit and paying for school. I love to share what I’ve learned and I hope you can find some useful information useful in your college search.

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Image Credit: EPSY5121

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