Colleges and Universities have gone and continue to go test optional - Here’s why students should take the SAT/ACT anyway.

By Anne Huntington Sharma, President of Huntington Learning Center

With COVID causing standardized tests to be postponed/cancelled, many colleges and universities have shifted to test-optional, test flexible, or test blind admissions models this year. With this in mind, many parents and students alike may think that standardized tests are no longer necessary for building a strong college application. While it may seem that way, the truth is that there are still many reasons your student should consider taking standardized tests. 

Test optional is just that - an option. Good test scores can still set you apart.

Test optional procedures mean that you have the option to submit, or not submit, your standardized test scores. If you choose not to submit, colleges say that you won’t be penalized on your application. But, solid test scores can help strengthen your application, even in a test-optional admissions environment. If you’ve taken the SAT or ACT, are happy with your scores, and meet or exceed the typical standardized test results required by the college you’re applying to, then you should still submit them. A strong SAT or ACT score can help balance out a lower-than-you’d-like GPA, as well. 

Many merit scholarships still rely on standardized test scores.

While many colleges and universities have made adjustments to their merit scholarship criteria (which usually consists of a minimum GPA and minimum SAT/ACT score), many still require standardized test scores in order to award financial support. If you plan to apply for merit-based scholarships, make sure you understand the requirements before choosing to forego a standardized test. 

Many college majors or programs may still require a test score.

Although the college or university you’re applying to may not require test scores going forward as part of the overall admissions process, if you’re planning to apply for a program where proving your knowledge of the subject is required for entry, you’re going to need a standardized test score. Before deciding not to take the SAT, ACT, AP or subject-specific test, check to see what the programs you’re applying to within the university require for admittance. 

While many colleges and universities are allowing for greater flexibility in test scores in order to accommodate the challenges presented by the pandemic, it’s clear that standardized testing will, for the foreseeable future anyway, continue to be an important part of building a strong college application. Even if the school of your student’s dreams doesn’t require the SAT or ACT this year, it’s still worthwhile to take it - especially if your student is a strong test-taker, or intends on applying for scholarships. 

If your child hasn’t yet taken the test but would like to, don’t delay - there is only one test date remaining for the SAT (12/5) and ACT (12/12) before most college applications are due in January. And it’s never too late to prep! Call 1-800-CAN-LEARN to learn how Huntington can help.


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