How to Survive a Bad SAT Score

Last Updated Oct 19, 2009 1:08 PM EDT

It's SAT season again.

This is the time of year when high school seniors are making a final stab at earning SAT scores that are worth displaying on the refrigerator door.

The testing frenzy is the reason why The Official SAT Study Guide has soared in the rankings to become's most popular college book. The study guide, which weighs in at 3.4 pounds, is selling better than almost all other books that weren't written by Dan Brown.

All that test prep, however, can only go so far. The reality is that no matter how much teenagers study, many of them won't be celebrating when their SAT or ACT scores arrive.

But here's the good news: bombing on the SAT or ACT doesn't have to be a catastrophe. More than 815 colleges and universities are now test optional which means that they are more than happy to let students keep their crummy test scores a secret. At these schools, students can apply without feeling any pressure to submit standardized test scores.

A growing number of schools are dropping the SAT/ACT requirement because studies have overwhelmingly shown that the best predictor of whether students will succeed in college is their high school grade point average.

So where do you find test-optional schools? Just visit the website of Fair Test: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing for the complete list.

If you're thinking that no self-respecting elite school would join the test-optional movement, you're wrong. Most of the highly selective schools that have embraced test-optional admissions policies so far are liberal arts colleges, such as Middlebury, Bowdoin, Smith, Hamilton, Bates and Mount Holyoke. In fact, about a third of the nation's top 100 liberal arts colleges are test-optional.

Now don't you feel better?

Further Reading:

4 Smart Ways to Boost Your Teen's SAT Score (for Less)
Why US News' College Rankings Are a Joke
The Best and Worst College Degrees by Salary
Test prep image by Newton Free Library. CC 2.0.