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What is the SAT?

Learn more about the purpose of the SAT and how you can excel!

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What is the SAT?

One explicitly stated purpose of the SAT is to predict how students will perform academically as college freshman. But the more practical purpose of the SAT is to help college admissions officers make acceptance decisions and to help financial aid officers make merit award decisions. When you think about it, admissions and financial aid officers have a difficult job, particularly when they are asked to compare the academic records of thousands of students from different high schools in different parts of the country taking different classes. It’s not easy to figure out how one student’s grade point average (GPA) in Oregon correlates with that of another student in Maryland. Even though a good deal of detective work to fairly evaluate candidates, admissions and financial aid officers benefit a great deal from considering ACT and SAT scores. Both of these exams provide a single, standardized means of comparison. After all, virtually every student takes either the ACT or SAT, and they are the same for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you hail from California, Oregon, Maine or Montana.

So, the SAT is a very important test. But it is not the be-all, end-all. Keep it in perspective! It is only one of several important pieces of the college admissions puzzle. Other factors that weigh heavily into the admissions process include GPA, difficulty of course load, level of extracurricular involvement, and the strength of the college application itself, including the personal statement and recommendations.

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