May 19, 2020
Question: As an international student applying next January I understand the need for me to take the SAT/ACT to act as a benchmark against other applicants. However I can't help but feel worried when I hear horror stories of universities requiring international students to score higher on these exams in the name of competitiveness. As an A-level student in the UK I am already taking rigorous courses and achieving good results, but I can’t help but feel that my possible SAT scores will hold me back in my application when I have excelled in my home country. Is there any truth to the statement that international students are expected to have excelled in the SAT/ACT, or is this opinion just held at highly prestigious universities such as Yale and Harvard where selectivity can be afforded? Would this be the same case for other colleges such as Rutgers and NYU?
Your question leaves out a key piece of information: Are you applying for financial aid? If not, then you will be held to the same standards as are U.S. applicants. In fact, if your A-Level results are strong, admission officials may even cut you a bit of slack on your SAT or ACT scores because, as an international student, you’ll be helping to diversify their campus.
BUT … international students requiring financial aid are usually held to a far higher standard than their domestic peers. This means that your grades and test scores will probably have to be better than those of the typically admitted U.S. applicant in order for you to get good news at decision time. So, if you need aid, be sure to consider some institutions where the average freshman is not as strong as you are in all areas (including SAT/ACT scores). And also remember that, for internationals seeking aid, no U.S. college is truly “Safe.”