How important are the ACT and SAT in college admissions | Winward Academy


How important are standardized tests in college admissions?

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (2015), grades – specifically grades in college preparation classes – are the most important factor in college acceptance. And despite a recent trend towards less rigid testing requirements, ACT and SAT test scores remain a highly-considered factor in the college acceptance decision.



That’s a lot of numbers. The key takeaway is that over half of colleges report that test scores on the ACT or SAT are of “considerable importance” in the admissions decision. Nearly 28% consider the test scores of “moderate importance.”


Competitive Colleges

More competitive colleges will consider all or most of the above factors. At the most selective schools, impressive grades and high test scores are essentially boxes checked for the admission committee to spend time reading the students’ essays or letter of recommendation. The most selective schools also place consideration on a student’s first-generation status, race/ethnicity, and high school attended.


Moderately Selective Colleges

At moderately selective schools, test scores are considered a less heavily weighted part of the review. Essays, recommendations, and the interview may carry more weight, as these schools place greater emphasis on a more holistic, qualitative review of the applicant.


Large Public Universities

Many large public universities simplly don’t have time to give each application a thorough review and must place a heavier emphasis on numbers-based admissions. Consider that UCLA has over 100,000 applications, which requires that the admissions committee review ~1,500 applications per day.


Regardless of where students are applying, they’ll maximize their opportunities if they realize their full potential on standardized tests and submit ACT or SAT scores that make them competitive with others in the applicant pool. If you’re looking to achieve your best on the exams, check out Expert Tips to Master the ACT and SAT.


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About Winward Academy – Winward Academy is one of the world’s leading innovators in the online education space, providing web-based academic support that enhances students’ knowledge, confidence, and competitiveness in middle and high school academics and in college applications. We help thousands of students every year by providing personalized, comprehensive ACT and SAT test preparation and extensive math curriculum support. The Winward Academy learning platform honors over 40 years of education and cognitive psychology research, incorporating proven techniques that promote effective learning.

Winward Academy’s unmatched reputation is wholly attributable to our students’ exceptional success and to the trust earned among students, parents, and schools around the world.


Jennifer Winward, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Winward is a renowned college instructor, a distinguished 20-year veteran of high school tutoring, and the founder and lead instructor of Winward Academy. She earned her Ph.D. specializing in adolescent brain development and adolescent learning. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction honors. Dr. Winward has been widely recognized for her academic success, published research, and philanthropic efforts with awards from the President of the United States, the California State Assembly, Rotary International, the Marin County School Administrator Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation.

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