Most colleges abroad require students to take the SAT or ACT exam to apply for admission in undergraduate programs. In recent times due to pandemic, there are colleges that have temporally relaxed the requirement, but the importance of taking SAT/ACT still remains. How? Let us elaborate with the following points:
Universities and colleges receive thousands of applications each year from different parts of the world. The admission committee at every college has to look through each and every application to screen them for the next level. However, with limited time in hand going through the applications in detail becomes a challenging task. Applications with SAT/ACT scores stand out making it easier for the evaluators to narrow down on serious applicants. The admission committee views such applicants as committed ones with clear goals set in their minds. Submitting SAT/ACT scores with the application shows the efforts made by students to prepare for a competitive exam and score well in them. Also, as these competitive exams test critical thinking and reasoning skills their scores are reflective of readiness for the programs one wishes to study at college.
Schools that are test optional do not mandatorily require applicants to submit SAT/ACT scores with the admission application. It is up to the applicants to decide if their high school scores are good enough to reflect on their potential for the applied course and college. However, one can still include their SAT/ACT score with the application. It is a good idea to submit the scores as it helps the evaluators better understand the academic abilities of an applicant. For applications without the scores, the admission committee while evaluating gives greater weightage to other aspects of the application such as transcripts, essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation.
Additionally, such applicants may be required to take certain foundational programs like an American Degree Transfer Programme depending on the college and the nationality.
Post high school in an admission application GPA is one the most important factor to get through a college. A score of 4.0 is considered high, and good enough to be considered by reputed universities abroad. A low GPA score however can make things difficult for students who wish to study in a premier university abroad. In such cases, a high SAT/ACT score can help offset a low GPA. If the past performance in school has not been up to the mark, competitive exams like SAT/ACT provide an opportunity for students to prove their aptitude for the undergraduate program they wish to study at their desired college.
As these exams gauge the test takers’ problem solving, reasoning, and critical thinking abilities besides subject based knowledge such as Maths, Science, and English a high SAT/ACT score can help students with low GPA strengthen their admission application. This enables the applicants to enhance their academic transcripts, increasing the confidence of the evaluator in them to consider such applications for further considerations.
As an international student, for financial support, you would want to consider various scholarships offered by colleges and student supporting communities. In addition to your college applications, SAT and ACT scores can be used to apply for such scholarships. Being highly competitive scholarships are generally offered on the basis of merit. Some of the best known scholarships for undergraduate programs take SAT and ACT scores into consideration along with GPA and performance in extracurricular activities. Such scholarships have a min. ACT or SAT score requirement, for a student to apply for them. High scores along with GPA and coursework rigor increase the possibility of a student getting financial aid in the form of a scholarship.
While researching for colleges to apply for your undergraduate studies, along with university and college rankings, find out what kind of financial aid does the college offer and how many of them require SAT or ACT scores. Speak to college representatives and attend seminars/ webinars meant to give you details on the admission process, program requirements, and related details. Conducting comprehensive research at an early stage before applying to colleges, will help you make the right decision on how to prepare for SAT/ ACT as it helps you set your target goal.
In addition to advantages related to admission and scholarships taking the SAT and ACT helps students with building necessary academic skills required to excel in their studies at college. Both SAT and ACT test students on skills such as critical thinking, reasoning, and creative thinking & solution. These skills are important not just for studies but for taking placement decisions at a later stage. The scores help students see their subject wise strengths and weaknesses, a basis on which they can decide programs that are best suited to their ability. During these exams, students get consistent feedback that makes it easier for them to decide their future course of work.
Colleges too consider these scores to plan student classes and batches in a way that best serves the interest of the students. Basis the scores, students are grouped to learn not just from the faculty but from their peers as well, through group assignments and projects.
Taking the SAT/ACT exam is more advantageous for International students. When English is not your first language, demonstrating your comfort level with language makes your case stronger. You can use subject tests of these exams to demonstrate your strength. Many colleges still use subject tests to make decisions on class admission and placements at a later stage. Other than helping you with improving your chances of acceptance at a college, SAT/ACT scores open up other opportunities too for test-takers.
Taking the SAT /ACT exam helps in planning for your future career. Assessment and analysis of scores help students understand what sections they have scored well in, what is their comfort level with different subjects, and where do their interests lie? Everything put together, helps chart a roadmap for a future career, where one can explore programs and courses based on the factors mentioned earlier. A well thought through plan makes it easier for students to work their way through college with a clear vision of their career post-graduation.
When applying for your first future job you may not necessarily have an impressive job experience to showcase. Some students may have that advantage through a notable internship or other such project undertaken during the final year. If however, you don’t have job experience to showcase on your resume, your academic performance at college is something you will have to rely on heavily for employment. In such cases, if you have SAT or ACT scores to put on your resume it will make your case stronger. Employers will view you as a candidate who understands the importance and has a bent of mind for critical and creative thinking from the start. Such candidates are seen as potential ones for any organization.
Employers take decisions on an application, based on several factors such as GPA, rigour of coursework, participation and performance in extracurricular activities, internship performance in any, scholarships awarded, and confidence of a candidate in general. Employers may not necessarily ask for your SAT/ACT score during your placement interviews. However, in a pool of candidate applications without SAT/ACT scores, an application with the scores is bound to stand out. It talks about your serious efforts and focuses. If not directly, indirectly it shows your commitment and understanding of the desired goal. These are desirable skills for any employer as the corporate world requires one to possess soft skills and leadership qualities, along with subject knowledge to excel at the workplace. Such employees prove to be an asset for the organization and do well in their careers.
For the reasons mentioned above, it is still advisable to take the SAT/ACT exam. While due to pandemic many international colleges may have gone the test-optional way, it does not mean they undermine the value of SAT and ACT scores submitted with an admission application. These exams have been designed to not only gauge but prepare students for what is to come their way during the undergraduate study period at college. Apart from testing students on the skills, they will require during their undergraduate program, these competitive exams prepare students for future style and pattern of exams. This helps students with prior experience on SAT/ACT perform better than those who have no exposure to them.
You can decide on taking the SAT or ACT depending on your strength and areas of interest. Once you decide on which exam to take start your preparation as early as possible with a target score in mind. A target will make it easier for you to plan your study schedule and work with the right strategy. Need be you can retake the test to get the desired score required to get admission in a high ranking premier college that offers programs aligned with your future career plans.
The SAT is a standardized admission qualifying test owned, developed, and published by the College Board, a private, not-for-profit organization in the United States.
The ACT is a standardized entrance exam used by colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. It is a multiple-choice test administered by ACT, Inc.
A student wanting to pursue her/his undergraduate studies abroad can take the SAT exam to measure college readiness. The scores are submitted with the admission application at the applied universities.
Colleges either require SAT or ACT scores and express no preference for either test. Some colleges may be test-optional too. Until specified it is up to the student to decide which test to take depending on her/his comfort with the tested subjects and programs s/he wishes to study.
There is no age limit for the exams. However, as they are meant for admission to undergraduate courses abroad, students generally start preparing and taking the exams during their 11th /12th class.
The best way to prepare for SAT/ACT exam is the first to gauge your subject wise strengths and weaknesses. Basis which you need to look for the areas where you will require test preparation support. Look at the SAT/ACT course and decide on the best test preparation support like SAT/ACT coaching that will help you cover the SAT/ACT course/ syllabus with ample of practice to monitor your progress over a period of time.
The basic fee for the exam is $52, but it varies based on the country of the applicant. For Indian applicants, the fee for SAT is ~$106 (with written essay), or ~$94 (without essay).
ACT costs $46 with no writing component, with a writing component it will cost $62.50. International students have to pay an additional international testing fee of $57.50.
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