Many colleges require standardized test scores as a component of the application process, and many students fear a low SAT score might prevent them from getting accepted to their preferred university. However, a low score on the SAT isn’t a complete barrier to admission to most schools, and NPR reports that more than half of students who take the standardized test each year receive grades that indicate they aren’t fully prepared for college-level work. After receiving a poor SAT score, most students have a few options for increasing their chance of acceptance to college.
Take an Alternative Standardized Test
The SAT may be the most popular and well-known type of standardized test in modern education. Most colleges accept the SAT as part of a student’s application package, but the vast majority also accept the ACT in place of or as well as the SAT. Additionally, many colleges have no preference as to which test a student must submit, so a student with a bad SAT score could take the ACT and submit that score instead. Students who excel in math, science, reading, and English may wish to take the ACT, particularly if they aren’t as comfortable with the logic and reasoning sections required when taking the SAT.
Find a College without SAT Requirements
Examining the average college’s list of application requirements will usually show a list of familiar items like the official application, teacher recommendations, personal essay, and standardized tests. However, colleges do vary somewhat in their requirements, and some schools don’t require submission of standardized test scores. A student who received a low SAT score could expand his or her search for a suitable college by looking for institutions that don’t require standardized test scores. Whether a school does or does not require standardized test scores usually isn’t an indication of the school’s prestige or quality.
Take the Test a Second Time
A variety of issues may impact a student’s ability to receive a high test score on the SAT. Taking the test while sick, panicking during the test, and taking it while ill-prepared for the content may result in a lower-than-expected test score. Many colleges allow students to submit multiple test scores during the application process and will take the highest overall test score submitted. Some colleges will also take the average of all submitted test scores.
Transfer to Your Preferred College or University
Many schools don’t require standardized test scores during a transfer application. Also, schools that do require test scores may not place as much weight on scores for transfer students as they might for recently graduated high school seniors without any college experience. An article published by Penn State reveals that standardized tests may be a better indicator of whether a student will find success in college rather than whether the student might have the potential for success after graduation.
Each school to which a student wishes to apply will provide a list of required application materials on the school’s official website. Most colleges will also provide extra information on what a student should do in the case of a low test score. Getting in touch with the school’s admissions staff for clarification can help when a student receives a low SAT score and isn’t sure whether that score may prevent him or her from gaining acceptance at the school.