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Is Your Child’s SAT/ACT Score or GPA More Important To College Admissions?

GPA or SAT/ACT score? We’re asked this question a lot by parents and students.

Let’s take a quick look at why one of these metrics is definitely more important to college admissions boards that the other.


Which One Do You Think Is More Important?

Your child’s GPA or SAT/ACT score?

Well, most people think that a high school grade point average is more important than a standardized test score. But for a lot of high school students, this definitely isn’t the case.

If your child is looking to attend a competitive university, then her SAT/ACT score is more important than her GPA.

What’s Wrong With GPA?

There are a few good reasons why to suspect it.

Firstly, grade point averages have a high level of variability from school to school. For example, a 3.6 GPA at a college preparatory academy in Long Island may be worth much more than a 4.0 GPA at a rural high school in Idaho.

There’s also the issue of “weighted” GPAs. School administrators may choose to “weight” honors and AP classes on any arbitrary scale they see fit. So a 4.4 weighted GPA may not be as impressive as it seems.

Why Course Difficulty Matters

In addition, course difficulty varies greatly.

I remember “AP Biology” was a joke at my high school, but is a very difficult class at many high schools. With so much variability from GPA to GPA, college admissions officers can’t fully determine the actual value consistently.

So they need other measures to assess the academic ability of an applicant. And those measures should be standardized. The SAT and ACT serve as the biggest standardized measures for high school students applying to competitive universities.


Why Test Scores Matter Now

Fifty years ago, SAT and ACT scores were of little importance in college applications.

In this new era of competitive higher education, SAT and ACT scores are more important than ever. This could mean that if you’re not near perfection on the SAT or ACT, you can kiss your Ivy league dreams goodbye!

Is the system fair? Definitely Not. Your child spends over 4,000 hours in a high school classroom working on her GPA. She spends just 4 hours taking the SAT or ACT.

Ultimately for students looking to attend competitive universities, SAT or ACT scores are valued more than their GPA. Unfortunately, this is the grim reality of the educational system today.

But instead of quitting, your child should learn how to play the game: prep for the SAT or ACT.

Why Does Test Prep Matter

You need the edge that test prep provides.

Your child cannot get into a Harvard, Stanford, or Yale with a 2.0 unweighted GPA. But your child’s GPA is also just the baseline.

Every student applying to competitive universities already has a high GPA. Therefore, for students applying specifically to competitive colleges, their SAT or ACT scores are more important.

Test scores can differentiate your child from other students.


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Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Written by Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Prep Expert Founder & CEO

Shark Tank Winner, Perfect SAT Scorer, Dermatologist, & #1 Bestselling Author
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