College Admissions: 5 Ways to Overcome Low SAT Scores
Monday, July 11, 2011
1. The SAT is coachable
2. Try the ACT
Although it is less popular on the east coast, the ACT is accepted at ALL 4-year colleges in the US, and it is just as respected as the SAT. It is based more on your coursework in school, and can often be a better test for students who do well academically but have difficulty with standardized tests. Because it has less vocabulary, it can also be a more favorable test for students who struggle with the Critical Reading section of the SAT. The ACT is offered in September and throughout the school year. You can find more info at www.act.org.
3. Consider “Test Optional” colleges
There are more than 800 colleges in the US that do not require you to submit SAT (or ACT) scores. From Bowdoin and Middlebury in New England to DePaul in the Midwest and Pitzer in California, an array of top-notch colleges exist where your scores don’t have to affect your admission chances. Additionally, schools like NYU and Colby are adopting “test flexible” policies where you can elect to send scores from the SAT II, AP or other testing sources, instead of the SAT or ACT. For a list of SAT optional colleges, go to www.fairtest.org.
4. Look for colleges with lower SAT ranges
Not every college requires stellar SAT or ACT scores for admission. If your scores are low and you can’t find SAT optional colleges that you like, it’s time to look at colleges with a reasonable “mid 50% SAT/ACT range”. Websites like www.collegedata.com and www.collegeboard.com provide this data for each college.
5. Explain low scores on your application
The Common Application has a section that allows students to elaborate on any part of their academic or personal history that they feel a college should know about. If you have always been a strong student, but standardized testing makes you break out in hives, this is the place to explain that. It is a last resort, and probably won’t help you get into Harvard with 500s, but it’s worth a shot at some schools.
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.
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