Standardized Test Scores

GPA and Standardized Test Scores are the reflectors of a student’s caliber. Sometimes they may not go hand in hand. One can assume performing well in one and bad in the other. You may be wondering what affect it may have in your college application if this case ever occurs to you. Assuming two possible cases, there  

High Test Scores and Low Grades

Having simply a great test scores won’t get you into your top-choice college. Most of the candidates at top schools have high test scores and high GPAs, so you may appear lazy or unmotivated in comparison, since your test scores will show that you have the skills and aptitude—but it looks like you are not applying them.

You might have had poor grade due to many reasons. You might have had low grades because of a physical or mental, family concerns or obligations, or some sort of emergency situation in high school. The colleges may likely understand the problem if you explain it. If your recommenders are aware of your situation and can speak to it, ask them to reference it in their letters of recommendation to give credibility to you and your application.

High Grades and Low Test Scores

High-achieving students can often be disappointed by their standardized test scores. There are numerous reasons why your scores might be low even if you have a high GPA.

Criteria of grades can vary considerably. Since all high schools are different, what their grades represent can vary. While having a 4.0 GPA and receiving poor test scores doesn’t necessarily mean you just go to an easy school, the rigor of your classes—and what the grades truly represent—could be one factor.

Anxiety also can be a factor responsible for such gaps in many students. Many students have excellent knowledge on various things, but cannot perform well in the standardized tests because of test anxiety. You need to keep yourself calm and relaxed as much as you can. You can also contact your guidance counselor or a therapist if you have such problems.  

Standardized test can have negative impacts on students, according to some colleges. What students do in an examination hall for a few hours cannot be the reflector of their talent and ability. You might have agreement with the college’s view, but it isn’t necessarily a good idea to only apply to schools that don’t require the SAT or ACT, since just because the college doesn’t require your scores doesn’t mean it doesn’t consider them. Many applicants will submit their scores regardless of the schools’ requirements (or lack thereof), and your applications may appear weaker if you don’t.

Keep in mind that the ACT content is more closely linked to high school curricula than that of the SAT, so if you struggle with test-taking but perform well in school, try taking both standardized tests. You may find that you perform better on one than other.

Upward Grade Trend

If your grades started off low at the beginning of high school but improved over time, this can reflect well on you. Many students who struggle with their grades initially perform well in later years of their high school.  

Still, it’s a good idea to justify why this happened, but even if you just naturally improved with experience, it’s better than having uniformly poor grades or starting out high and dropping over time.

The Importance of GPAs and Standardized Test Scores

Ultimately, both your GPA and test scores matter. You should aim to maximize both. However, if you do have a legitimate reason for high test scores and a low GPA, colleges may understand — you just need to explain it to them. If your grades are high, but your test scores are low, you have many options to improve. 


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