More telling: a GPA or SAT/ACT score?

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Getting in to college is the height of many students’ academic careers. Being admitted to the college of one’s dreams begins freshman year if not before. So much work goes in to high school, and for many, getting in to a good college is the reason they work so hard.

Yet, colleges are becoming increasingly more selective. The whole admissions process is much more competitive. In 2004, Harvard’s acceptance rate was a hair lower than 10 percent. Now? It’s 5.9 percent. For every thousand who apply, 59 get in.

For those who dream of attending prestigious universities such as Harvard, high school is no joke. To get in to one of these universities, a student has to be near perfect. With the average un-weighted GPA at a 3.86, there is not much room for error.

The same is said for test scores. The average ACT score of students being admitted to Harvard is a 32, and the average SAT is a little over 2,100. Needless to say, there is a lot of pressure on students to do well.

But which of the two is more important?

There are arguments for both sides of the debate. A student’s GPA is the culmination of a lot of work, thousands of hours in the class room. On the contrary, a standardized test is only four hours.

Although a standardized test is a lot less time, it is standardized. The ACT and SAT tests are the easiest way to compare a student’s ability. Everyone takes the same test. There is no way to manipulate a SAT score.

With a standardized test, a college admissions officer can compare two students from different states or even different countries.

On the contrary, inflated GPAs are more than an occasional occurrence. GPAs differ from school to school. Some schools are much easier and hand out A’s, whereas some schools are tougher and make it hard to get an A.

College admission officers generally do not know a lot about an applicant’s school. They do not have time to figure out the inflation that a student’s school has. Because of this, the GPAs have slightly less value.

According to Vicki Wood, a writer for, college admissions officers say that GPAs are more important, but they value test scores more in practice.

Although SAT and ACT scores are usually valued more, GPAs are a good indication of work ethic and consistency.

An application with a 2,000 SAT score and a 3.75 GPA is great because it shows that a student works hard and is smart. It just becomes suspicious to schools when they see an extremely high GPA and an average standardized test score.

Some may complain that the GPA is less valued in admissions; however, with the grade inflation that occurs, the admissions officers have to question the GPA’s validity.

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