Parents often ask how important are standardized college test scores. The importance of the SAT or ACT scores should not be underestimated. Colleges certainly take many factors into consideration when they make an admissions decision, but scores on the ACT or SAT give them the easiest tool with which to compare students.
Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer for a moment. Which should you value more: Applicant A's semester in France or Applicant B's solo performance in the all-state symphony? It's a hard call. But a 34 on the ACT is undeniably more impressive than a 28.