Don’t give test scores more importance than they deserve

I got an email last week from a father who, in summarizing his son’s accomplishments, mentioned:

“He got a 2210 on the SAT, but will retake it again this fall…”

This is an unfortunately common example of what the admissions craze has done to students and parents.  As I wrote the father, I can only imagine one (unlikely) scenario where that kid should retake the SAT—if he scored 800 in Critical Reading, 800 in Writing, 610 in Math, and dreams of studying engineering or attending Caltech or MIT.  Barring that, this student has more than sufficiently proven he’s good at standardized tests.  It’s now time for him to move on to something else.  (Here’s a past post explaining more about why going from great to perfect is unnecessary with test scores.)

Students (and parents) often feel like standardized tests are one part of the admissions process they can control.  While you don’t get to decide how an admissions officer perceives your activities or your essay, an extra 10 or 20 or 50 points on the SAT feels a little more concrete.  Still, it’s important to keep test scores in perspective.  If you’re a good tester, if your scores are at or above the published averages of your chosen colleges, or if you’re feeling beaten down by multiple testing tries in hopes of raising your score, consider moving on to something else. 

Test scores are never the most important part of the admissions process.  You’re better off not treating them as if they were.