Do Your SAT Scores Really Matter for College?

January 25, 2021 · 6 minute read

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Do Your SAT Scores Really Matter for College?

During the 2018-2019 school year, almost 50 accredited universities and colleges announced plans to drop the SAT requirement for admissions. All in all, over 1,000 high-education institutions in the US have dropped the requirement. But, according to CollegeBoard, 2.2 million students took the SATs in 2020.

The SAT might be dropping as a requirement for admissions consideration, but the number has an impact beyond just getting into a school. Read on to learn how SAT requirements are changing, but why the score is still as important as ever.

How SAT Requirements Are Changing

The number of colleges dropping SAT scores from admission consideration is growing. However, policies change from school to school and from admission year to admission year, so students might want to double and triple-check before assuming that their dream school doesn’t want to see their standardized test score.

While some schools no longer consider their applicants’ SAT scores at all, others are making it easier to put your best foot forward with scores. Many colleges and universities, including the common application, now allow applicants to submit their SAT superscore.

An SAT superscore is an applicant’s highest Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores added together. It’s the highest section scores, instead of the overall score of one test.

For some, this takes off some of the pressure of standardized testing. It means if a student feels off on one section, they can use a higher score from a previous test to get their best score possible.

Another big change around schools accepting SAT scores actually revolves around the SAT subject tests. Once more commonly required by competitive universities, the SAT subject tests are more optional than they once were.

Some schools are moving toward a more flexible policy on subject tests, while others, including MIT, are omitting the requirement completely.

However, submitting subject tests is still “strongly encouraged” by schools like Penn, Georgetown, Princeton, and others. Applicants should consider reading each school’s requirements thoroughly to ensure they’re submitting their most complete application. The more information a student provides in an application, the more likely the admissions board can get a full picture of them.

If an applicant feels particularly strong in a few subjects, they might be able to use that to their advantage. Some schools now accept SAT subject tests instead of an SAT score. These flexible test guidelines, used at Colorado College in addition to other schools, allow students to submit AP test scores, SAT subject test scores, and IB scores instead of the traditional SAT or ACT scores.

Requirements around submitting SAT scores are not as strict as they once were. Students have the option of picking and choosing their best section scores to create a superscore, or they might even be able to take the SAT subject tests in lieu of the SATs. What’s more, some schools no longer require standardized testing at all to be considered.

These policies could help give students who don’t perform as well in standardized testing a leg up in the application process, but all applicants should consider reading over requirements at each school carefully.

How SAT Scores Still Matter

Colleges and universities might be changing their guidelines about requiring SAT scores, but standardized tests still matter not only in the admissions process but beyond.

Here are some reasons why the SAT and a student’s score still matters:

•  Avoiding the SAT could limit options. A student’s target school might not require an SAT score, but what about their safety or reach options? Bypassing the SAT test altogether could end up limiting a student in where they can apply to schools. With no test score at all, they may be limited to schools that don’t require an SAT score, potentially missing out on another great option for them. Forgoing the SAT test completely could mean dramatically cutting off a student’s options before the application process even begins.
•  Considered, but not required. Some schools no longer require SAT scores for applicants, but will still consider them if submitted. Sharing SAT scores can help give admissions officers a more comprehensive picture of the applicant. In addition, if the school is particularly competitive, a strong standardized test score could help a student stand out.
•  Scholarship eligibility. Some universities and nonprofits require an SAT score when applying for merit scholarships. Without an SAT score, applicants might be ineligible, losing on an opportunity to get funding for education.
•  They’re just a piece of the puzzle. SAT scores aren’t the only thing college admission boards consider. They’ll also look at a student’s GPA, extracurriculars, essays, recommendations, and more. No applicant is just a number, and the SAT score is only one small part of a student’s profile. Oftentimes, the score serves only as a screening tool in the beginning and is considered less and less the further a student progresses in the admissions process.
•  Testing out of college courses. Applicants might not need SAT scores to apply to a school, but providing them might make them eligible to test out of core classes . In some schools, SAT scores might determine placement into, or out of 101 classes all students are required to take. Testing out of these courses could lead to graduating faster or spending less on higher education.

While students might not need an SAT score to get into their dream school, preparing for and taking a standardized test could help them secure admission, scholarships, and entry into higher-level courses.

Another Number that Matters: Financing Your Tuition

A student’s SAT score isn’t the only number they’ll have to consider during the admissions process. Another important figure is the cost of tuition, and students will have to start thinking of how they can pay for their education.

On top of federal student loans and scholarships, students might consider private student loans. SoFi’s private student loans offer easy, fee-free private student loans that students can repay their way with flexible repayment options in addition to competitive rate parent student loans.

In a partnership with Edmit, SoFi is providing members access to Edmit Plus for free. Edmit’s data-driven tools help students determine the value of education, and which school might be the right fit. Edmit Plus includes:

•   Personalized scholarship and merit estimates
•   Recommendations and reports for school using data-driven insights
•   Tools for financial planning
•   Post-graduate planning tools, including salary estimates by major and industry

The importance of SAT scores vary school by school, but every student will likely need to consider how they can finance their education. Learn more about the resources available with SoFi.

Interested in a private student loan? Apply for one with SoFi today!

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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