Will Senior Feb. ACT Scores Help Boost Merit Money?

Question: My daughter has been accepted for admission to her preferred colleges for Fall 2012, but we are learning that merit scholarship $$ vary greatly with ACT scores. Should she retake and try to improve? Is there still time? Currently she has a 29 and a 4.04 GPA.

There is an ACT test date this coming Saturday (Feb. 11) but the registration deadline has passed. Depending on where you live, your daughter might be able to take the test as a “standby.” See http://www.actstudent.org/regist/standbytest.html Note that standby testers are not guaranteed a seat and must pay a surcharge of $42 (which is obviously small potatoes if the new scores lead to some merit dough).

If you think that your daughter will be able to take the test in two days, and if she is willing to proceed as a walk-in, you can call the admission offices at her colleges to ask if they will use February scores when allocating merit awards, should these be her highest. There is no disadvantage in inquiring at each college directly.

If any of the schools say yes, then you will have to determine if your daughter is likely to get a walk-in seat on Saturday and if she feels prepared to take the test on short notice. The next test date after this one isn’t until April, and that will definitely be too late.

If your daughter only took the ACT once before, it’s possible that her score will jump several points, even if she has no time to prep for the Saturday test. But if she’s already taken it a couple times and gotten similar results, she’s probably not going to make significant gains without a concerted study effort. However, even a jump from 29 to 30 may feel bigger than it really is.

Regardless of what happens with the merit money, congrats to your daughter on her acceptances.

(posted 2/9/2012)