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Junior Toolkit

Section 5: Standardized Tests

“ Think of testing as just another part of the application, and certainly do not spend most of your weekends test-taking! Only retake a test if you feel you will significantly improve your scores. If your testing is in the right ballpark, then it probably will not be the deciding factor for your candidacy. In other words, don’t worry about trying to get that extra twenty points. Instead, spend your time on things that will help you grow as a person: school work, extracurricular opportunities, time with friends — the things that will give you a stronger sense of yourself and, as a result, make you a stronger college applicant. ”

- Yale University

Standardized Tests are important, but they're not the only factor admissions officers consider.” style=

How should I approach standardized tests?

Standardized tests are part of the college admissions process, but they’re not the most important part; your transcript is. How your test scores will be evaluated will depend on your college list. Some schools care about your test scores more than others. Some don’t require test scores at all. Each school on your list will treat tests differently. Know which tests are required so that you can plan ahead.

Some of the questions answered in this section's video:

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

What are SAT Subject Tests, and should I take them?

I’ve never tested well. Will that hurt me?


Video: Standardized Tests (3:18)

Keep Things In Perspective

  • Standardized Tests are just one component of the process, but they can be one of the most stressful. To mitigate this, try not to listen to the chatter around you… about who scored what on which test. Keep it about you.
  • Figure out which test works best for you–we’ve provided a Standardized Test Comparison Chart to help you do that–then set a date. Really prep for your tests the first time around–studying, taking practice tests, and seeking outside guidance if possible.
  • Then, give it your best shot.
  • Retake it if you must, but at some point you will reach a plateau, and you should move on.


Other Sections in the Junior Toolkit: