How important is your SAT score by chen31

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									How important is your SAT score?
        You probably know already that if you earn a high score on the SAT, you will
attract the attention of colleges and universities, inspiring them to mail you their glossy
brochures in hopes that they can fill their incoming class with students like you. Yes, the
SAT reasoning test is designed to indicate a student's academic performance, but it's
easy to forget that your SAT score is of interest to more than just the deans of admission
of the world. A high SAT score is also a valuable asset for students applying for
financial aid and scholarships. In other words, if you devote long hours to preparing for
the SAT, you may be able to turn your hard work into cash. Many financial aid and
scholarship programs, especially merit-based programs, will give considerable
preference to students who have performed exceptionally well on the SAT.


        Like colleges, financial aid and scholarship programs each have their own ideas of
what makes a student worthy, which is why they want to know all about you, and why they
have the frustrating expectation that you should put your whole life down on paper for them
to judge. Most of them consider the same three criteria--GPA, extracurricular activities, and
SAT scores--though some will emphasize one over the others.


        But as tuition prices rise, more and more students (and their parents) clamor for the
limited supply of financial aid available to them. That means the people who have to decide
which students get their money now have more and more applications to consider. They
need a way to narrow down the options quickly. That's one reason why SAT scores are
taking on more and more significance: it takes far less time to read 500 SAT scores than to
read 500 paragraphs about extracurricular activities. Besides, many readers can afford to
throw away the applications that don't feature an SAT score over 2200 because after they do
so, there will still be plenty of applications left.


        Of course, a student's GPA, like his or her SAT score, does come in the form of an
easy-to-read number, but those who award merit-based scholarships want to be objective,
and so they may veer away from selecting their recipients based on GPA. They understand
that GPA is, to an extent, subjective. Some teachers grade more leniently than others, and
a student who carries a 3.7 GPA might have had a 4.0 if she'd had different teachers or
gone to a different school. To many people who award scholarships, an SAT score makes a
more attractive metric simply because, for whatever flaws it may have, the test offers
something invaluable: a standardized scoring system. Either a student chose the right
answer and gained a point or chose a wrong answer and lost a quarter of a point. There are
no messy questions about whether the student earned a high score by charming a proctor.
       The connection between SAT scores and scholarship/financial aid programs varies
from program to program, but it is worth examining in general terms. Not all financial aid
programs are merit-based, but many still require solid SAT scores for eligibility. Because
each college has its own financial aid programs and policies, it's a good idea to check out a
school’s policy before applying. However, the majority of schools still do use the SAT and
other standardized test scores to determine eligibility. In fact, the National Association for
College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) recently found that nearly four out of five schools
relied on these scores in their applications for merit-based aid programs. The good news is
that if a student is accepted by a school that claims to be need-blind, that student’s SAT
score should be enough to award her whatever financial aid she needs.


       Of course, students can collect financial aid from sources other than their colleges or
universities. There is a plethora of merit-based scholarships available from philanthropists,
corporations, and non-profit organizations who wish to reach out to their favorite subset of
the best and brightest. No matter how unusual a student’s interests, there’s usually a
scholarship to match. For example, vegetarian community leaders can apply for a $10,000
scholarship from the Vegetarians Resource Group, and skilled accordionists may win $1,000
from the American Accordion Musicological Society.



       Not all merit-based scholarships rely heavily on SAT scores to determine a student’s
eligibility, but many do. The National Merit Scholarship, for instance, establishes a first
round of finalists by looking at scores from the PSAT, an optional test before the SAT. And
even the most activity-specific scholarships, such as athletic scholarships, look at a student’s
SAT score.



       Merit-based scholarship programs are notoriously selective, many even more so than
the majority of colleges, and chances are good they will include SAT score as a key
criterion. As important as the SAT is for college applications, a high score can be just as
essential for students who seek financial aid. So next time you pull out your flash cards,
study right triangles, or write a timed essay to practice for the test, think of all the college
money that could be yours because you pushed yourself to get a higher score.

								
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