AdmissionsJanuary 28, 2016
How Do Colleges View Good Test Scores but Not-So-Good GPA?
Question: Do colleges look for improvement? Can a high ACT/SAT Score help me during admissions if my GPA is low? I went from a 2.4 uw GPA and a 2.6 w GPA freshman year to a 2.85 uw GPA and 3.4 w GPA midway Junior year.
Yes and yes ... with qualifications.
<p>High test scores can <em>sometimes</em> help compensate for a low GPA ... but commonly not at the most sought-after colleges. So “The Dean" should really be saying “It depends" rather than a flat-out “Sure." Some admission officials, eager to boost their institution's median test statistics, will accept a student who has scored well on standardized tests, even if his or her GPA is sub-par. But many colleges—especially those that turn away more candidates than they accept and where the median test scores are <em><i>already</i></em> high—are NOT impressed by big test numbers unless good grades go with them. In fact, having high test scores and a so-so GPA can often <em><i>hurt </i></em>an applicant because admission officials may feel that the student is slacking.</p><p>What will actually work in <em><i>your</i></em> favor the most is your ever-improving GPA. If your record continues to rise through next fall—the first semester of your senior year--the college folks will focus on your more recent grades and not those you earned as a freshman or sophomore. So when seeking colleges that will be realistic options for you, you can certainly consider places where the average admitted-student GPA is in line with your junior and senior GPA and not with your grades in 9 and 10, especially if your test scores are at or above the norm.</p><p>So keep up the good work. Although strong SAT or ACT results are always a plus, admission officials do look most closely at the transcript and not at the tests.</p>
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