Applying Test-Optional: Should You Still Take the ACT or SAT?

With more and more schools going test-optional, you may be wondering if you should still take the ACT or SAT. To clarify, when colleges are test-optional, they are waiving the requirement of ACT or SAT test scores. This gives you the choice to submit testing scores or not. Here we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of going test-optional, so you can make your ACT and SAT testing plans with confidence.

First things first, it’s important to look at the colleges you are interested in, and see where they stand on test scores. Test-flexible schools allow you to submit other types of test scores such as AP Tests to replace your SAT or ACT scores. Test-blind schools will not consider any scores, even if you provide them.

Are There Benefits of Including My Test Scores?

For many private and merit-based scholarships, ACT or SAT scores are required. To ensure you’re in a position that puts all financial options on the table, be sure to ask if your test scores are expected for scholarships or special programs. If you perform well on the test, it could boost your application overall and differentiate you from other applicants with similar qualifications. You are also providing a highly comparable benchmark for admissions counselors viewing your application. All in all, if financial aid is an essential factor in your college search, planning to take the ACT or SAT is something you may want to include in your plan regardless of the test-optional status of schools on your college list.

If I Don’t Include Test Scores, Will It Hurt My Application?

Many students worry that making the choice to forego their test scores may impact their admissions. If you decide not to take the ACT or SAT, it will not hurt your application. Just take note that there will be greater focus on other parts of your application. This includes your advanced-level coursework, college essay, GPA, extracurriculars, awards, honors, and letters of recommendation.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you want to include ACT or SAT scores in your college applications. If test-taking isn’t your strength, and you feel confident in other parts of your application, don’t feel pressured to take the test. If you are comfortable with standardized testing and hope to qualify for specific scholarships that call for ACT/SAT scores, do your thing! All that matters is that you are making a decision that feels right for you. If you’re still unsure, you may find that you have nothing to lose by taking the ACT and SAT!

Here is the link to the ACT registration calendar. For the SAT, you can find their registration deadlines here. Be sure to look into ACT and SAT’s free services that connect with your best-fit college and scholarship opportunities!