US College Admissions
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As the admission’s office must sort through many applications, your goal is to stand out in a good way. If you have an average GPA and test scores, then the material on this page should help improve your chances of gaining admission. If you already have top grades and high SAT or ACT scores, you can still improve your application, given other factors such as talent in sports, the quality of your essay, and extracurricular activities. The essay is gaining weight at selective colleges, but please be aware that on average, a typical college application only receives 25 minutes of reading time. Therefore, keep your application brief, and stick to the point when answering questions. Search Google for professional resume-writing tips, like you were applying for a job interview, and write your college application in the same manner. Admissions officers seek to learn how a given applicant thinks, what kind of person they are, and their level of intellectual promise. The admission’s office staff are smart, and they have a lot of experience, so just be yourself, and work on improving your grades and test scores.
Grades are the single most important factor in winning admissions, and maintaining good grades throughout the year is especially important for regular admission applicants. Many colleges are paying greater attention to a student’s grades during their senior year, not limited to academic performance in core courses, but in AP and honors courses as well. In fact, an ideal academic record is one of progressively better grades, in classes of increasing difficulty. College admissions officers look for patterns with both grades and test scores. High grades combined with low test scores suggest a hard-working student, but high test scores with low grades may suggest a smart, but unmotivated applicant. One advisor suggested that it is optimal to try taking the hardest courses that are offered, and that the worst thing you can do is to drop a hard course just because you’re afraid you’ll get a low grade.
ACT Scores and SAT Test Scores
College admission requirements GPAMost colleges accept either the SAT or ACT, and have formulas for converting test scores into admissions criteria. Colleges use standardized tests because there are large differences in curricula, grading, and difficulty among US schools. One benefit of the ACT test is that it allows you to select specific colleges to which to send scores. Students should practice taking the test under simulated testing conditions, and wear a large watch with a sweeping second hand. On average, over half of those retaking the SAT or ACT tests saw improvements in their scores.
Be sure to get a full night’s sleep before the exam. Even more than studying for the test, you’re going to need your full mental capacity, refreshed and recharged by sleep. On the test day itself, arrive early, and pick a seat near the windows, in order to get good sunlight and a bit of oxygen. Take time at the beginning of the test to read the instructions carefully. For multiple-choice tests, look at the number of questions and the number of minutes you have. If there are more minutes than questions, you have a bit over a minute for each. However, if there are more questions than minutes, you better scramble, as you have under a minute to answer each question. You need to be around question #10 at ten minutes in, or you’re falling behind.
Eliminate outlying answers right at the start. Average all numbers, and look for tips in the question that point you to the answer. Trust your instincts, and don’t change your answers on a second pass. If the first answer, A, is a little too obvious, it’s probably a decoy. Test makers like to group the real answers with confusing second choices nearby. Look for patterns in words in the vocabulary section. Read every question fresh, word by word, like a hawk, and pay attention.