5 Reasons High School Juniors Should Still Plan to Take the SAT or ACT
Two-thirds of all four-year colleges in the U.S. are now test optional and more than 500 of these schools adopted test-optional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to , which maintains . The rise in test-optional colleges came as a relief to many college-bound students, as their opportunities to take the SAT and ACT was limited due to COVID-19.
But what does this mean for current high school juniors (the graduating high school class of 2022) and other students planning to apply to college next year? According to the , counselors are continuing to advise students to take college admissions tests if they can test safely. “The reality is that, as long as tests are still being offered, there’s something to be gained by students scoring well on them,” reported NACAC in its Fall 2020 .
Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider taking the SAT and/or ACT, even when many colleges have gone test-optional.
Many of the colleges on FairTest’s list of test-optional schools became test-optional temporarily to provide flexibility to students applying in 2020-2021. Some colleges have publicly stated that they will extend their test optional policies into the future, but not all. As more people get vaccinated for COVID-19, more SAT and ACT testing centers and dates will likely become more available. If so, it’s possible that some colleges will reinstate testing requirements. The landscape is still uncertain.
It’s important to remember that a test-optional college letter of recommendation, interview, or portfolio. You may submit any of these items to showcase your strengths and help admissions officers understand who you are.your test scores if you submit them, along with the other parts of your application. This is different than test-blind colleges, which will not consider ACT or SAT scores at all. At test-optional colleges, your test scores could be considered the same as any other “optional” part of an application, such as an optional essay,
If your SAT or ACT scores are strong (above the average of the college’s previously admitted freshmen), submitting them to a test-optional school can only help you -- and may balance out parts of your application that are less stellar.
Although some colleges will waive the test-score requirement for admissions, they might still require test scores for merit scholarships or admission to certain majors or honors programs. Some public colleges, such as , automatically award tuition discounts based on a combined minimum GPA and test score. Test scores might also be required if you plan to transfer colleges in the future, or for scholarships awarded by private institutions and organizations. Be sure to verify all scholarship, financial aid, and transfer requirements with your colleges before you apply.
It’s likely that there will still be many test-optional colleges next year to choose from and knowing this can reduce some of the pressure surrounding college admissions tests. If you can safely sit for the ACT or SAT and you score well, you can choose to submit your scores to enhance your application. If you are unable to take the SAT or ACT, or if you don’t do as well on the test as you hoped, you can choose not to submit your scores and focus on other parts of your application. Be sure to discuss these options – and the benefits and risks of sitting for the SAT or ACT – with your counselor and parents.