Test Prep

Convert Your Test Score Into Scholarship Money

Callum T/Unsplash

You may be wondering whether you really need to put much effort into preparing for the SAT or ACT, since many college advisors say that test scores are only one of the many factors that admissions committees look at when they review your application. But one great reason to care about your SAT or ACT score, regardless of its impact on your application, is the possibility of using it to get more scholarship money.


There are many schools around the country where incoming freshmen have a good chance of winning scholarship money based on their SAT or ACT score. Of course, the scholarship committees won't only be looking at your test scores – the strength of your GPA and/or class rank will also be taken into consideration for merit-based scholarships. Still, these types of scholarships don't require a tremendous amount more from you – like a separate essay or an interview – to be considered. In fact, some schools will automatically give you money if you meet the requirements of high test score and high GPA or class rank. How about that for some test prep motivation? Let's take a look at three schools that offer such merit-based scholarships:

Texas Tech University

For incoming freshmen at this school, the higher your SAT or ACT score, the more money you get from one of their Presidential Scholarships. But you'll need a minimum GPA of 3.0, and your class rank will also be taken into consideration – the lower your SAT or ACT score, the higher your class rank must be. For example, an SAT score of 1100 to 1190 or ACT score of 22 to 24 will qualify you for $1,000 per year (renewable each year as long as your college GPA remains above 2.0) in scholarship money, but you must be in the top 20 percent of your class. However, if your SAT score is 1200 to 1290 or your ACT score is 25 to 27, you can qualify for $2,000 per year, as long as you are in the top 30 percent of your class.

As you can see, just a few extra points to the next test score category can double the amount of scholarship money you win. And if you happen to score between 1400 and 1490 on the SAT or between 31 and 33 on the ACT, the school could give you $6,000 per year – and in this case, with such a high test score, your class rank needs only to be in the top 50 percent. If your test scores are even higher than this, you can remain in the top 50 percent of your class, but the scholarship money increases to $8,500 per year.

Just be sure you have enough time to study well and submit your best test scores. From the Texas Tech website: "The priority Scholarship Application deadline is December 1. Applications received after December 1 will be considered in the order they are received for a limited number of awards." Check the website for more details on scholarship application requirements.

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Similarly to Texas Tech, Miami University in Ohio offers guaranteed scholarship money based on your test scores and high school GPA of at least 3.50. There is no separate application required, but you must apply for admission by December 1 to be considered for these merit-based scholarships.

With a 1230 to 1290 SAT score or 26 to 27 ACT score, Ohio state residents may qualify for $4,000 to- $12,000 over four years, while out-of-state applicants may qualify for $28,000 to $40,000 over four years. An SAT score between 1360 and 1440 or ACT score between 30 and 32 may win you a total of $20,000 to $48,000 (Ohio residents) or $56,000 to $80,000 (out-of-state applicants). And if you score even higher on your SAT or ACT, you can get anywhere from half up to the full tuition cost for your entire four years. Again, this is another example where boosting your SAT score just 10 points could make a difference of thousands of dollars.

University of Oregon

This school offers a sizable amount of scholarship money with the Summit Scholarship. You must have a minimum 3.8 GPA, and at least 1250 SAT score or 26 ACT score. Oregon residents receive $24,000 over for four years, while non-residents get $40,000 total over four years (more money because out of state tuition is higher). For the Apex Scholarship, the academic requirements are a bit lower, as is the amount of money – $12,000 total for Oregon residents and $30,000 total for non-residents. You must have a minimum 3.4 GPA and at least 1220 SAT or 25 ACT.

Neither of these scholarships require a separate application, but you'll need to apply for admission to the school by January 15, and your test scores will need to be on file by February 15. To keep the scholarship money coming in each year at University of Oregon, you'll have to maintain a 3.0 GPA.

As you research and apply for merit-based scholarships, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Some colleges that are giving away money for high test scores will NOT superscore – that means the scholarship committee may look only at the highest composite score from one single test date.
  • The writing portion of the SAT or ACT may not be required or considered.
  • Always double check the scholarship application requirements for each school on the website, or call the financial aid office for the most up-to-date information.
  • There may not be a separate application for the scholarship, but if your scores are high enough, you will be considered for the scholarship when your application for admission is being reviewed.

If you study hard, taking the SAT or ACT just once could be enough to win you some tuition money to the school of your choice, so be sure to check whether your target colleges offer merit scholarships based on your scores.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!