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

Last updated January 29, 2024

With many colleges no longer considering scores or making the SAT or ACT optional for admission, you may be wondering if it's worth it to take either exam at all. We’ve answered some of your questions on changes to college admissions requirements to help you decide if you should take these exams. Here's what you should know!

Do I need to take the SAT or ACT?

For a long time, a student’s scores on the SAT or ACT were a crucial component of their college applications. In 2020, many colleges and universities (almost 2,000 for fall 2024 admission) transitioned to test optional or test blind. This means that these schools will no longer require (or in some cases, even consider) a student’s SAT and ACT test scores when reviewing their applications for admission.

There are pros and cons to this. A pro is that colleges will now take a more comprehensive and in-depth look at a student’s application beyond their test scores. A con is that colleges may not consider or acknowledge a student’s test scores, which could be a major strength of their application.

The SAT and ACT may be optional for you to take, depending on what colleges you decide to apply to. When building your college list, be sure to take note of which schools do and don't require test scores so you know what to expect when it's time to apply. 

Understanding the difference between test optional and test blind

  • Test optional schools allow applicants to decide whether or not they submit test scores when applying. If a student does submit their scores, the school will consider them. Keep in mind each school has different policies on which scores to submit. You may be required to submit even lower test scores.
  • Test blind schools will not consider a student's SAT or ACT scores at all, even if they submit them.

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

Technically, no. However, when registering for the SAT or ACT, you are allowed four free score reports each, meaning that once your scores are available, they will automatically be sent to colleges of your choosing. When you register, we recommend selecting schools you want to have your scores sent to. If you change your mind, you can request that the SAT and ACT no longer send them. Read more here about how to send your SAT and ACT scores to colleges.

SAT and ACT test prep books sitting upright on a shelf - My College is Test Optional - Should I Still Take the SAT or ACT?

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

If a college you're applying to doesn't require you to submit your test scores, then generally, no. But it's important to know that without test scores, especially when you're applying to a school that's test optional, other parts of your application will become more important. This includes things like your GPA, application essays and personal statements, awards and achievements, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities

What are the benefits of taking the SAT or ACT if the schools I'm applying to don't require test scores?

There are still many benefits of taking these exams even if you don’t end up submitting your scores! Here's a few: 

  • Some colleges consider a students's SAT or ACT scores and GPA to award merit scholarships on their financial aid offer letters. If you do well on these exams, you could receive more financial aid! 
  • Many scholarships require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores when applying.
  • If you're applying to a school that requires test scores or is test optional, good SAT or ACT scores can strengthen your applications. 

Source: The Princeton Review

Have any questions about the SAT, ACT, or applying to college? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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