The daunting SAT and ACT tests can be thought of in many ways. A random sampling of college seniors, after time to reflect on their test experience, variously described the tests as “rites of passage,” “milestones,” “headaches,” “stressful,” and “rewarding.” The bottom line is that all the above is true. Being truthful, the tests are not fun, but they can be vital to your future in more ways than one. Many schools and organizations award scholarships and grants based purely on your impressive ACT or SAT scores. The tests are not the end-all/be-all of your academic career, but if you happen to do well, many financial doors fly open.
The PSAT and the National Merit Scholarship
Before taking the SAT, high school students take the PSAT, the Preliminary SAT exam. Many students gloss over the PSAT as simply a practice exam, which, in a sense, it is. However, if you knock the PSAT out of the park, you could be staring a $2500 scholarship straight in the face. The National Merit Scholarship ( ) is awarded on a rolling basis to students that receive remarkably high scores on the PSAT. Every admission period, a batch of 15,000 or so finalists is selected from all PSAT takers, approximately half of which are awarded the scholarship. Make sure you keep this information in mind before you sit the PSAT exam, because this scholarship could change a lot about your college career.
Moving onto the SAT and ACT
While the PSAT is important for National Merit Scholarship consideration, it also provides a warmup for the main event, the SAT exam. Most colleges accept both SAT and ACT scores, and it is up to students to decide which score they want to highlight. There are a litany of differences between the two tests, the main being the addition of a scientific reasoning section on the ACT. Regardless of your personal achievement, many schools have scholarships that reward outstanding scores on either exam.
There are so many scholarships awarded based on your impressive SAT and ACT score
A cursory Google search reveals that hundreds and hundreds of schools award merit-based scholarships from test scores. Both state schools and private institutions of higher learning get into the mix, ensuring that, if you do a great job on your SAT or ACT, you have great odds to attend the school of your choice regardless of personal financial standing.
The academic experience at college is vastly different from that in high school, where some students can earn high grades without studying. College is designed to weed out students who are not willing to put the necessary effort into their studies. This process does not necessarily start with your application and submission of test scores, but colleges will definitely take notice if you ace the SAT or ACT. If you don’t kill it on either exam, don’t fret; colleges don’t look at test scores with tunnel vision. That being said, besides the pride a high score will bring you personally, a high-level mark can bring a financial package that could shape your entire experience at a school.
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