Mastering the SAT

College can be a big step for juniors preparing for the future, and getting accepted could be a tough process of figuring out what colleges are looking for in students. Some common questions students ask is if they would be able to get into college at all. There are a lot of factors that play a big role in acceptance, like GPA, SAT and ACT scores, IB and AP classes, and other achievements play an important role in acceptance.

Going to college can provide opportunities to get into professional careers through additional knowledge and time. Colleges vary in who they accept. Some IVY league colleges have very small acceptance rates. Some as little as 5 percent. According to, Harvard had 39,506 applicants, and they accepted 2,037 of the applicants.

“[SAT and GPA] carry the most weight and are the most important of all the things that we look at in the application,” Senior Associate Director of Admissions for MSU Mike Cook said. “Because it does help determine how well prepared you are for success in college.”

According to Cook, SAT scores are a major aspect that colleges look at. Some colleges have minimum standard scores in order to be accepted. So having a higher score may help with getting accepted, but there is still no guarantee.

“I think the SAT is important because it matters a lot to colleges, but it’s not the final adjudicator of if you succeed in the future or not,” senior Nihal Manjila said. “It’s simply a stepping stone that can help you achieve your goals in life.”

Grade point average is also a factor for college acceptance. This can help to show how well a student has done in their school career, and if they would be able to do well in college classes. IB and AP classes also contribute to a students GPA. Since the classes are advanced, they add more to the student’s point value than a .2 class would, making it possible to have a GPA over 4.0.

“You can go to high school and take very rigorous academics or you can go and take some easier courses and still get a high school diploma,” Cook said. “So one of the things that makes the students unique is performance, the GPA, and the test scores and the types of courses. The types of courses, for example, AP and IB courses have a stronger curriculum. And the strength of the curriculum makes the students stand out in the process.”

However, colleges don’t just go off of scores and GPA. Some colleges have applications that require essays and optional essays to test students. Colleges also look for people with previous success and achievement. The best indicator that a person will be successful is past achievement and involvement.

Extracurricular activities also hold weight in some colleges. These activities might allow colleges to get a better sense of who the person is, rather than just looking at numbers.

“One important thing to understand with extracurricular activities it is, from a college standpoint, it is much more important to us that you are really involved in a couple of organizations than to just put twenty different things on your volunteer sheet just to check the box,”¬†Senior Associate Director of Admissions at SVSU Ted Lind said. “We can usually tell when someone is just adding things to their resume just for the sake of adding them. Versus having real involvement in a student group.”

With some colleges only accepting very few students, it is suggested to stand apart by getting high grades, a high SAT score, and be involved in extracurricular activities to have a higher chance of acceptance.

The following graphic provides advice for preparing for the SAT.

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Robert Heyart & Faye Kollig


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