What role do ACT & SAT scores play in college admissions?

How do colleges and universities look at ACT & SAT scores? Why do colleges want ACT & SAT scores as a part of college admissions? The decision for many universities to adopt testing optional policies has stirred up many questions concerning the role of ACT & SAT within college admissions.  [See previous Testing Optional Blog Posts: Here & Here]

Recently, the University of Michigan clarified how they view ACT & SAT scores within admissions. Michigan is a university that is still requiring students to submit ACT & SAT scores but will be flexible if, due to test date cancellations, students were unable to take the ACT or SAT.

This statement provides a helpful perspective for why ACT and SAT scores are included within the college admissions process: 

“With applicants from over 9,000 high schools, presenting different academic curricula and course offerings, test scores provide valuable nationally normed information that helps us to understand academic performance and the environmental context of that performance so that we can best identify and support talented students to admit to our class.”

The University of Michigan’s statement sheds light on how many competitive universities view ACT & SAT scores as a helpful evaluative benchmark (they just haven’t said it as directly). Standardized tests are meant to be just that: standardized. While GPA can be influenced by grade inflation and course offerings, a standardized test allows a school to see how students measure up outside of their high schools’ evaluation systems. 

The University of Michigan goes on to explain that they understand the difficulty of the current situation and offer options for students unable to take the ACT or SAT due to the cancellation of ACT & SAT test dates during this pandemic. The statement makes clear that they will take the context of the ACT & SAT scores into consideration during their evaluation of applications:

“We are closely monitoring the availability of testing from the College Board (SAT) and ACT and are aware that they are adding testing dates to provide opportunities for those that need their ‘first’ score and for those who wish to retest. While we do not require it nor is it necessary, we are aware that students often take these exams more than once in order to better prepare and improve their scores; we are equally aware that many students have only one opportunity to test, many through their local high school. We have adequate information in the review process to understand when a student tested (i.e. early junior year rather than in senior year) relative to the courses they have pursued and performed in that enable us to properly assess their exams within that context.”

If you have additional questions concerning testing optional policies, test prep plans, or ACT/SAT, let us know. We are always happy to help!

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