What is more important? GPAs or SAT/ACT Test Scores?
Beyond the claims for “holistic reviews of admissions” and SATs requirements being dropped from one major university to another lies the truth about USA Universities admissions. Especially in the case of International students, claims as the aforementioned ones do not necessarily apply.
What most universities do not declare is the fact that applications will be reviewed holistically if the application goes through the first screening. That first screening then is the most important in the process of getting admitted to a top-tier university. And what is the first screening all about? Grades. GPA and SAT/ACT scores. That means they are one of a few factors that are commonly reviewed before an entire application gets read. But which one is most important? Most people believe that both GPA scores and SAT scores are equally important, yet that is not entirely true.
The GPA reflects the four-year academic course of the applicant whereas SAT/ACT scores are neutral indicators of college readiness because they are taken by everyone under the same conditions. Yet standardized test scores demonstrate the performance of a student on a certain day/date that the test is taken. Thus, it is only rational that admissions officers place more value in GPAs as GPAs are more predictive than SAT and ACT scores on the capability of the applicant to attend, thrive, and graduate college on time.
In short, the high school GPAs are based on many factors—including effort over an entire semester in many different types of classes, demonstration of academic skills through multiple formats, and different teacher expectations—which is why GPAs are strong indicators of college readiness and hence of far more importance for Universities’ admissions officers.
The following diagram clarifies how admissions value the profile of an applicant.