College Admissions: GPA and GradesHi! While you’re here, join my SAT email subscription to download exclusive subscriber-only bonuses and other tips from a perfect-score SAT tutor!

This website is all about SAT prep tips and how to get a perfect score on the SAT, but it’s also important to remember the end game plan – getting into the colleges and scholarships of your choice.

SAT scores are only about 20-30% of your college application. In fact, many schools will look at your grades, classes, activities, and high school GPA before checking out your SAT scores.

Think about it, and it will make perfect sense – as a high school student, you spend 95% of your life in the classroom. What should colleges focus on – your one SAT test score, or the results of hundreds and thousands of hours spent listening to a teacher, doing homework, taking quizzes, doing projects, etc?

Truly, the SAT exam is just a blip on the radar when compared to the enormous amount of work and time that go into the rest of your high school education.

Also, success in college is mainly about success in classes. You’re not sitting around taking a bunch of SAT-like tests in college.

So, keep the SAT in perspective, and keep reading to learn some important facts about getting into the best colleges.

Taking hard classes in high school is better than taking easy classes:

This rule is generally true even if you expect to get a lower grade in the harder class.

Now, don’t take that to mean that you can fail AP Chemistry and shrug your shoulders, expecting the admissions officers to say “Oh well, she tried!”

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No, you’re still responsible for getting the best grade possible.

What I mean is, given the choice between a B in AP Chemistry and an A in regular Chemistry, I’d take the B in AP Chem.

College courses are very similar in nature to the hardest high school classes. Schools would rather see evidence that you can “make it” in a very difficult course, rather than know that you can ace an easy course… because hopefully, you won’t be taking any “easy courses” when you get accepted to their elite college.

Admissions officers can tell when you’re taking a blow-off course and when you’re taking an advanced experts-only course. They definitely notice the hard courses, and they are definitely impressed if you can make it through.

Extra Hard Classes for College AdmissionsTaking extra classes in high school is also a good idea for college application resumes:

Seeing a theme yet?

Going above and beyond the admissions requirements and your high school curriculum baseline expectations is a solid way to improve your college application.

This isn’t quite the same as the previous rule… instead of taking the hardest courses, you can also take enrichment courses like optional Art, Music, Science, and Social Studies electives.

You can also take courses on a nearby college or community college campus, to show that you’re ready for a college workload.

The great colleges are very competitive. They don’t want to accept students who just “do the minimum.”

Your competition is taking extra classes in place of free periods and blow-off activities.

Not to be rude here, but if you don’t step it up, that competition is going to steal your spot at the selective universities.

Improve your high school grades and GPA over time:

Now, a bit of good news for both serious and lazy students: one of the universal things that colleges love to see is that your grades have improved over time throughout high school.

What this telegraphs is an increasing focus, maturity, and dedication to your education as you’ve gotten older.

Maybe you didn’t take your education all that seriously when you first got to high school – I mean, you were only like 14 or 15 years old! You’ve definitely grown up since then, right?!

Maybe you used to goof off in all your classes, but have since matured and learned to stay quiet and attentive to your teacher.

Even if your grades have never been stellar, it’s considered a very good sign if they’re slowly trending upwards.

On the flip side, grades that drop as you get older are considered a red flag…

Don’t get senioritis or start to slack off once you’re doing well in school:

This is the flip side of the previous college admissions tip. One of the worst things you can do is get “too comfortable” when your grades are high and your college and scholarship acceptances have started coming in.

I have personally witnessed a student breaking down in tears as they read the letter that revoked their acceptance to that student’s first-choice Ivy League school. Senioritis and College Admissions This student was near the top of the class for years, but they got lazy and crashed-and-burned in the last semester of high school.

It was incredibly sad, watching my friend’s tears roll down her face, knowing that all her hard work was for nothing.

Don’t throw everything away – plan on finishing strong through the end of Senior year of high school.

Then you’ll have a nice, long summer break to relax before you go off to college!

Don’t get in trouble with school or with the law:

Now this one should be really obvious, but I’ll use it to wrap things up: Don’t get caught for anything illegal or against school rules! This will sink an college application faster than anything else on the planet.

Colleges want to accept reliable, adult, mature, respectful students. You’ve made it this far – if you have to do something stupid, make sure that you don’t get caught for it.

Many factors other than the SAT affect your college applications:

In summary, the SAT is just one part of a complete college or scholarship application.

There are many ways to both strengthen and ruin your chances of being admitted to the best colleges in the world.

Most importantly, don’t screw things up by slacking off or breaking the rules when you think all the hard work is over.

My last words on this topic? Finishing strong in high school sets the bar to be a winner for the rest of your life!  

Enroll in my Winning College Scholarships video course to save thousands of dollars on higher education!

Further Reading:
Why Activities Can Make or Break Your College Application
How to Get Into College: The Complete Guide
How to Get a Perfect Score on the SAT
GPA, Hard Classes, Senioritis, and College Admissions

Additional Resources:
Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers (Video Course)

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