SAT scores have a large bearing on scholarship decisions nationwide. Scholarship awards are weighed on academic achievement, sports abilities, volunteer hours and a variety of other factors. But a high SAT score can tip the scales in your favor if you are neck and neck with another student competing for the same scholarship.
If you have an impressive high school transcript and a high SAT score to go with it, the opportunities are virtually endless when applying for academic scholarships. If your SAT scores are mediocre or less than average, you may want to retake the SAT before seeking an academic scholarship award because your score may lower your chances of receiving a hefty scholarship award when compared to applicants with higher scores.
Another option would be to focus on another area of achievement, such as sports or music (sometimes known as the “talent factor” or talent-based scholarships). These scholarship opportunities are narrower, which betters your chance of success. If you decide to target your efforts towards talent-based scholarships, you should also realize that although the number of students applying is significantly lower than nationally offered scholarships, the talent of students might also be higher.
Standardized testing has become a benchmark for success over the years, in all areas of accomplishment. Civil service exams, professional certifications and college admissions all measure progress through standardized test results. Therefore, it stands to reason that scholarship opportunities would follow suit. SAT results are easily recorded and kept tamper-free through the College Board’s third party reporting system. Also, the SAT provides a nationwide standard that effectively levels the playing field for applicants. Simply stated, SAT scores make it easy for scholarship grantors to make award decisions.
What should you do, then, if your SAT scores are on the low end? If you have time, it may be best to retake the SAT and see if you can improve your score. Students usually score higher on subsequent tests, since they are more familiar with the SAT format and general content. If a second SAT score yields another low score, it may be time to look at other forms of financial aid. Grants and student loans are available across the country, but the rules and conditions vary according to state. Scholarships, grants and loans are only a means to a more important end – a college education. Worry less about the vehicle and concentrate more on the journey-it will be worth it, trust me!
The Best Time to Take the SAT
Many high school students struggle to find the best time to take the SAT. They need to time the exam just right so that they have enough time to study, so that they have acquired the skills needed to succeed, and so that they can meet college application deadlines. There are plenty of pitfalls for taking the test too early, or taking it too late.
Eleventh-graders might be motivated to take the SAT in the first half of their junior year, in October or November. This will give them more time to retake the test should they not be happy with their scores. However, taking the test in the fall of one’s junior year is probably too early.
The SAT Score Choice, in which students take the test multiple times in order to increase their chances of having outstanding scores before sending their highest scores to the schools of their choice, is not endorsed by all universities (Yes, really!!!). Not all schools will accept multiple scores from applicants and many students realize later (a little too late) that their dream school rejects score choice and instead opts for one score in entirety. Because the test is designed to examine the skills of eleventh- and twelfth-graders, juniors who take the test early on in their third year might not be as prepared as they would be if they waited until closer to the end of the year.
Make sure that if you do decide to take the test at this time, that you are comfortable with the test material and are fully prepared to take the exam (no “winging” it!!!!!!).
However, students also do not want to take the test too late. To meet most college application deadlines, students need to have taken the SAT in December of their senior year. Most students should not leave this most important requirement of their college application until the last possible minute, in the event that they experience an emergency and cannot make it to the test, for example (of if they do not receive the score they needed to apply to a number of their schools).
The perfect time to take the SAT, then, is in the spring of the student’s junior year, either March or May. This way the student will be finished or nearly finished with their third-year coursework, and will be a better match, skill-wise, to the questions on the test. They will also have the option to retake the test in the fall of their senior year, should they be dissatisfied with their scores.
Whenever you do decide to sign up for the test, remember to prepare fully and practice your test material during the weeks prior to test day (the date sneaks up on you if you are not paying attention). And remember- a prepared tester is a confident tester!