This is one of the most common myths associated with college admissions. The truth is high test scores are only one of many factors that are used to evaluate college applications. The admissions committee will also take a look at your academic grades, personal essay, extracurricular activities, recommendation letter and extent of community involvement before making the decision to accept you.
If there is one component of the application that can be considered absolutely crucial, it is your overall GPA. This is reflective of your academic performance over a period of 4 years, while your test scores only demonstrate your performance on a 3-hour test. However, neither outstanding academic grades nor stellar test scores can guarantee admission in isolation. It is your overall achievements that matter.
Essays and Letters of Recommendation
Some people think that the written elements of an application don’t matter as much, but they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Essays and letters are paramount, and can sometimes sway a decision one way or the other. These are chances to show the admissions staff who you are, beyond the classroom and test scores.
Activities play a big role in the admissions process. (And by the way, more activities is not better. Colleges prefer to see a few activities that you’re really dedicated to). Extracurricular activities can teach plenty of life lessons, applicable skills, and immerse you into a community—all traits that colleges love to see. So what do you enjoy? Choir, debate, basketball?
Test Scores are Still Important
Having said that, it is important not to leave anything to chance. Strive to do your best both in your high school exams and in the SAT and / or ACT. While they may not guarantee admission on their own, doing well and getting high scores could just tilt the scales in your favor if the admissions committee has to choose between two applicants who are tied for a place in the same program.
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