Why You Should Take the ACT / SAT Even If It’s Optional

The ACT SAT scantron

Flickr user Karla Mora

Some college and universities actually don’t require you to take the ACT or SAT for your application or acceptance. However, even if your dream school is on the list of colleges that say the exams are “optional” it may still be in your best interests to take them. Here’s why you should still sign up for a test date:

You Could Win Scholarships

Some scholarships are actually granted due to your scores on the ACT or SAT. The PSAT, for example, is actually a competition (though great practice for the real deal) hosted by the National Merit Scholarship Program. If you score high enough, you could win recognition for your achievement in addition to a scholarship.

Local, regional, and state organizations also may grant you scholarships based on your scores on the ACT or SAT. Even if it’s not a main requirement to apply for the award, it could have influence on who they choose for their winner, especially if there is a tie between applicants.

Some Schools Require Them

While your dream college and the other schools on your “apply to list” may not require the ACT or SAT, it is still not a good idea to skip the tests. You may change your mind on where to apply to and those new schools may require that you have taken one of the tests.

This could turn into a potential issue if you discover a school you want to apply to late in the application process. If it’s getting close to the deadline, you may not have the opportunity to take the ACT or SAT prior to the cutoff. Even if you do have a chance to sit for the exam, you probably won’t have as much study time as you would like. It is in your best interest to take one of the tests on the chance you do decide to apply to another college.

It Gives Your Application a Boost

The ACT or SAT may be listed as completely optional, but that doesn’t mean it’s not recommended. It could actually be the tie breaking factor if your acceptance status ties with another student. If they took the exam and you didn’t, it could result in them receiving the acceptance letter instead.

Colleges also look at the extra initiative you took as a plus if you do decide to take the ACT or SAT. On top of that, a good score can show off your skill sets in reasoning or a particular subject. Taking one of the tests only benefits your college application.

Even if your dream school doesn’t require the SAT or ACT, it’s always a good idea to take one of them. Most colleges and universities still make them mandatory for their application process and even if they’re not absolutely required, are often recommended. It also doesn’t harm you to take the exam. Colleges will appreciate the steps you took to make your application well rounded and it could be the deciding factor for your acceptance.

Check out how your ACT/SAT score affects your acceptance odds with College Raptor!

Hilary Cairns

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