Discover Your Options: What Colleges Accept A 980 Sat Score?

What Colleges Accept A 980 Sat Score?

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a crucial standardized test that plays a significant role in the college admissions process. Your SAT score is a key factor that colleges use to evaluate your academic readiness and potential. In this article, we will explore what a 980 SAT score means, its significance, and which colleges may accept applicants with this score.

What Colleges Accept A 980 Sat Score?

While a 980 SAT score is below the national average,  Here are colleges and universities that adopt more flexible admission policies, considering a range of factors beyond just standardized test scores.

1. Community Colleges

Many community colleges have open admission policies, meaning they accept all applicants, regardless of SAT scores. These colleges often provide an affordable way to start your higher education journey and then transfer to a four-year institution.

2. Some Public State Universities

Certain public state universities may accept applicants with SAT scores around 980. However, admission standards can vary significantly from one state to another, so it’s essential to research specific institutions.

3. Private Liberal Arts Colleges

Some smaller private liberal arts colleges prioritize holistic admissions. They may weigh factors like your high school GPA, personal essay, and extracurricular activities more heavily than standardized test scores.

4. Test-Optional Schools

An increasing number of colleges have become test-optional, allowing applicants to decide whether or not to submit their SAT scores. In such cases, a strong overall application, including a compelling essay and letters of recommendation, can outweigh a lower SAT score.

What Is A 980 SAT Score?

A 980 SAT score is a combined score that reflects your performance on the SAT exam, which is a standardized test commonly used for college admissions in the United States. The SAT consists of two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math. Each section is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points.

So, when you receive a 980 SAT score, it means that your combined score for the EBRW and Math sections is 980 out of a possible total of 1600 points. This score is below the national average and may limit your options when it comes to college admissions, as many colleges and universities have higher average SAT score requirements for their applicants. However, it’s essential to remember that the competitiveness of your score depends on the specific colleges or universities to which you’re applying.

Some schools have lower score requirements, while others have much higher ones. It’s a good idea to research the admission requirements of the institutions you’re interested in to see how your score aligns with their expectations. Additionally, many schools have adopted test-optional policies, which means they don’t require SAT scores for admission, so you should also explore whether this policy applies to the schools you’re considering.

Alternatives To The SAT

In recent years, the landscape of college admissions has evolved, and standardized tests are becoming less central. Here are some alternatives and strategies to consider:

1. Test-Optional Colleges

As mentioned earlier, many colleges no longer require SAT scores for admission. This means you can choose to withhold your score if it doesn’t reflect your abilities or potential.

2. Test-Flexible Colleges

Some colleges accept alternative standardized tests like the ACT or SAT subject tests in place of the SAT. Be sure to check the specific requirements of each institution.

3. SAT Score Improvement

If you believe you can improve your SAT score significantly with additional preparation and practice, consider retaking the test. Many colleges accept your highest scores.

4. Emphasize Other Strengths

Highlight your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and any other strengths or talents in your application. These factors can help compensate for a lower SAT score.

Research And Application Strategy

When considering colleges with a 980 SAT score, it’s crucial to research institutions thoroughly. Look at factors such as location, size, majors offered, and campus culture to find colleges that align with your goals and preferences.

Additionally, pay close attention to the application process and deadlines. Craft a compelling personal essay that showcases your passion and unique qualities. Secure strong letters of recommendation, ideally from teachers or mentors who know you well academically and personally.

Importance Of SAT Scores

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test widely used in the United States for college admissions. It’s designed to assess a student’s readiness for college and provide colleges with a common data point that can be used to compare applicants. While SAT scores are just one part of the college application process, they can play a significant role in the admissions decision. Here are some of the reasons why SAT scores are considered important:

Standardized Comparison

SAT scores provide colleges with a standardized way to compare students from different high schools and backgrounds. Since high schools can have varying grading systems and course offerings, standardized test scores like the SAT can help colleges evaluate applicants on a level playing field.

Predictive Value

Research has shown that SAT scores can be predictive of a student’s potential success in college. While they are not the only predictor, they can provide admissions officers with insights into a student’s academic abilities and readiness for college-level work.

Merit Scholarships

Many colleges and universities offer merit-based scholarships to students based on their SAT scores. Higher scores can make students more competitive for these scholarships, which can significantly reduce the cost of attending college.

Admissions Criteria

Some colleges use SAT scores as a key component of their admissions criteria. While an increasing number of schools have moved to test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies, others still consider SAT scores alongside other factors like high school GPA, extracurricular activities, and essays.

Course Placement

In addition to admissions, SAT scores can also be used for course placement. Some colleges may use SAT scores to determine whether students need to take remedial courses in subjects like math or English before enrolling in college-level classes.


SAT scores can also be used for educational accountability purposes. They provide data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of high school education systems and identify areas where improvement may be needed.


For students, SAT scores can serve as a self-assessment tool. They can help students gauge their academic strengths and weaknesses, which can inform their college and career plans.

It’s worth noting that the importance of SAT scores has been a subject of debate in recent years. Some colleges have moved away from requiring SAT scores for admissions, citing concerns about bias, accessibility, and the test’s ability to predict college success. As a result, many colleges now have test-optional or test-flexible policies, allowing students to decide whether to submit SAT scores as part of their application.

Ultimately, the importance of SAT scores in the college admissions process varies from one institution to another and can depend on a variety of factors, including the specific admissions policies of the college or university in question. Students should research the admission requirements of the schools they are interested in to understand how much weight SAT scores carry in their application process.

Factors Influencing College Acceptance

College acceptance is influenced by a variety of factors, and a test score like 980 (assuming you’re referring to a standardized test score, possibly the SAT or ACT) is just one of them. College admission decisions are typically based on a holistic review of an applicant’s profile. Here are some of the key factors that colleges consider when evaluating applications:

Academic Performance

Your high school GPA and the rigor of your coursework are often given significant weight. A 980 test score might be seen as below average, but a strong GPA can compensate for this to some extent.

Standardized Test Scores: While a 980 may not be considered a high score at many colleges, some schools have more lenient admission criteria. Research colleges and universities that accept scores in this range and consider applying to them.

Letters of Recommendation

Strong letters of recommendation from teachers or other individuals who can speak to your abilities, character, and potential as a student can be influential.

Extracurricular Activities

Your involvement in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, volunteer work, or part-time jobs, can demonstrate your interests, leadership skills, and commitment.

Personal Statement/Essays

Well-written essays and personal statements can provide insight into your character, experiences, and aspirations. They offer an opportunity to explain any challenges you may have faced in your academic journey.


Some colleges conduct interviews, either in-person or virtually. These can be a chance to showcase your personality, passion, and interest in the school.


Many colleges aim to create diverse student bodies. Your background, ethnicity, and experiences can be factors in the admission decision.

Special Talents

If you have special talents or skills in areas like music, art, athletics, or other extracurricular activities, these can sometimes play a role in admissions decisions, particularly at schools with specialized programs.

Demonstrated Interest

Some colleges track how interested you are in attending their institution. Visiting the campus, attending information sessions, or engaging with the school through other means can show your commitment.

Class Rank

Some high schools provide class rank information, which can give colleges context for your academic performance relative to your peers.

Special Circumstances

If you have faced significant challenges or hardships that have affected your academic record, some colleges may take these into account.

Legacy Status

In some cases, being a legacy applicant (having a family member who attended the same college) can be a factor, although its importance varies among institutions.

Geographic Location

Some colleges may give preference to students from their state or region, while others aim for a geographically diverse student body.

It’s essential to research the specific admission criteria for each college you’re interested in, as these factors can vary widely from one institution to another. Additionally, colleges often use a combination of these factors to make their decisions, and there is no universal formula for acceptance. If you’re concerned about a lower test score, consider retaking the test or focusing on strengthening other aspects of your application to improve your overall profile.

Colleges with Lower SAT Score Requirements

Colleges and universities have a wide range of SAT score requirements, and some institutions are known for being more flexible when it comes to standardized test scores. Keep in mind that many colleges and universities have moved toward test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies, which means they don’t require SAT scores for admission or offer applicants the choice of whether to submit them.

It’s important to note that admission requirements can change over time, so I recommend checking the official websites of these colleges for the most up-to-date information. Additionally, other factors like your high school GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and personal essays also play a significant role in the admission process.

Here is a list of colleges that have historically been known for having lower SAT score requirements or being test-optional:

Hampshire College (Amherst, Massachusetts)

Hampshire College has been test-optional for several years and places a strong emphasis on students’ qualitative attributes.

Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York)

Sarah Lawrence has a test-optional policy and takes a holistic approach to admissions.

New School (New York City, New York) –

The New School is test-optional and focuses on creative and critical thinking skills.

Warren Wilson College (Asheville, North Carolina) –

This college has a test-optional policy and values community engagement and service.

Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana)

Earlham College is test-optional and places a strong emphasis on academic and personal growth.

Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)

Bard is test-optional and looks for students who are intellectually curious.

Knox College (Galesburg, Illinois)

Knox College is test-optional and focuses on the overall academic and personal potential of applicants.

University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

While the University of Chicago is not test-optional, they are test-flexible, meaning they accept a variety of standardized tests in place of the SAT or ACT.

Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas)

Texas A&M has a holistic admissions process and doesn’t rely solely on SAT scores for admission.

George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) –

GWU has a test-optional policy and emphasizes a holistic review process.

Remember that admission policies can change, so it’s crucial to verify the current requirements and policies for each college you are interested in applying to. Additionally, consider reaching out to the admissions offices of these institutions for the most accurate and up-to-date information on their admission requirements.

Improving Your College Application

Improving your college application with a 980 SAT score can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. While standardized test scores are an important part of your application, they are not the only factor that colleges consider. Here are some strategies to enhance your college application:

Focus on Your Academic Performance:

Work hard to maintain a strong GPA. High grades in challenging courses can demonstrate your academic abilities.
Consider taking advanced courses, such as honors or AP classes, if they are available at your school.

Extracurricular Activities

Get involved in extracurricular activities that align with your interests and passions. This could include clubs, sports, community service, or leadership roles.
Highlight any achievements or leadership positions within these activities on your application.

Write a Compelling Personal Statement/Essay

Craft a well-written personal statement that explains your background, experiences, and goals.
Use the essay to showcase your personality, character, and what makes you unique. Admissions officers are interested in more than just test scores.

Strong Letters of Recommendation

Request letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors who can speak to your abilities, character, and potential.
Make sure to give them ample time to write thoughtful letters.

Demonstrate Interest

Show your interest in the colleges you are applying to by attending information sessions, campus tours, or virtual events.
Mention specific aspects of the college in your application that align with your goals and interests.

Explain Your SAT Score

If there are extenuating circumstances that affected your SAT score, consider addressing them in your application.
Explain how you have improved or learned from any challenges you faced.

Consider Test-Optional Schools

Many colleges have become test-optional in recent years, meaning they do not require SAT or ACT scores. Research these schools and apply to some that align with your goals.

Diverse Interests and Talents:

Showcase any unique talents, hobbies, or experiences you have that set you apart from other applicants.

Community Involvement and Volunteering

Highlight any volunteer work or community involvement. This demonstrates your commitment to making a positive impact.

Work Experience

If you have work experience, emphasize the skills and responsibilities you gained from these roles.
Apply to a Range of Colleges:

Apply to a mix of reach, match, and safety schools. Reach schools are those where your credentials are below the average admitted student, match schools are where your credentials are similar, and safety schools are where you exceed the average admitted student.

Consider Test Prep or Retaking the SAT

If you have the opportunity and resources, you may want to consider retaking the SAT after additional preparation.
Remember that college admissions are holistic, and many colleges consider more than just test scores. Highlight your strengths, experiences, and potential for growth in your application. Admission decisions are not solely based on SAT scores, so use the other components of your application to your advantage.

Unique Programs And Majors

Some colleges may have specific programs or majors with different admission standards. Research colleges thoroughly to find those that align with your academic and career interests.

Financial Aid And Scholarships

Financial aid and scholarships can significantly reduce the financial burden of college. Even with a lower SAT score, you may still be eligible for merit-based scholarships or need-based financial aid.

Successfully applying to colleges involves more than just test scores. Craft a compelling personal essay, secure strong recommendation letters, and meet application deadlines.



A 980 SAT score is not the end of your college dreams. Many colleges are willing to look beyond scores to consider your unique qualities and potential. With dedication, strategic planning, and perseverance, you can find the right college that aligns with your goals and ambitions.


1: What should I do if my SAT score is below 980?
Consider retaking the SAT to improve your score and focus on strengthening other aspects of your college application.

 2: Are there colleges that don’t consider SAT scores at all?
Yes, many colleges have adopted test-optional policies, which means you can choose whether or not to submit your SAT scores.

3: Can a strong GPA compensate for a lower SAT score?
Yes, a high GPA can offset a lower SAT score. Colleges appreciate consistent academic achievement.


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