Test-Optional: Should you still take the SAT® or ACT®?

Our first answer: Yes!

Strong test scores will help your application, even at test-optional schools. Highly competitive students will continue to get high test scores and will continue to submit them — if you don’t, you will miss out on an opportunity to add a strong data point to your application. Test score importance may decrease in future years, but for now, most believe strong scores will still enhance an application this year.

If you take it and get scores you’d rather not submit, you can still make that call. But don’t sell yourself short by not giving it your best shot — go for a high score! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And if you take and decide not to submit, nothing lost. But also keep in mind that if you don’t submit scores, the school may assume that it’s because they were really low — if they’re not that bad, probably better to submit actual numbers!

Schools also use test scores for scholarships and course placement and to qualify, you typically must submit scores.

Our second answer: Maybe Not!

If you absolutely can’t take the test, then it’s okay to not take it. We recommend submitting scores if at all possible to provide as much information about yourself as you can, but taking the SAT or ACT may not be possible for all students applying this year. Schools know that the pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop and if needed, you’ll be able to explain why you couldn’t take the test. You can still submit a strong application without scores.

Double Check Your List

If you do have the option to take the test but are choosing not to, make absolutely sure that all the schools that you’re applying to are test-optional. You don’t want to run into a situation where you add a school to your list down the road and find out that they require scores — and that you can no longer register and take the test. To be on the safe side, if you can take the test, take the test!



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