College Admissions: SAT Myths Busted
Monday, January 05, 2015
As your child heads into standardized test season, make sure you're armed with the facts.
Myth #1: Colleges only see the scores I decide to send them.
This is often accompanied by rumors like “it doesn’t matter how many times I take the SAT because colleges won’t see it” or “I will just focus on one section of the SAT at a time because colleges will take my highest score for each section.”
Reality: Score choice does exist for the SAT, HOWEVER colleges set their own rules on what scores they require. These regulations are then programmed into the Collegeboard system and go into effect when you send your score reports. Some colleges do allow you to cherry pick the scores you send, but others require all scores, and still more use “highest overall test date.” A few of the more popular colleges that require all test scores include: Cornell, Georgetown, Stanford, Tufts, U. Maryland, UPENN and all the University of California campuses. While many of these colleges state that they will still “superscore” (use the highest section from any test date), the jury is still out on why they want all the scores. Some surmise that they want to see how many times a student took the test, and others believe that they want to see what the increase was due to test prep (so that students who can’t afford test prep are not disadvantaged in the process). Most believe it is simply in the interest of making certain that they have all the correct data to select the highest scores.
Myth #2: I don’t need to take SAT II Subject Tests.
Myth #3: Colleges respect the SAT more than the ACT.
Reality: All four year colleges in the U.S. now accept the ACT, and it is highly regarded. Some admissions professionals will even tell you that they prefer it over the SAT because it is based more on coursework and better reflects how a student will perform in college. From a student perspective, the ACT will fulfill the need for SAT Is and SAT IIs at many colleges. I recommend that all students take the ASPIRE (pre-ACT) or a diagnostic ACT to see whether the SAT or ACT is a better test for them. Several sites offer free full length practice ACT tests.
The bottom line is that you need to understand the landscape surrounding the SAT I , SAT II and ACT before you take the tests. Arm yourself with facts, not rumors, and set your testing schedule well in advance. The best time to begin taking the SAT is in March of junior year. If you wait until May or June, you will be deluged with SAT Is, SAT IIs, final exams, AP exams, proms and sports playoffs all at once. You also won’t have any backup test dates if you get sick on test day. So, plan now for a successful testing season!
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.
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