Grade Inflation: High School Grades Are Up, SAT Scores Are Down

Updated: Feb 18

How many of you are familiar with the term "grade inflation"? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like. Over the years, the average high schooler's GPA has steadily risen.

Why does this happen? Simply because teachers are influenced to distribute higher and higher grades over time. Why? Simple. If students are not doing well, the school looks bad. If students are achieving, the school shines. And it becomes a competitive cycle because high school administrators keep track of what's happening at the other schools. When one school sees that another school's grades are rising, then they have to keep up, not only to avoid looking bad, but high schools want to boast that a large percentage of their students go on to college. That can only happen with high grades.

If you are a high school student submitting your college application package, what does this mean in terms of your chances of getting accepted into the college of your choice? According to a 2017 study by Michael Hurwitz, a researcher at the College Board, and Jason Lee, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, "... research shows that 47 percent of high school seniors graduated last year with an "A" average -- up from about 39 percent in 1998. But average SAT scores fell 24 points in that same period."

So even though colleges have made the SAT optional, now more than ever having a high SAT score will certainly help you stand out from the crowd and improve your chance of being selected, especially now that most of your competition will also have a high GPA.

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