The First Rule of Test Scores

Only four groups of people who need to know your SAT or ACT scores: your parents, your guidance counselors, your test prep provider, and the colleges to which you apply.

Sharing your SAT and ACT scores with your classmates is a "no-no" according to NoodlePro, Loren Dunn. In today's post, Loren shares his thoughts on why test scores should be kept relatively private, shared only between a student and their parents, guidance counselor, potential colleges, and tutor.

To adapt a quote from Fight Club, "The first rule of test prep is don't talk about test prep," or rather, test scores.

There are only four groups of people who need to know your SAT or ACT scores: your parents, your guidance counselors, whoever is helping you prepare for your test, and the colleges to which you apply. Beyond that, your scores are no one else's business, and, for that matter, no one else's scores are your business either.

When we have conversations with classmates about our SAT or ACT scores, one of two things is likely to happen: either we walk away feeling badly about our scores, or our classmates walk away feeling badly about theirs.What's more, the reality is that there's nothing to be gained from that conversation. Anything a classmate tells you is a rumor he or she heard and is now passing along to you. College admissions is a complex process, and even expert admissions counselors can't say with certainty what the outcome of any given application will be. The fact that some one's older sister got into such-and-such school with this-or-that score (or worse yet, didn't get in with this-or-that score!) doesn't really tell you anything. Scores are only one part of an application, and are not likely to be "the reason" someone was or was not accepted at any given college.

When we talk to each other about scores, we're trying to fill in an enormous, anxiety-causing blank. We know our scores are going to count for something, but we don't know what. Instead of talking to classmates about scores, check out a sampling of the SAT or ACT score ranges on Noodle's college profiles. You can also talk to someone in your guidance office or a private college guidance counselor. If you're working on test prep with an experienced teacher or tutor, that person should be able to give you some context in which to understand what your scores mean.

I actually require that my test prep students don't talk with classmates about scores (if only they all listened!). I think you should consider your scores as private as you would the results of a medical test. If a classmate, or even a friend, pushes you to share your scores even after you've tried to change the subject, politely excuse yourself to the bathroom and leave the conversation (or plan an exit line you feel more comfortable with if you don't like that one). I've seen too many students rattled because of rumors they've heard about what scores they need or should be getting. The fact is: your classmates have no idea what they're talking about. Having an older sibling or a friend who's a senior does not qualify someone to be a college admissions counselor.

There's absolutely no upside to talking to classmates about scores. If you treat your test scores and those of your classmates as the highly personal information that it is, you'll avoid the chance that you'll needlessly upset someone else or yourself. Getting your information from a reliable source is the best way to understand what your scores mean!

Check out the average SAT and ACT score ranges of the colleges you're interested in and make sure to avoid this common but risky SAT advice!

Previously: Think! Think! Think!

Next: 10 Best Value Public Colleges of 2012

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