Why Do Some Colleges Require the ACT/SAT and Others Don’t?

What are test optional colleges and why are some colleges not test optional?

Flickr user Andrew Taylor

While a majority of colleges and universities still do require students to submit their ACT/SAT test scores, there is a growing trend of schools that don’t require scores. These are known as test-optional schools. 

Why Test-Optional?

There is an ongoing debate about the validity of standardized testing exams. Some argue that they aren’t an accurate representation of a student’s academic aptitude, others argue that too much focus is put on obtaining a high score that other elements of a college app are unfairly neglected (like the importance of the personal app essay).

Different schools will have different opinions on the ACT and SAT, and their application requirements will reflect their philosophies. Test-Optional means that a student is still allowed to submit their test results (they can still earn kudos for their score), but it isn’t considered mandatory.

This can be a breath of relief for students who have strong academics, but don’t necessarily test well.

Should I Take the ACT / SAT Then?

Yes! There are still a multitude of reasons to take the ACT / SAT exam. Here are a few:

Most Colleges Require Them

Though there’s an upward trend of test-optional schools, a majority still require them as part of the app process. It’s doubtful that your entire college list contains only test-optional colleges, so you’ll still need to take the test.

Scholarship Awards

The higher your ACT / SAT score, the more scholarships you can qualify for. Even merit-based scholarships that have little-to-nothing to do with academics (ie: a sport’s scholarship or a religion-based scholarship) might have an ACT / SAT score minimum to match.

Boost Your Odds

Even at test-optional colleges, a good score can still tip the odds in your favor. It’s one more element that strengthens your application, so it’s worth putting the time and effort into it.

Check out how your ACT / SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

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