Myth: If I Have a Good GPA, The ACT And SAT Will Be Easy

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Think you don’t have to prepare for the ACT or the SAT because you have top grades or a high GPA? You may want to rethink that strategy. Having a good GPA isn’t an indicator of how well you’ll do on the ACT or SAT. Here’s why:

The Tests Test Differently

The ACT or the SAT aren’t looking to test your knowledge on something. They’re not asking you to remember specific dates from history or recall the name of a painting you saw in art class. These tests are designed to see how well you can think critically. Can you read a passage and answer in depth questions on what you read? Can you understand what type of formula a math question is talking about without being told? They’re looking to test your logic and reasoning skills.

While a person with a high GPA may be good about memorizing facts or studying details, that really doesn’t always come into play on either the ACT or SAT.

GPAs Vary From School to School

The SAT, and later the ACT, were created to help open college to those who weren’t particularly wealthy. They’re standardized tests that are in place to help hold each student to the same standard.

One high school is not always academically equal to another, so GPAs can’t fully be the same. Some high schools are designed more like colleges, where you pick a field to study or focus on, while others give you a rounded education in all the subjects. It wouldn’t be fair to create a standardized test based in facts, when one student may have not studied the same subjects as you. The SAT and ACT are there to make sure you can think critically.

May Not Be Your Best Subject

The SAT includes sections on Math, Writing, and Reading, while the ACT also has an additional Science section. They both offer the option to write an essay. Your GPA may be strong, but if math isn’t your best subject, it could have an effect on your SAT or ACT scores.

Having a high GPA doesn’t mean you can skate by on these tests. You’ll definitely want to study and dedicate much of the time to your weaker subjects. Take practice tests, review your answers, and see how you can improve.

They’re Timed

Another way the GPA doesn’t equal a high SAT or ACT score is because these tests are timed. Students who take more time with their work may struggle with this at first, even though they score well in high school.

This is another thing you’ll want to work on. When taking the practice tests, make sure you time yourself. You want to give yourself the same amount of time you would have on the real deal. If you find you can’t reach all the questions, you’ll want to employ tactics, such as skipping the more difficult questions, to help improve your score.

A high GPA is a great thing, but it may not always mean a high score on the SAT or ACT. We all have weaker subjects or areas and the tests aren’t looking for knowledge. It’s important to approach these tests with a study plan in mind, even if you have a 4.0.

Check out how your ACT/SAT score affects your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

Hilary Cairns

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