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What do I need to get on the SAT to get a scholarship?

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Several colleges announced that their admission process will shift to a test-optional process, but admission counselors recommend taking the SAT to get scholarships. The SAT and the ACT have been part of the college application process for many years. Standardized tests are intended to gauge the students’ college-readiness by measuring their ability to earn at least a C average in first-year college courses. While college admission processes vary, it is a good idea to take the SAT in the 11th or 12th grades because SAT scores are considered for different purposes.

Related resource: 10 Great Value Colleges for an Associate’s in Computer Engineering/Computer Information Science

SAT Factor in College Placement

Until recently, nearly all of the four-year colleges required SAT scores along with high school transcripts, letters of reference, description of courses and an essay as part of the college application package. Transcripts reflect student performance in high school while reference letters confirm the individual strength of college applicants. SAT scores are used to gauge students’ college readiness and the likelihood of success in a more stringent environment. Taking the SAT is an efficient strategy to announce students’ intention to pursue a college degree, and registering to take the test will put your name in a database that colleges access to find prospective applicants for admission. Students choose whether or not to participate in this program when they register for an account, and the election is easily updated online.

Colleges use the SAT scores as a prescreening tool to determine which students are most likely to succeed in their course programs. SAT scores are also used as one of the criteria in awarding scholarships. Granting scholarships based on SAT performance may be automatic, which means the award is earned when the student’s SAT score falls within a pre-established threshold. According to the College Board, other SAT-referenced scholarships may require submission of an essay and personal interviews aside from the SAT scores. Private organizations that sponsor scholarships for college students may also use SAT scores in their screening process.

SAT Scores for Scholarship Awards

The SAT was recently revised to include a Math section and a section called Evidence-based Reading and Writing, which is a combination of the scores earned from the Reading test and the Writing and Language test. SAT scores range from 400 to a perfect score of 1600. There are scholarships and grants available to incoming college freshmen based on SAT scores at virtually every level. Some of the scholarships are part of the college’s financial aid program and are partially need-based.

Quick Notes on National Merit Scholarships

The National Merit Organization manages the National Merit competition, which is a nationwide program that aims to recognize students based solely on their performance in the PSAT or Preliminary SAT taken in the 10th grade and the SAT taken in grade 11 or 12. The competition goes through three phases with PSAT performance used as the initial screening tool. Out of a starting pool of 1.6 million entrants, 50,000, or the top 1 percent scorers, will move on to the next phase. Thirty-four thousand entrants will receive Commended Student letters and will not advance to the next phase although they may still qualify for corporate scholarships.

Sixteen thousand National Merit Semifinalists will be screened further by evaluating their latest SAT scores and academic accomplishments. Fifteen thousand will become National Merit Finalists and 7,500 will be the National Merit awardees for the year receiving the $2500 National Merit Scholarship, corporate scholarships or college-based scholarships. It is also important to note that there are colleges that offer different types of scholarships, ranging from reduced tuition to a full ride, to National Merit Semifinalists. The National Merit competition is highly competitive, and it is completely need-blind, increasing the competition even more.

List of Scholarships

Aside from the National Merit competition, students who are in the top-scoring group are offered the best options by other academic, civic and nonprofit organizations. These scholarships may include a full ride covering tuition and other fees, book allowance, living allowance, meal plan, and dormitory fees. Colleges pursue students who show exemplary performance in the SAT or ACT, offering everything from all-expense paid campus tours, a personal mentor to assist with the college admission paperwork and free college gear to start developing the college spirit. Some of these scholarships may target a certain demographic, so scholarship qualifiers may include residency,race, affiliation with certain groups or specific programs of study.

SAT Scores Between 1401 and 1600

Here are some scholarships available to students with SAT scores 1401 and 1600 with descriptions of their primary qualifiers:

•Christa McAuliffe Teacher Incentive Program

This is a scholarship for Delaware residents who intend to pursue a teacher certification program that would lead to a career in the field of education. The award may apply for a course of studies outside Delaware, but priority is given to students who intend to join the Delaware Department of Education. The amount of the award varies.

•Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program

This is a $7,000 scholarship granted to students who wish to complete the academic requirements needed to join the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, the Texas State Guard, the U.S Coast Guard, or the U.S. Merchant Marine, or any branch of the armed services of the United States.

SAT scores between 1201 to 1400

Many of these scholarships are linked to specific colleges with additional specifications for the course of study.

•Hungry To Lead Scholarship

This is a $5,500 scholarship that may be applied to any accredited college but only for degrees that will lead to a career in food service, hospitality or related major.

•ExxonMobil/LNESC Scholarship

This scholarship is slated for high achieving Hispanic students who plan on pursuing an engineering degree at any accredited college nationwide.

SAT Scores Between 1001 to 1200

These scholarships are typically provided by colleges and the award can only be used for programs of study in the granting college.

•Augustana College Distinguished Scholar Competition

This scholarship may award as much as $60,000 to students who will pursue a degree at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

•Hope College Alumni Honors Scholarships

This $18,000 scholarship is available to students entering Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

College costs have become very expensive and unreachable for many families. College-bound students should leverage their high performance in the SAT to get scholarships targeted to high-achieving and high-performing students who may have some financial need. It is advisable to start the scholarship search early as there are thousands made available to students every year. Starting the scholarship search early ensures compliance with deadlines and all the critical requirements.