Grades and Test Scores

 Grades in college credit classes are one of the most important factors considered in college admission decisions. Most four-year colleges give considerable importance to SAT/ACT scores to evaluate students’ academic potentials. All high school classes differ in the curriculum, grading system, and level of difficulty. The admission officers have to rely on these test scores to see students on the same playing field. Some of the large public universities have to depend on these test scores since they receive several applications; admissions counselors don’t have enough time to review each of them thoroughly. These tests favor a specific demographic group as families with higher income have an opportunity of sending their kids to test prep classes. Although all UCs are test blind for 2022-2023 students, most private schools have decided to be  Test-Optional, but not Test-Blind.

According to the Admission Insider, “The College Board has for several years “adversity index”designed to place students’ SAT scores in the context of their socioeconomic advantages or disadvantages. About 50 colleges and universities have used the system.” So to make it fair for all students, all universities should apply an adversity index policy. 

According to one of Forbes’s articles, “standardized test scores helped some underprivileged students gain entrance through the UC’s statewide guarantee of admission. These students would not have qualified for the guaranteed admission based on their high school grades alone”.

I have worked with students with perfect SAT scores and a high GPA, getting rejected by all Ivy Leagues. In contrast, a student with a decent ACT and GPA (not among the top 10%) but excellent work experience getting accepted by an Ivy League college. The Ivy league follows a more holistic admission policy than large public universities. 

Students applying to a competitive test-optional school choose not to submit any score can be detrimental to admission chances unless their GPA and extracurricular activities are powerful. Students should widen their college choices list and look beyond highly selective schools. The reason most colleges go test-optional is that it allows them to select holistically. 

Students who decide not to send their test scores will have their application material heavily scrutinized. Some highly selective colleges want their test-optional applicants to submit extra analytical writing samples and some scientific work. Students should be aware of any additional material required by such colleges.