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5 Reasons Why You Should Still Consider Taking the SAT/ACT Despite Test-Optional Policies

In recent years, the college admissions landscape has witnessed significant changes. With the adoption of test-optional policies by many colleges and universities, you can now choose whether or not to submit your standardized test scores. Columbia University's decision to go permanently test-optional made headlines as the first Ivy League school to do so. Partially in response to this trend, the College Board is set to introduce a digital version of the SAT next year. As a result, students and their families are now faced with navigating this new terrain as they make crucial decisions about which schools to apply to and whether or not to submit their test scores.

Despite the shift toward test-optional admissions, here are 5 compelling reasons why you should still consider taking the SAT/ACT.

1. Many Schools Still Require or Consider SAT/ACT Scores for Admissions

Despite the recent shift towards test-optional policies, many colleges and universities - especially the more selective ones - still require test scores as part of their admissions process. In fact, several schools that went test-optional during the pandemic, such as MIT and Georgetown, have recently reinstated the SAT/ACT requirement. Similarly, Purdue University has announced its intention to return to requiring test scores for future admissions.

Even if a school is test-optional, some may still encourage applicants to submit their scores, as strong test scores can boost an applicant's chances of admission. For example, Emerson College advises that "students who feel that their standardized test scores will be beneficial to the review process are encouraged to submit their scores as part of the application process." Other schools, like the University of Iowa, may request additional academic information from applicants who do not submit standardized test scores, such as transcripts or a personal statement.

2. Scholarships and Financial Aid Programs May Require SAT/ACT Scores

Scholarships and financial aid programs may require SAT/ACT scores, so taking the test could open up more opportunities for financial aid and make college more affordable.

Here are a few scholarship programs that require or consider SAT/ACT scores as part of their application process:

  • National Merit Scholarship Program (PSAT)

  • The Gates Scholarship

  • Dell Scholars Program

  • Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

  • QuestBridge National College Match Program

Schools that offer merit-based scholarships may also require SAT scores, even if they have a test-optional policy for admissions. For instance, the University of Alabama is test-optional, but scholarships such as the UA Scholar and Presidential Scholar require a minimum SAT score. Similarly, at the University of Iowa, “students who are admitted with test scores above the institutional averages … will have more opportunities for merit scholarships compared to students who are admitted without a test score.”

Opting not to submit SAT/ACT scores could also put students at a disadvantage for

admissions to honors programs. At Auburn University, students who choose not to

submit test scores may have limited access to scholarships, honors participation, and other opportunities.

3. Submitting SAT/ACT Scores May Be Useful for Course Placement or Fulfilling Minimum Requirements

Submitting SAT scores can also be useful for course placement, ensuring that you’re placed in the appropriate course. While the University of California system “does not consider SAT or ACT test scores for admissions decisions or scholarships, it may use these scores as an alternative method for fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after enrollment.” Similarly, if accepted to a California State University (CSU), ACT or SAT test scores can be used to place students in appropriate mathematics and written communication courses. At CUNY (City University of New York), students can also demonstrate proficiency in English and math based on their SAT, ACT, or NY State Regents test scores.

4. Scoring Well On the SAT/ACT Can Show That You’re Ready for College

Scoring well on the SAT/ACT can be important for demonstrating your academic abilities and readiness for college-level work, especially if your grades aren't as high as you'd like. This is particularly true for first-generation or low-income students, as high SAT scores can help level the playing field and demonstrate academic potential. Without standardized test scores like the SAT/ACT, admissions officers may rely more heavily on other factors, such as course rigor, which can pose a challenge for students attending high schools that do not offer advanced or rigorous coursework like AP or Honors classes. In these cases, a strong SAT/ACT score can make a difference.

5. SAT/ACT Preparation Can Help You Develop Important Skills

Preparing for the SAT/ACT exams can be a challenge for students who need to balance it with coursework and other responsibilities. However, this preparation can help you develop essential stress and time management and study skills that will serve you well in college. Additionally, you can improve your test-taking strategies, such as how to scan and prioritize information quickly, stay focused, and remain calm during the exam. Studying for the SAT/ACT can also improve your critical reading, reasoning, and math abilities, which are important skills for success in college coursework. Uprooted Academy can help you study for the SAT/ACT with useful prep tips and how to sneak some test prep into your summer schedule.

To summarize, taking the SAT/ACT can expand your options since many colleges and universities require or recommend SAT/ACT scores for admission. Moreover, submitting strong SAT/ACT scores can increase your eligibility for scholarships, set you apart from other college applicants, and demonstrate your academic abilities and potential. And, if you don’t score as well as you hoped, you always have the option not to submit your scores.

Ultimately, the decision to take the test is yours to make. But remember that colleges take into account many factors when reviewing applications, and while strong test scores are important, they’re just one piece of the puzzle. At Uprooted Academy, we're here to assist you with every aspect of the college application process, from your initial search to submitting your application. Get started with our FREE Step-by-Step College Advising Video Course so that you can apply to college with confidence and success!



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