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How do the best colleges select applicants for admissions?

So, what are the standards for choosing students to gain admission? And how do the best colleges select applicants – what criteria is applied in the admissions process?

There are different college application admissions systems, but elite national institutions generally use the following criteria:

1. Grades and Rigor of Course Work (Honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate)
This criterion is based on the courses students take over time and the grade trend. Good grades and challenging course work are looked upon favorably.

2. Standardized Test Scores (SAT, ACT, SAT Subject, and AP exam)
Some colleges use an average of the highest SAT scores, while others use the highest in a single setting, and still others use the best scores achieved by a student. Keep in mind that schools may note the number of times you took an exam, despite their denials.

3. Extra-Curricular Record (Brag Sheet)
The duration and level of involvement in activities inside and outside of school are significant. Highlight activities such as community service, employment, summer experiences, hobbies, and honors.

4. Teacher and Counselor Letters of Recommendation
Colleges assess the quality of these reports.

5. The Admissions Essays
This includes essays and short responses that students are responsible for. The essay which asks why a student has chosen to apply to a college is of particular importance.

6. Extra-Credit Points
Additional factors in admission, though controversial, include legacy status, ability to pay, minority or first generation college status, and special gifts in athletics, music or another pursuit.

For the most selective elite schools nationally, strong grades and test scores may count for 70 percent of the admission decision. The other indicators may be used to distinguish between those who meet grade and test score standards. Top Test Prep offers tutoring and test preparations with admissions experts who help you gain admission to your top schools.

David Dickson is an expert admissions counselor with Top Test Prep; call Top Test Prep today (800) 501-Prep or visit us online at Private Tutoring and Test Prep Homepage.

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