Q&A: Will a High SAT Score Counter a Low GPA?

Q: Will a high SAT score counter a low GPA for college applications I submit?

A: Your GPA is just one factor among a dozen or so colleges use to evaluate applicants. In many ways, I view course rigor and other academic indicators as important, if not more important, than having an incredibly high GPA (3.75+). Still, GPA does matter in the long run.

For the school I read applications for, I would say a low GPA is really anything under a 3.4 (though the average for incoming students is closer to 3.75). So if you had, say a 3.1 GPA, I would want to see a pretty good SAT score (1400+) and high course rigor (multiple AP, IB, Honors, dual credit classes) to counter the lower GPA. Couple that with a few extracurricular leadership positions, 100+ hours of impactful service in the community, and the ability to communicate well in your personal statement, and you can more than make up for a low GPA.


So, with good course rigor and high test scores, your chances would improve of getting into selective colleges (broad definition), but probably not highly selective colleges, where poor test scores can be a deal breaker.