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Bad SAT Scores but Good Grades: What Happens With Average Score

SAT scores vs grades

Are you struggling to understand how to improve your SAT scores? What about graduating from high school on time. If you hope to do both of these, you will love our guide on improving your bad SAT scores and good grades without sacrificing your social life.

Is it possible to have bad SAT Scores but Good Grades?

Yes. It is possible to get good grades and bad SAT scores. The two are not related in any way but measure different things. 

bad sat scores but good grades

Many factors contribute to a good SAT score like: test-taking skills, writing ability, time management, stress levels, etc.

If you are not good at any of these things but have good grades, your SAT scores will reflect that.

Likewise, if you are good at those things but have bad grades, your SAT scores would be excellent.

The SAT is given when you are junior or senior in high school. This is a test that will test your knowledge of math, reading, and writing, and can predict how well you will do in college. 

Notably, your high school grades do have some bearing on what colleges you get into. Colleges will look at your grades to see if they think you can handle their course load.

If they think you can’t, they might deny your application or take other measures such as making scholarships conditional on maintaining specific grades during the first year of attendance.

Tips on how you can write SAT essay that you’ll score excellently.

What to Do When you Have Low SAT Scores but a High GPA? 

Here are some smart strategies for tackling this challenge:

1. Highlight other Strengths

If your SAT scores do not match up to your GPA or the rest of your academic record, you will want to emphasize other assets in your application. Consider discussing any outstanding achievements, awards, or honors that got outside of class (such as earning a leadership position in an extracurricular activity). 

You might also want to stress any special talents or interests that set you apart. Maybe you are an accomplished dancer or singer, a gifted artist, or an avid community volunteer. These qualities can help admissions officers see you as more than just numbers on a page.

2. Take AP Courses in High School

Taking AP courses shows admissions officers that you are interested in challenging yourself academically and going above and beyond what is required. Furthermore, it also shows that you can take college-level classes and handle the rigor of college-level work.

Be sure to submit your AP scores when applying for admission. Even if your test scores are not excellent, a strong GPA may help offset them.

3. Apply to Schools that Don’t Require the SAT

Some colleges, like the University of Chicago, Bowdoin College, George Washington University, and Rice University, are test-optional. A few dozen other schools are test-flexible and will allow you to submit a combination of tests in lieu of the SAT or ACT.

4. Apply to Schools with Holistic Admissions Policies

Some colleges look beyond just your SAT scores when evaluating your application. They consider extracurricular activities, recommendations, and special talents or circumstances, which means they may overlook low SAT scores. Examples include Cornell, Dartmouth, and Boston College.

5. Apply Early Decision (ED)

Applying ED at an institution where you are at the edge with your test scores could give you the advantage over students applying regular decisions. ED applicants tend to have higher overall academic profiles than regular decision applicants.

Causes of Bad SAT Scores in College

Lack of Prep

Causes of Bad SAT Scores

It is possible that your poor test score was simply due to a lack of preparation.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to taking tests.

If you are not familiar with taking tests like the SAT before, it will take some time to get used to it.

The more practice you have before taking the actual test, the less likely you will be caught off guard during the real thing.

Inadequate Practice Tests

Such implies that one did not take enough practice tests. Students who take ten or more practice tests before taking the real thing do much better than students who don’t.

The best way to prepare for an SAT is to read every word of every book in your library, every essay in your college library, every essay you can find online, and then write at least three full-length essays per day for three weeks before taking the SAT itself.

Poor Planning

A third factor that causes poor SAT scores in college lack of a good study plan and failure to stick with it. Many people will take an exam but not have any method for studying for it, and then give up because they did not get good results from their study session. 

Steps to Take to Avoid Low Scores in College

If you already have a low GPA, you can still do some things to improve it as indicated below: 

Avoiding Low Scores

1. Isolate Areas of Weakness

One of the best ways to improve your SAT scores is to take a diagnostic test before taking the actual test. Such allows you to see where you need to focus your efforts to improve your score.

Most SAT prep books contain practice tests that will enable you to isolate areas where you need more work.

For example, if your math scores are much lower than your scores in reading or writing, then this tells you that you need to focus on improving your math skills and knowledge base.

2. Study and Do your Homework

Do not expect to pick up the material the night before the test. Motivate yourself and enhance your study skills. Studying for a few minutes every day will help your score much more than cramming for hours on end.

3. Turn in all your Assignments

If you turn in some of your assignments and not others, your teachers will deduct points from your grade accordingly. Even turning in late work is better than not turning in any work at all.

4. Do Extra Credit Work Whenever Possible

Most teachers offer extra credit projects that do not count toward your class grade but add to your overall GPA. You can find out about these projects by asking your teacher directly or by looking at the syllabus for each class.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are there geniuses with low sat scores?

There are geniuses with low SAT scores. One example is Sean Carroll, who is a physicist at Caltech. He scored 1140 (out of 1600) on the SAT and got into both the University of Chicago and Harvard.

While he was at college, he worked with David Schramm and Steven Weinberg, both Nobel laureates in physics.

Can you have good grades but bad test scores?

You can have good grades but bad test scores or vice versa. It depends on what classes you are taking and how you are tested. If you are taking a class that is graded chiefly on projects, your grades will probably be high, but if the teacher tests you over the material, your test scores might be lower.

What is a good sat score?

Anything over 1200 is a good SAT score. The SAT score range is 400-1600 for your total score and 200-800 for each of your two section scores. So the lowest possible score you can get on the SAT is 400, and the highest possible score you can get on the SAT is 1600.

Best colleges for high GPA low sat

  • Amherst College
  • Hamilton College
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Davidson College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Haverford College
  • Stanford University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Brown University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Colby College