Why Colleges Still Require The SAT®

June 29, 2017, 12:54 PM

Ten years ago, there was a big push to make the SAT® (and ACT®) optional in college admissions. While the “test-optional” movement received lots of good press, SAT® score averages at colleges and universities continued to climb. Since then, ironically, the SAT® has become an even more important factor in college admissions than ever before. So what happened? Why are colleges so reluctant to let go of the SAT®?

Reason #1: Grade Inflation Makes the SAT® More Valuable Than Ever. Ten years ago, I started noticing a trend. Teenagers who previously would have been B-average students were receiving higher grades for a similar quality of work. It was not uncommon to meet students that had GPAs in the 4.5-range (from overloading on AP classes), yet had not mastered the corresponding reading, math and writing skills (which showed up on low SAT® test scores).

Apparently, I was not the only one who noticed this trend. Colleges became more skeptical of the new flood of high GPAs and, as a result, began to lean more heavily on SAT® scores to counteract the prevalence of grade inflation at many high schools.

Reason #2: Colleges Use SAT® Score Averages to Boost Rankings

Every year US News releases its official college rankings list, its most popular college-related news story. Who hasn’t taken a look? While the rankings take into account several variables, there is a direct correlation between higher SAT® score averages and higher rankings. Simply put, the popularity of the US News college rankings incentivizes colleges to admit students with higher SAT® scores. All other factors being equal (GPA, course load, college essay, etc), colleges will always take the candidate with higher SAT® scores.

**Even with “special” admits, like athletes or legacies, if there are two candidates with similar profiles, colleges will always offer admissions to the student with the best scores.

Reason #3: Test Preparation Has Become Much More Affordable

Proponents of “test-optional” admissions often rely on the faulty argument that high-cost test preparation gives an unfair advantage to those who can afford the instruction. The opposite is actually true. Over the last decade, especially with the introduction of new online platforms like Kranse, most families can afford “expert” test preparation at a fraction of the cost ten years ago.

Trust us. The SAT® is here to stay. Prep with purpose.

Get 30% off Kranse Institute's digital SAT® PSAT/NMSQT® prep course with discount code COACH30 when enrolling online at

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