SAT’s: Do I HAVE to Take Them?

I remember taking the SAT’s myself. I bounce my leg up and down when I’m anxious, and I remember doing that and realizing I was probably bothering those around me. I was trying to sit still for hours and take what I thought would be the most important test of my life (it wasn’t).

Taking the SAT is not fun, no matter who you are. Even we college counselors at Campus Bound generally aren’t huge fans of the test. There are a lot of flaws with it and we know it can stress out our clients. We would love nothing more than to be able to say, “Don’t worry about it; don’t take it!” However, that’s not the general advice we can give.

The Pandemic Shook Things Up

When the pandemic hit, SAT/ ACT test dates were being cancelled left and right. Students simply couldn’t take the test. As a result, many colleges decided to go test-optional or test-blind (more on that below). It simply wouldn’t be fair to require a test that many students didn’t have the ability to take. Then, test dates slowly came back and students did have the ability to sit for the exam, and some colleges have gone back to requiring the test. 

Test-Optional vs Test-Blind

Even before the pandemic some colleges were test-optional, that means that a college will consider scores if submitted, but they aren’t required. Now some colleges are test-blind, which means they won’t even consider scores when making their admission decision. At a test-optional college, a high score on the SAT or ACT could help a student’s chances of being admitted. However, at a test-blind college, they won’t look at the score no matter what. 

Test Required

While many colleges went test-optional or test-blind because of the pandemic, the fact that the SAT and ACT are now offered more safely and often, some colleges have gone back to test-required. That is, they won’t review an application without test scores. This is typically very competitive colleges, and very large schools. If a college requires it for the admission process, you must submit scores to be considered. 

A Good Score Can Help

It boils down to the fact that a “good” score on the SAT or ACT can help a student’s chances of being admitted to the majority of colleges. With so many students choosing to not submit scores, students who do submit have a chance to stand out. That being said, we generally don’t advise students whose scores fall in the lower 25% of accepted students’ scores to submit them if the school is test optional. 

Bottom Line

While we would love nothing more than to say “Don’t worry about it!”, the fact is that it makes a lot of sense to take a practice SAT or ACT and then at least one official test. That way, if any of your schools require it, you have a score to send in. Always check the college’s admission website for the most accurate information about requirements.

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