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My College is Test Optional - Should I Still Take the SAT or ACT?

Last updated August 17, 2023

My College is Test Optional - Should I Still Take the SAT or ACT?

Thinking about taking the SAT? Currently, more than half of all 4-year colleges are “test optional”. Some colleges are even barred from accepting SAT or ACT scores. This means SAT or ACT scores are not necessarily a required part of your application.

You may now be wondering - should I still take the SAT or ACT? We’ve answered some of your questions on these recent changes to admissions testing to help you decide if you should (or should not) take the SAT or ACT to prepare for the college applications process.

Do I need to take the SAT or ACT?

Is the SAT or ACT required by your college? Check out the admissions requirements on the college’s website and carefully review the test requirements. See below for a variety of options of what you might see.

What does “test optional” mean?

There are a number of different ways that colleges handle the submission of SAT or ACT scores, so make sure you know exactly how the colleges you are applying to approach test scores.

  • Truly test optional schools will let you decide if you want to submit your test scores. If submitted, the school will take SAT or ACT scores into consideration but may focus more on other parts of your application.
  • Test flexible schools will allow you to submit scores for the SAT or ACT, or a different test in their place (such as a SAT Subject Test or AP test).
  • Test blind schools will not consider any scores, even if you include them in the application.

If I take the SAT or ACT, do I have to submit my score?

No. You control the release of your test scores but some colleges are still requiring the SAT or ACT, so make sure to check each application closely. College Board and the ACT will not release your scores without your consent and will only release it to the colleges you select.

Test Optional? Should I still take the SAT? Still take the ACT?

If I don’t take the SAT or ACT, will it hurt my application?

If the college does not require the test, then generally NO, it will not hurt your application. But know that without test scores other parts of your application will become more important. This includes your GPA, your college essay, awards and achievements, references, and any extracurricular activities you include. If you decide to opt-out of taking the SAT or ACT, make sure to really put the time and effort into your studies now, as well as putting effort into your college applications (check out our college application essay tips and 10 Activities to Boost your College Application!).

What are the benefits of taking the SAT or ACT even if my school doesn’t require a test score?

There are still many benefits of taking these exams even if you don’t end up submitting your score on your college application:

  • 25 states require SAT or ACT scores as part of high school graduation requirements. Check with your high school counselor to determine if your state requires a score from one of these two tests to receive your high school diploma.
  • Many colleges, including test optional schools, will use SAT or ACT scores to award merit scholarships for incoming students. If you do well on the test, your scores could benefit your financial aid greatly!
  • Many scholarships require an SAT or ACT score as part of the application process. Check out these Easy Scholarships You Can Apply to Right Now!
  • If you are a great test taker, taking the tests may boost your application.

Still not sure what to do? Check out for more information on each exam (like tips on how to get the highest SAT score possible) or text “College” to 33-55-77 for personalized advising as you get to college.

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