Does scoring well on a standardized test prove anything?

If you earn a high score on the SAT or ACT, congratulations! You’ve proven that you’re good at taking the SAT or ACT.

That might sound flippant, but it’s true, but not exactly the whole story. Yes, just like any test, the SAT and ACT measure how well you meet the criteria you’re tested on. Naysayers sometimes argue that that these criteria just aren’t useful, and scoring well on the tests doesn’t make a student ready for college. The research into college readiness refutes those assertions: higher education demands a certain level of reading, writing, and quantitative problems solving ability that is better assessed through carefully designed exams than a student’s overall GPA.

Besides quantifying fundamental learning skills, a good admissions test can reveal a lot of things about a student that aren’t on the score report. If you’re good at taking these tests, you’re probably also good at:

  • Paying attention while learning and making sure you understand the material.
  • Dedicating hours of free time to studying and practice.
  • Asking the right questions to find answers.
  • Focusing for long stretches of time.
  • Budgeting your time and making the most of every second.
  • Applying yourself, even when it’s not easy.

Everybody in the world of education knows how tough it can be to really do well on these tests. A good score doesn’t prove that someone is or isn’t a genius–instead, it proves that a student put in the work. When it comes to college and everything that comes after, that’s what really counts.


Should a student bother to study for the SAT or ACT?
Why do some students earn great grades in school but score poorly on standardized tests?
Why aren’t school grades enough for college admissions?


Why college readiness matters
What does ‘smart’ mean in the 21st century?
The value of test preparation
College Readiness Benchmarks

Pin It on Pinterest