“Generally, nothing carries more weight in admissions than grades (plus strength of the high school curriculum) and ACT/SAT scores.” Reading the recent NY Times article “What Colleges Want
College admissions craziness is about to be sprung upon Connecticut high school juniors. If you are a parent, you will start touring colleges and you will hear the following:
Most every college representative will say: “We look at candidates holistically and test scores are just one of the factors….”
Parents and students are so eager for this to be true that they are willing to believe that this will be true in their case.
Let me clear: for those with “HOOKS” – test scores need to reach the minimums required for those with their particular hook (i.e. athletes must reach a standard that is lower than the mean of the school but still has a baseline) but test scores do not need to be maximized. Hooks include athletics, VIP/legacy, and underrepresented minorities.
For those who do not have such hooks, then test scores matter a great deal.
Moreover, due to rampant grade inflation, test scores have unofficially become more important at many elite schools. “Why?” I recently asked one of my admission contacts. “Because everyone has an A average now” he responded.
While hyperbolic, this seems to be the case when I work with students applying to elite schools.
In separate posts, I’ll comment on the other huge advantage of test scores: merit aid money is highly tied to test scores.
Regardless, test scores matter for college admissions. While there are exceptions, don’t listen to those who tell you otherwise.