Article written by College Matchpoint
The college admissions process can be extremely stressful for high school students, and standardized testing is often a major source of that stress. As a parent, it’s normal to feel confused about how important these tests really are and how much emphasis your child should place on them. There are so many myths and misconceptions around testing that it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction. As your child prepares to apply to college, standardized test scores will likely play some role in the process. However, it’s important to understand the facts so you can help your student navigate testing in a healthy way. As a parent, arming yourself with accurate information is the best way to relieve some of the stress around testing and properly advise your high schooler.
Myth 1: Every college requires SAT or ACT scores.
Fact: This is no longer the case. Over 90% of colleges and universities are now test-optional, meaning students can choose whether or not to submit test scores with their application. Scores are not required for admission at most schools.
Myth 2: High test scores guarantee admission to top colleges.
Fact: While strong scores can help, they do not guarantee admission anywhere. The most selective colleges use a holistic review process and look at factors beyond grades and test scores, like extracurricular activities, essays, and recommendations. High scores alone are not a golden ticket.
Myth 3: Low test scores will ruin your child’s chances.
Fact: Many admissions officers understand that test scores are not always indicative of a student’s potential. Low scores do not necessarily eliminate someone from consideration, especially if other aspects of their application are strong. Test-optional policies also allow students to avoid submitting low scores.
Myth 4: Taking a test prep course will guarantee a high score.
Fact: Commercial test prep can help students practice and improve their scores, but there are no guarantees. Success on these standardized tests depends on a variety of factors including a student’s baseline ability level and how much effort they put into preparing through practice tests and focused study.
Myth 5: You must take the SAT or ACT multiple times.
Fact: There is minimal score improvement after the second attempt, so most students do not need to take these tests more than twice. Additional attempts may help, but also require more time and money. Students should focus instead on putting effort into other important aspects of college applications.
The decision of whether to take standardized tests, and how much emphasis to place on scores, is a personal one each student must make. As a parent, you can help your child understand the facts and make the choice that is right for them. Scores are far from the only factor in college admissions today.