Lesson 4: Grades and Standardized Tests

It’s a given that in order to get into a top caliber university, you will need to have great grades. However, it’s important not to confuse this with the idea: “Good grades will get me accepted.” Good grades alone will NOT get you in. When an admissions staff looks at your application, they must judge it holistically. This means they take your extra-curricular activities, personality, test scores, and everything else into account when making their decisions.

This means that good grades become a sort of ticket to ride. We must earn grades that are good enough to allow our other important traits, projects, talents, or interests to stand out.

First, you should check out “Chapter 3: Make Your Grades Irrelevant” in my ebook, College Acceptance Essentials, which you can pick up a copy of from the home page for free.

Khan Academy SAT Prep

Sal Khan has created a huge resource online for students to study just about anything for free, including the SAT. They have vast numbers of practice problems and explanations you can use to get ready for your next test date. Plus it’s a great resource for helping you study for all your other classes as well!

SAT Practice Tests

CollegeBoard has placed eight practice tests online for free. I recommend taking as many tests as you can under actual testing conditions. Get your parents or friends to time each section and make it as close to the real thing as you can.

Register for SAT

Use this link to register for the SAT. Remember that it’s pretty normal (and advisable) to take the test more than one time.

Official ACT Website

Register and practice for the ACT on their official site.

Princeton Review – Cracking the SAT

If you decide to not spend the money on a tutor or class for your SAT/ACT studies, I highly recommend the prep books by Princeton Review. That’s what I used in high school. The tests in these books always seemed a little more difficult than the real thing, which I found to be helpful in my prep.

Success Story

MIT Nuclear Engineer from Upstate New York Cameron French (Part 1) (Part 2)

I met Cameron at MIT where we were both involved in the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. Cameron is from Sharon Springs, New York a “village” of about 600 people. I can’t wait for you to hear his story of coming from such a small town journeying to studying Nuclear Engineering at MIT.

How did you like this lesson? Send me an email at any time (pat@smalltowntopcollege.com) with feedback and questions!