How Important Are SAT/ACT Exams?

Dear Dr. Linda,

My wife is having our son take the SAT and the ACT over and over again. Each time it costs money and even more money for the tutor. I’m an attorney and never took this many exams in my life. Our son is miserable, my wife is determined and I’m angry. I guess you have a clear picture of our home environment at this time. It’s not pretty. Any advice?


Sign Up for E-News

Dear Michael,

College acceptance is not solely dependent on college entrance exams. College admissions counselors look at the student’s entire profile. They begin with the student’s GPA. That is one of the most important factors. They also look at extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations, the interview and the college essay. The SAT/ACT scores are important, too, but colleges look at the whole package.

Different colleges’ admissions counselors have different criteria too. They may be looking for students from a rural area or from an urban area. They may be looking for students to fill the music department or philosophy department. They may accept a student with a lower GPA or SAT score simply because that student is an outstanding athlete.

Recently, a college admissions counselor told me that last year there were two students that had almost identical qualifications, but one’s essay was outstanding. Because of that student’s experience, even though her SAT score was slightly lower than the other student’s, they chose her.

I personally know of many students with lower GPAs or lower SAT/ACT scores who were accepted to a particular college because they had special accomplishments. That’s true for many students applying for the arts. Many colleges ask to see a student’s portfolio before even looking at grades or tests.

Admissions counselors also look for students who show community involvement. For example, if two students have similar GPAs and SAT/ACT scores, the student who is an Eagle Scout or has volunteered at the hospital for years will have a greater chance of getting into some schools than a student who joined a few clubs so they can write them down on their college application.

The point is, taking more SAT/ACT exams alone with the goal of raising his scores is no guarantee your son will be accepted. Colleges are not in the business of accepting robots. They accept students who they believe will succeed based on their academic and personal achievements. The good news is that if a student has a goal and is not accepted into their dream college, they can always start at a different school and transfer in.

Besides, when they apply for their first job, they will never be asked where they began. They’ll be asked where they finished.

Dr. Linda

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Here's What You Missed Last Week

Last week, the Daily News ran a headline, “When is our father coming home?” This dealt with a person here illegally, married to an American woman with a family, who was arrested at an Army base while delivering pizza. You are supposed to think that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under Trump, is tearing families apart. As usual, it was a crock of cow pies. It was ...

Watergate Analogies Apply to Obama, Not Trump

My liberal counterpart in this publication is about my age. Maybe I am the baby of the group, but we all have had the same seminal experiences of our youth: Vietnam, the civil rights movement and Watergate. These are what shaped our political perspectives.

Looking back, maybe, just maybe those who thought Nixon was really deserving of his fate cannot be faulted for thinking so. It was once ...

Reagan on Trump

The party of “Honest Abe” has now become the party of Dishonest Don, and what follows are some disturbing displays of a Republican Party that has become devoid of conscience:

• More than 4,600 American citizens dead in Puerto Rico—a postscript to the government’s abysmal response to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Maria; 
• The underhanded ...

The Rich Get Richer, and We’re Paying For It

According to a Harvard University study published late last year, most Americans believe that the richest 20 percent of Americans own just half of the nation’s wealth. Wrong! The top 20 percent own 93 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent own 40 percent of that wealth. Additionally, the top 10 percent of earners in 2017 took home more than half the nation’s ...

Competing—Against Yourself

This is the time of year when students are recognized at public ceremonies for notable achievements in their studies, their sports and in their extracurricular pursuits.

Where we live, there are awards in various sports that are named for our son, who also is memorialized by town ballfield Harrison Apar Field of Dreams and a charitable foundation of the same name.

Due to a rare dwarfism, ...

Honoring Our Veterans’ Freedom of Speech

Memorial Day is over, but writing about America’s veterans doesn’t have an expiration date.

My dad, George, was as proud a veteran as you’d meet. He served in the Army in World War II and loved our country no less than the next veteran. I am proud of him, as is my brother, Robert, who served in the Air Force.

Growing up, the one vacation we took each year was spent with ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Mouthing Off

When I went for oral surgery last spring, the doctor told me he could only do one half of my mouth that day or I wouldn’t be able to eat for two weeks. Considering it was almost bathing suit season, I didn’t think that was necessarily a bad thing. But he convinced me otherwise, and told me if I was really gung ho about getting it all done, I could come back in a month or so to have ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, June 27, 9:00 AM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

PCDOH Free HIV Testing Day

Health & Wellness