What's more important in the college admission decision: test scores or GPA?
Charlotte M. Klaar, Ph.D.
Klaar College Consulting LLC
First things first: the GPA is more important than standardized test scores. Colleges recognize what you do every day for four years is a more accurate measure of your intellectual curiosity and your academic focus than is a test that you take on one Saturday morning. Most colleges will also recalculate the GPA using only the core courses (English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language) in their calculations. They want to see that you have taken each of these classes for four years and have had a significant trend upward in your grades. Then they look at whether you have taken advantage of the honors and AP courses your school offered. If you did, they add their own weight to the unweighted GPA. In case you were wondering, if you can’t get A’s and B’s in honors and AP courses, they really don’t want you to take them.
GPA is an important measure of success in the classroom but it does not paint the entire picture of an applicant. There is no doubt that the higher one’s GPA is, the better it is for college admission. However, it is also important to note that a less-than-perfect GPA does not mean one will be necessarily denied. Schools are looking for students who will make a positive impact on their campus both inside the classroom and outside of it. Schools want to see students who have challenged themselves in the classroom by taking a college prep curriculum and students who made impacts on their communities through service opportunities, athletics, or leadership positions. Different schools have different academic standards and it is important for one to look at the minimum GPA and test scores a specific school requires. GPA is a very useful piece of information used to measure success in the classroom but it is not the only piece of information admission officers will look at while considering a student for admission.
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