SAT Scores Really Matter

By College Advice

The creation of The Learning Consultants stemmed from a desire to help students reach their potential. That’s the mission.  “Academic potential” is, of course, our practical focus.  But the real mission is to help students reach their human potential.

Our work in becoming the best place for SAT, ACT, and other test prep was a by product of the mission but not the mission itself.  Helping students gain admission to their choice colleges was part of our way of practically helping students and SAT, ACT and other test prep was one way to do it.  We’ve always stayed out of the debate about whether the SAT or ACT should be considered an important part of college admissions.  That’s not our role.  We help students gain admission to college.  If excellence in the arts was critical, we would hire top art teachers.

In any event, colleges try to market themselves as looking at the “whole student” and most do… to a degree.  Grades and test scores are used as blunt instruments to separate most students.

The following is an excerpt from an article in Forbes on the importance of the SAT:

Despite all of this negative noise, standardized tests like the SAT still matter a lot to highly selective colleges. Two biggest reasons:  1) It is an effective way to screen out students when the number of  applications is overwhelming (Stanford reported 42,000 applications for roughly 1,700 freshman in the Class of 2018), and 2) Colleges admissions offices care a great deal about popular rankings like U.S. News & World Report’s and tests like the SAT have a fairly significant weighting in the formula. For executives running admissions offices at top colleges, moving up on U.S. News list is almost always recognized by the Board of Trustees, and this can mean good things during  bonus time.

The SAT and the ACT standardized tests cut through the smoke and mirrors created by different high school grading schemes and the fluffing of extracurricular activities. While officials at the Collegeboard would never call the SAT an Intelligence Quotient Test,it, in fact,was first developed as an Army IQ test in the 1920s, and it continues to correlate strongly with IQ tests. The most Collegeboard will currently say about the exam is that it is designed to assess academic readiness for college, measuring verbal reasoning and mathematical reasoning.

After witnessing first hand how much time and money parents spend, and the angst they endure, on things like high school sports or extracurricular activities or summer teen programs, I think test-only admissions policies might actually put an end to some of the madness going on at high schools these days. For some communities, like suburban New York City and Philadelphia, the $250,000 spent for four years at a private institution, is merely the culmination a flood of spending leading up to college acceptance.

In other words, you may think that the $4,000 you spent for junior’s community service vacation in Costa Rica will make all the difference to his top choice college, but in reality a summer at home studying for the SAT could have a better ROI.  Like it or not SAT scores remain the critical yardstick for top colleges and as it turns out a number of leading businesses like Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Co and hedge fund DE Shaw, actually want to know the SAT scores of the young candidates applying for jobs.  As a parent, you should also seek out  high SAT score schools for your kid because these “brighter” kids from affluent families often wind up creating better networking opportunities down the road.

So which colleges have students with the highest SAT scores? Below you will find an unfiltered ranking of the top 100 average SAT Critical Reading and Math scores reported to the government for the academic year starting in Fall 2013. ACT Composite scores are also listed for each school. The scores displayed are an average of 25th percentile and 75th percentile  scores so those  students in the college hunt would be wise to target schools where their own SAT scores are at least as high as those reported.