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Importance of SAT and GRE Tests for Scholarships and Financial Aid

Your SAT or GRE test scores are the most crucial factors of your college application. SAT or GRE test scores are required to determine if a college can admit the student for undergraduate or graduate degree programs in USA respectively.

Why SAT and GRE are important?

SAT and GRE are entrance exams used by most colleges and universities in United States to make admissions decisions. These scores work as common criteria to help admission officers to filter applications. However, it is not the only factor in the admissions decision. Universities also consider your high school GPA, academic transcript, letters of recommendation, interviews and personal essays.

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For international students these scores are very important because admission officers may not have a good idea about education process in your home country or may not trust recommendation letters. For example, Indian and Chinese students may have very different education systems in their countries. Therefore SAT and GRE scores act as key indicator of academic success for international students.

What is Good SAT or GRE Score?

Many students could not determine if their test score could help them get admission and financial aid.

It all depends on the university you are applying for admission. Popular universities most likely to have higher test score requirement for admission.

The Higher, The Better

The national average for the current SAT is 1500 and for GRE the average score falls somewhere around 150-152.

If you are close to these averages you will likely be accepted into a considerable number of colleges and universities (as long as you have decent grades), but may not be considered at more selective schools. Above average SAT/GRE scores will improve your chances of getting into a more selective school.

Scores below an 1100 on the SAT and below 120 on the GRE are considered low for any college admission.

Quick Facts

GRE Quick Facts RE Quick Facts
Frequency Most weekdays and weekends year-round Frequency Most weekdays and weekends year-round
Duration 3 hours, 45 minutes Duration 3 hours, 45 minutes
Sections Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing Sections Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing
Cost $195 Cost $195
Max. Score 170 Max. Score 170
Avg. Score 150.8 Avg. Score 150.8


Better Score = Big Money

Higher scores are actually directly proportional to the amount of financial aid offered by the universities. Good SAT or GRE scores, with well written application and good academic record, can actually predict if the student will receive merit scholarship.

*Many universities offer guaranteed scholarships for minimum threshold test scores.

Here is the sample merit scholarships received based on the SAT Scores.

School Name SAT Scores* GPA Admit Rate Merit Award**
Dickinson College 1280 NR 48% $17,248
Emory University 1365 3.69 26% $21,345
Hobart and William Smith Colleges 1230 3.41 50% $25,000
Lafayette College 1275 3.47 34% $20,000
Saint Louis University 1210 3.83 60% $15,643
St. John’s University 1100 3.4 63% $12,918
Texas Christian University 1180 NR 49% $15,535
University of Miami 1320 4.3 38% $17,841
Wofford College 1165 3.54 77% $18,874


*Critical Reading + Math
**Average merit award for qualifying individuals.

Important Take Away

If you are looking for scholarships and financial aid in USA then you must have high SAT or GRE scores with good grades, recommendation letters and essays. With low test score you may have chance to get financial aid in less popular college or university.

But how would you know if your score is good enough to get into your dream school? Don’t worry about it. There are lots of tools and strategies to figure that out.

Important thing is to get high scores and increase your chances of getting financial aid.

So why take chance? If it is my life on the line then I would definitely take time to prepare for these tests and achieve best score.

If would be happy to help you if any question. Please ask your questions in the comment section below.

Wishing you success!


Here is Q&A from The Princeton Review to understand more about financial aid.