What's More Important to Colleges - GPA or Test Scores?

Do colleges prefer students with low GPAs and high SAT/ACT scores or students with high GPAs and low SAT/ACT scores? Which factor is more important in the admissions process?

Whether one factor is more important than the other depends on the quality of your high school, your class rank, and the rigor of the courses you've taken. Your GPA provides context for your SAT scores, so the two are intertwined. If you went to a poor-quality high school, your SAT scores will probably be more important to colleges than your GPA. Colleges are more reluctant to trust the validity of a GPA measurement if it comes from a school that is known for rampant grade inflation or poor instruction overall. At higher quality high schools, GPA may be considered more seriously as an accurate reading on a student's academic potential. If you took rigorous courses and managed to earn a high class rank at a competitive, high-quality high school, colleges may put more stock in your GPA than your test scores. In either case, however, both factors are very important.