Do Colleges Really Care About Your ACT or SAT Scores?

This question keeps popping up. Below I’ve copied answers from experts who regularly answer questions on Quora. Here’s what they have to say.

Douglas Duncan Pickard, I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Twice.

[Why?] Because the SAT (and ACT) loosely correlate to freshman year GPA, therefore providing some assurance that the students won’t fail out right away.

Ok, that’s not the real reason. The real reason is because it provides a standardized test that all the prospective students take, so you are comparing “apples to apples” across all the applications. That helps with admissions decisions because GPA alone does not tell you much since education standards vary so much school to school.

Ok, that’s not the real reason either. The REAL real reason is that college rankings consider the average SAT score of admitted students. The higher it is the more it helps the schools rankings. It’s yet another way to keep score.

Gabriel J Ferrer Professor of Computer Science, Hendrix College

In my work as the chair of our college’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department, we have long made use of ACT Math scores as guidance in the placement process for entering students.

Generally speaking, a 28 or higher strongly predicts success in the Calculus sequence. A 24-27 also predicts success, but to a lesser degree.

A score below 24 predicts trouble. Viewed both at an abstract level as well as anecdotally in terms of instructor experience, such a score suggests poor algebra skills.

These predictions are not absolute, of course, and there are a number of students who manage to succeed in spite of low scores. But by and large, we have found ACT scores to be an excellent tool.

The most useful advice I can suggest is for high school students to work hard on mastering their algebra skills, and to some

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