April 11, 2022
The limited testing availability throughout the COVID-19 pandemic caused many universities to waive their standardized testing requirements. This phenomenon has added to the already growing number of schools that have test-optional admissions policies. However, taking the ACT and SAT can still be advantageous to high-schoolers looking to get into a good college. Additionally, counselors from the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) suggest that students take college admissions tests when possible.
Students may be able to get accepted into the school of their choice with no ACT or SAT test scores. However, there are other reasons why the traditional standardized tests are still worth taking.
As mentioned previously, many colleges became test-optional because of the difficulty of testing during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Test-optional” means that students are no longer required to submit an SAT or ACT test score for admission, but they can still choose to submit it with their application.
Certain colleges have announced their intentions to continue with test-optional policies. Still, others have maintained that their testing requirements will resume when it becomes safe. The situation is constantly evolving, and the best way to ensure that students can keep up may be to take the ACT or SAT. This way, students will not be caught off-guard with changes, regardless of what the near future brings.
In an effort to bring more equity and diversity to the admissions process, some colleges have been test-optional or scores optional for many years. Other colleges have become "test-flexible," meaning they may consider AP scores and subject tests instead of the ACT or SAT. However, even test-optional and test-flexible universities strongly encourage students to share their standardized test scores if they are reflective of a student's abilities.
Unlike test-blind colleges, test-optional schools will consider a standardized test score from students who submit them. If the scores are strong, they may help increase a student’s chances of admission by showing their academic strengths and potential.
The number of applications to test-optional schools is increasing. Students who perform well on standardized tests may find that their college application stands out among others.
Even with waived testing requirements, many colleges still require an ACT or SAT score for merit-based scholarships. Some universities award pre-determined scholarships or reduced tuition based on the minimum GPA requirement and standardized test scores. Strong SAT or ACT scores (in conjunction with school grades) can also determine a student’s admission to selective honors programs. Additionally, students who want to participate in college-level athletics need to meet the required ACT or SAT scores set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Standardized test scores aren't only used as part of the college admissions process. Colleges may use SAT or ACT scores to place students in certain general education courses. For example, test-takers who earned a high English score on the ACT or a high Critical Reading score on the SAT may be placed in an advanced English class. Some universities might even use high test scores to allow students to test out of specific general education classes. In some cases, a high test score can result in students receiving multiple college credits and saving them tuition dollars.
Today, students have many options to affordably prepare for the ACT and SAT. It is no longer necessary for parents to shell out $2,000 to $6,000 for standardized test prep courses or expensive tutors. Online resources, like Khan Academy, provide free practice ACTs and SATs.
Some universities, like LSU, provide free study resources for the ACT and SAT. Students may also find reasonably priced books and study aids from reputable websites and education companies across the country.
LSU Online and Continuing Education offers several rigorous, affordable ACT and SAT prep resources to students. Options include live online courses and free strategy workshops.
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