The importance of your SAT score depends heavily on what type of school you apply to.
- Community college? Yes.
- State school? Yes.
- Selective College? A fair amount
- Ivies? Not much.
The more selective the college, the less your academic qualifications matter in deciding whether you’ll be admitted.
Having a high SAT score is just the first step in getting into a selective institution. It won’t be what tips the admissions decision in your favor. (Image Source)
Why is that?
Well, once you get to the level of applying to Yale/Princeton/Stanford/Harvard, almost every applicant has a high SAT score, high GPA, and high AP/IB scores.
For example, in 2018 over 28,000 students scored a 2200+ on the SAT, which is equivalent to a 1520 on the new SAT.
There are roughly 2,000 acceptances at each Ivy League university. Thus, there wouldn’t even be enough space for all students who scored a 2200+ on their SAT even if Ivy League colleges only considered applicants with at least that score.
Average SAT score of enrolled students at America’s top universities. (Image Source)
Selective colleges don’t want to admit a class of academic grinds. They want students who are capable of excelling intellectually, sure.
But, more importantly, they want to admit students who will change the world and become the leaders of tomorrow.
Scoring highly on your SAT checks the first box — it’s a great start.
But it’s just a start. 10,000’s of other students have also checked that box.
You won’t be admitted to a selective college based solely on a list of numbers. Otherwise, there would be no point to applying to college — if that were the case, they could just run a computer program that instantly sorted students based on their SAT/GPA numbers and not bother with the whole process of applying to college.
But they don’t.
You won't be accepted to an elite college because of your standardized test scores. (Image Source)
And that’s because test scores only tell part of your story.
Test scores are a reason to reject a candidate, not a reason to accept a student.
What will differentiate your application is everything besides the numbers: the essays, the teacher recommendations, the extracurriculars.
As a friend of mine who’s worked in the Harvard’s Admissions Office told me, an applicant’s "Personal Qualities" rating is the single most under-rated aspect of the Harvard application.