80% of Universities are Now Test-Optional, Should You Still Take It?
As more and more universities become test-optional, we discuss if it is still worth taking the SAT/ACT.
Admission requirements have changed tremendously in the last 18 months, according to FairTest, nearly 80% of U.S. bachelor degree-granting colleges and universities are not requiring the ACT or SAT scores from students enrolling in fall 2022 and beyond.
That number is an all-time high. And it’s not just public universities. Colleges such as Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, and Tufts are among those that are moving to test-blind, test-flexible or test-optional requirements. It’s important that you check the application requirements of the schools of your choice:
- Test optional means the university will let you decide if you will submit your test scores or not. The SAT or ACT score will be taken into consideration in the admission alongside your grades, extracurricular activities, etc.
- Test flexible means the university will allow you to submit other test scores in place of the SAT or ACT, such as one or more SAT Subject Tests, an International Baccalaureate exam, or Advanced Placement test.
- A test-blind college will not consider your test scores, even if you submit them.
Ok, so knowing that 8 out of every 10 universities are either test-optional or flexible or blind, you might wonder, why should I bother taking these tests? After all, taking the SAT is not an easy task, it requires lots of preparation and the test itself is really hard, ask anyone who took it.
Well, at USP we believe that as long as the tests are offered and the universities consider them for admissions, you should consider the tests as well, anyone can benefit from a good test score, especially student-athletes as well as international applicants.
Here you have the TOP 3 reasons to take a standardized test:
1. Stand out from the competition
Think about it, some schools receive over 75,000 applications. The scores on the SAT and ACT allow them to narrow down the candidates and make decisions on acceptance. Of course, it won’t be the main factor, but a good score can put you on the map.
The fact that the tests are optional translates into fewer students taking the SAT/ACT, therefore doing it and scoring big, will move you up on the lists like a rocket.
As a student-athlete, your SAT/ACT score can differentiate you from the competition. College coaches will be able to see a different side of you, allowing them to see a more well-rounded version of yourself. If there is another potential recruit with a similar athletic profile but with a weaker academic package, it’s likely coaches will offer you a spot first.
For international students, the SAT/ACT scores can be crucial, sometimes it’s very difficult to assess the academic level of a student coming from abroad. Standardized tests are the best way to measure your academic level.
Are you in the market for an Academic Scholarship? I bet you do.
Test scores are still being required for many scholarships and special grant programs. Some universities may require test scores to be considered for merit scholarships or to certain majors or programs such as STEM programs.
Remember, not all scholarships are awarded by the universities, you can apply to financial aid from other organizations that can still require the tests in order to qualify for it. These may be from local, state or private programs where your grades, academic achievements, and scores affect your eligibility.
Not taking the test may result in tens of thousands of dollars left on the table. Is not taking the exam worth that for you?
3. This trend could be reversed
Beware, some universities might reinstate testing requirements in the near future. Many of the changes made to admission requirements were temporary in response to the pandemic that affected everything. Now that most things are going back to normal, it is possible that universities will require test scores in the application again.
Especially considering that U.S. students will take the SAT entirely online beginning in 2024. This recent move by the College Board will probably bring back the test relevance.
What’s there to lose?
Above all, there’s a lot to win and almost nothing to lose when taking a standardized test. The months of preparation and the few hours of work during the test can pay tremendous dividends. But if you get a score that’s lower than what your wished school requires or a score that won’t get you in a position to stand out, then you can simply exercise your test-optional right to not submit the scores.
Not submitting test scores won’t affect students’ applications for test-optional universities.
Ultimately, these scores are not everything in your application but the tests provide important information beyond assessing achievement. Some studies have shown that SAT and ACT scores combined with your grade point average and other factors can help predict your success in college, especially in the crucial first year.
Think about it, discuss it with your family, and make the choice, but make sure you are doing everything in your power to get admitted, get recruited, and receive the scholarships you deserve!
The USP Team
If you want to learn more about the SAT and the ACT or get some great advice on test prep, watch the following videos from Dr. Jennifer Winward and our partners at Winward Academy.