SATs are the bane of many a high school student’s existence. While we can go back and forth on the relative merits and deficiencies of standardized testing, it is the reality for college admissions.
But, is you have low SATs or simply don’t test well, is there anything you can do about it?
The situation is one that every high schooler knows: you (or someone you know) is a great student. A 4.0 GPA. Honors and AP classes across the board. An impressive smorgasbord of extracurricular activities. Referred to as “well-rounded” and a “natural leader.” However, this person has a black mark that stains their otherwise pristine application–mediocre to bad SAT scores. Only a few years ago, this students’ options would be quite limited. But with admissions at many institutions becoming more holistic, options do exist.
The first and best option is to consider a school that is test score optional. This will allow you to shine on the other parts of your application. Plus, if you take a look at this list there are some very respectable academic institutions on it.
Prep, prep, prep. Contrary to popular belief, the SAT does not measure intelligence–it is not an IQ Test. Instead, it tests how well you can take the SAT test. A motivated student can substantially increase his or her score through diligent preparation. This does not have to be through an expensive (and unnecessary) testing company like Princeton Review or Kaplan. I would recommend investing $12.42 (plus shipping and handling) in the Official SAT Study Guide; the only book published by the College Board.
Try taking the American College Testing or ACT. Some students find that they score better when taking the ACT. Interested? Check out the available ACT testing dates.
Focus on the non-numerical aspects of your application. Convince the admissions committee that you are more than just a set of data. You need to emphasize this through your personal statement, essays, and interview.
Just because you are a low test taker does not mean you need to apologize for the fact or even settle for an inferior school. The important thing is to identify that this is the weak link of your application and be proactive.