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May 6, 2011 / Guest blogger

Standardized test scores and scholarships: What you need to know

Everyone knows that doing well on the SAT or ACT is an important part of getting into your top choice college. What’s less known, though, is that doing really well on standardized tests can also get you a merit-based scholarship. In addition to this, scoring well on the SAT or ACT might help you secure an outside scholarship to pay for tuition, books, room/board and health insurance. And if you’re from a state with state-wide standardized testing, like California, Massachusetts or New York, doing well on those state exams might help you qualify for free tuition at a public, in-state university.

Many colleges and universities have minimum requirements for merit scholarships. These minimum requirements are based on a student’s high school grade point average (GPA) and their scores on either the SAT or ACT.  It’s important to know that the minimum GPA and SAT/ACT scores to secure a merit scholarship will be higher than the average GPA and standardized test scores for admittance to any college or university. In other words, if a college’s incoming class has an average GPA of 3.1 and SAT score of 1850, students might be required to have a 3.3 GPA and a SAT score of 2000 to qualify for a merit scholarship. Each college and university establishes its own requirements for merit scholarships, and you should visit financial aid department websites to see if merit scholarship requirements are posted.

In addition to earning merit scholarships from a perspective college, standardized test scores can also help you secure private scholarships from outside sources. As the price of obtaining a quality education has increased, so has the competition for scholarships through local Rotary Clubs, educational foundations, national heritage/ancestry organizations, and other distributors of college scholarships. Because of increased competition, it’s imperative that a student scores well on the SAT and/or ACT. It’s important to know that the recent financial downturn has made it difficult for many people to contribute funds to scholarship organizations. For this reason, organizations have even less money to give students looking for a scholarship, making the competition for scholarship funds more competitive than ever. As a result, doing well on standardized tests has never been as important for securing an outside scholarship as it is now.

In 2007-08, the average amount students owed upon completing college was around $23,000. Although studying for standardized tests isn’t the most fun you’ll have as a high school student, it’ll definitely pay financial dividends when you have less student loan debt when you finish college.  If you don’t owe anything upon finishing your bachelor’s degree, you’ll save yourself from the stress of being in debt, be in better shape to pay for graduate school, and/or be able to put down that initial payment on the car you’ve always wanted!

About Grockit: Grockit is a fun and engaging learning community that encourages students to learn from group study, game play, expert tutorials and solo study. Students that prepare with Grockit have proven to achieve higher scores on college admissions tests.

About the Author: Chris Babits is an AP US History, SAT and GRE instructor for Grockit. Chris holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in History from Clark University, a small research university in Massachusetts.


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