|Written by thechronicler|
Intro: Getting a good score on the SAT or the ACT is very helpful for your college prospects, and it can be a fair estimate of how well you are prepared for college-level work. You also have better chances of gaining admission to a more prestigious school if you score above a minimum level on one of these standardized tests.
High scores can also increase the number of merit scholarship options open to you. The possibilities sound nice, but the reality is that not all of us are good test-takers; we may suffer from test anxiety, the test material is unfamiliar, or any number of other reasons.
Getting a low score is not the end of the world, and less-than-stellar ACT or SAT score will absolutely not shut you out of higher education opportunities. You can still get a quality college education without high test scores; the only real difference is the route you may need to take to get there.
Step 1: Intervene early if possible. If you are in 11th grade (10th grade in some cases), you are eligible to take the PSAT as an indicator of how well you may perform on the SAT or ACT. If you score poorly on the PSAT, you still have some time to make improvements.
Look at your scores in each test subject, such as math and writing, and talk to your teachers, parents, and guidance counselor about what you can do to raise those scores.
Possible options include after-school tutoring, SAT prep classes, or switching to a college-prep level class in English or math if your school will allow it. If the school admins say "no" to the college-prep classes, the first two options are your best bet.
Step 2: Retest if possible. If you score poorly on the SAT or ACT the first time, you may be able to retake your exam in time for the application deadlines at your colleges of choice. Retesting after completing a test-preparation course carries the best chances of improving your score.
Step 3: Look into schools that do not weigh test scores that much. Plenty of high caliber colleges and universities now consider academic records and extracurriculars more than standardized test scores. More admissions officers now consider the whole package when it comes to applicants, and playing up your other strengths can increase your chances of admission.
Step 4: Consider test-optional and open-admission schools. Lists of colleges that do not require standardized test scores are available from several of online sources. The number of schools that have done away with test score requirements is also growing each year. If none of these schools is located near where you live and you want to stick close to home, another option is a local community college, many of which have open admissions.
While it may not be your first choice, your test scores will not be an issue, the classes will be far less expensive, and you can transfer to your four-year school of choice after completing a two-year degree.
Tips: If you feel unprepared for these standardized tests, take a look at possible reasons for this situation.
If you think your high school courses are not adequately covering the material that appears on the SAT or ACT, after-school test prep courses can help fill in those gaps.