How the SAT Can Help You Stand Out on College Applications … And Keep Your Options Open
If you’re in high school and starting to think about college, you may be getting some confusing messages. Many colleges have adopted test-optional admissions policies, which means submitting an SAT score isn’t required. Maybe you don’t love taking tests, so you’re narrowing your college search so that you won’t have to. Maybe you don’t mind tests but aren’t sure it will make a difference. Maybe you don’t really care, but you have so much else going on that something’s got to give.
Below are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether to take the SAT.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Chances are that your dream school gets more applicants than they can admit. Lots of students may have the same high school GPA, the same extracurricular activities, and even the same essay writing skills as you. The SAT can help you stand out. Beyond the numbers, this test is your opportunity to tell colleges who you are, what you excel at, and why you’re a standout candidate. You may find that as you get closer to application deadlines that your college list has changed—so don’t limit yourself by not taking the test. It’s just one part of the application process, but it’s an important way to showcase your unique strengths. Think of it as your passport to get you noticed.
Keep Your Options Open
The SAT can be a powerful tool in keeping your college options open. In addition to making your application more competitive, a strong SAT score may even open doors to scholarship opportunities. And it doesn’t end there. At some colleges, an SAT score can help you place out of certain general education requirements like math or writing—so you can skip ahead to the courses that matter most to you and to your major. And some colleges will require admitted students to take the test anyway so that they can be placed into the right levels of those classes.
Take Advantage of Score Choice
The SAT is unique in that it offers a "Score Choice" option, allowing you to select which scores you send to colleges. Take advantage of this feature to showcase your best performance. Even if you take the test multiple times, colleges will only see the scores you choose to send, giving you control over how you present your academic abilities. And if you decide in the end not to send your score at all, that’s ok too.
Remember, the SAT is a chapter in your college story, not the whole book. Use it as an opportunity to align with colleges that appreciate your strengths. A well-rounded application will help you stand out.