ACT & SATs Are Overrated


Kylie Tanimura

Jennesice Sueing (12) checks the Common App website, which is a platform that streamlines the college application process, providing resources and guidance to make college more accessible for students. Photo by Kylie Tanimura.

Kylie Tanimura, Voices

A great number of high school students have heard and know the pressure of the American College Testing (ACT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). Students spend countless hours preparing for the tests, putting a lot of money into tutoring, and taking extra practice tests to see those promising results. Why do colleges take the scores in the first place? Do people believe that the SAT and ACT correctly measure students’ academic knowledge and skills? Or do they serve as an objective, standard measure for colleges looking to compare students from around the country who are competing for acceptance?

Since 1926, standardized test scores have been the predominant factor in college admissions and student performance. Over the years, however, a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) has become a new contributing feature for college admissions. According to the UChicago Consortium, researchers found that the predictive power of GPAs is consistent across high schools, something that’s not held for test scores. Researchers also discovered no connection between a student’s ACT scores and eventual college graduation, and students with the highest ACT scores were less likely to succeed in college.

Even now, a growing number of colleges are abandoning the ACT and SAT scores as part of their admissions process. Admissions offices realized that great SAT scores don’t always make a great student, while poor scores don’t mean the student isn’t bright. The SAT focuses specifically on one’s Math, Reading, and Writing Skills; it does not demonstrate the student’s critical thinking capacity or creativity. According to the Army and Navy Academy, many top students have even admitted that the SATs and ACTs gave them anxiety, and they scored lower than they thought they would.

Additionally, pushing for no SAT or ACT scores on college applications advocates for increased diversity among students. According to the Hechinger Report, wealthier families live in wealthier school districts with more resources and can afford tutors to help with test preparation and other educational assistance. In 2016, the average ACT composite score was 23.6 for higher-income students and 19.5 for lower-income ones. According to a report by Insider Higher ED, the biggest score gaps were in reading; students with family incomes below $20,000 earned average scores of 433, while students with family incomes above $200,000 earned average scores of 570.

Still, many parents may say these tests are vital, and some colleges still believe the scores will determine college success. According to Carrollton- Farmers Branch, a strong score on the SAT may show colleges more potential than GPA if it doesn’t accurately reflect a student’s abilities. Also, having SAT scores could help families with a lower income help pay for college and make a student eligible for scholarships.

ACT and SAT should not be looked at in college admissions/applications. Admissions should not accept test-optional either because students who submit scores have a competitive edge in selective college admissions versus students who submit no scores.

Colleges, instead, can look at GPA, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and personal essays to show more in-depth knowledge on the student. It can show growth, capabilities, diligence, and a broader understanding of a student instead of just a standardized test score that doesn’t matter after getting into college.


Work Cited 

Cooper, Preston. “Should Colleges Abandon SAT Score Requirements?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 June 2021, 

“Do SAT and ACT Scores Matter?” Army and Navy Academy, 21 May 2019, 

Kate, Kate. “College Board to Cut Sat Essay Section and Subject Tests.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 19 Jan. 2021, 

“Test Scores Don’t Stack up to Gpas in Predicting College Success.” University of Chicago News, 

Tugend, Alina. “Questioning Their Fairness, a Record Number of Colleges Stop Requiring the SAT and Act.” The Hechinger Report, 8 Apr. 2021, 

Why the Sats Shouldn’t Be a Factor in College Admissions … 

“Why Your Test Scores Matter in College Admissions.” College Raptor Blog, 18 June 2021,