testing game plan

College Entrance Testing


    College Entrance Testing and Coronavirus

    For the Class of 2021, the coronavirus severely disrupted the typical process and expectations related to acquiring and utilizing college entrance exam scores, including both SAT Scores and ACT Scores.

    • The majority of SAT and ACT Test Administrations were cancelled in Spring 2020, and subsequent test dates have proven to be unreliable.  Consequently, many members of the Class of 2021 have had difficulty acquiring test scores.

    • In response to the difficulty students have had acquiring scores, the majority of colleges now have "Test-Optional" admissions policies for the 2020-21 application cycle, allowing students to have their application reviewed equitably with or without including SAT or ACT scores.

    • Different colleges have addressed their testing policy for future application cycles in various ways, from returning to a requirement for test scores to committing to ongoing test optional policies.

    For members of the Class of 2022 (and beyond), two recommendations:

    1. Proceed with a game plan to acquire SAT and/or ACT scores for use with any college that allows or requires the submission of college entrance test scores.  Even at a test-optional college, strong scores can be an asset to admissability.
    2. Include the entrance testing policy in the information you gather about colleges as you conduct your research.

    With the continued relevance of the goal to acquire college entrance test scores you feel represent your abilities well, our long-standing advice still pertains:


    Students should develop a timeline and game plan for their college entrance exam test prep and testing.  Which tests to take, when to take them, how to prepare, and whether the student qualifies for testing fee waivers or testing accommodations are all questions that need to be addressed.

    It is a very good strategic idea to take one or more college entrance tests in the spring of the junior year.  Most four-year colleges require either SAT scores or ACT scores to help them decide who to admit and/or to whom to award merit-based scholarships.   With rare exception, colleges that require test scores will accept scores from either test.

    Some colleges require that applicants submit SAT: Subject Tests in addition to SAT scores. Such colleges tend to be in the more selective or highly selective category.  Be sure to check the requirements of each school you may apply to.  The best time to take SAT: Subject Tests is at the end of a school year in which you’ve studied the material covered on the test.  Learn more about SAT: Subject Tests here.

    “Test-Optional” colleges don’t require SAT/ACT scores but rather allow you to choose if you will submit SAT/ACT scores.  Many two-year colleges and a growing number of four-year colleges don’t include them in their admissions process at all.  Your research will eventually teach you what entrance tests, if any, each of your college choices requires. (Visit Fairtest.org for a list of colleges that are test-optional.)



    Here are some quick tips as you consider taking the SAT and/or ACT:


    1.     Practice and Prepare for your college entrance tests.  

    a.     As with any test, prepping for the SAT/ACT will lead to a stronger score.   Practice materials, including the PSAT and the Pre-ACT are excellent "practice runs" you can take to improve your performance on the actual college entrance tests.  Both practice tests provide lots of feedback for you to use.

    b.     Consider using online prep tools, test prep books, and the SAT/ACT prep class offered at school (learn more about the class from Mr. Elder)


    2.    Register for the SAT and/or ACT online with the test agencies.

    a.     SAT:  www.sat.collegeboard.org

    b.     ACT: www.actstudent.org


    3.    Taking both the SAT and ACT in the spring of junior year allows you to identify which test shows off your strengths better.

    a.    In Spring 2018, College Board and ACT have released official concordance tables to convert SAT and ACT scores. View the concordance tables using resources created by Compass Education Group.


    4.    Compare your scores to the average or mid-50% range scores listed by the colleges you are considering.  Research the scores needed to qualify for different merit-based scholarships from the college.


    5.    You may be eligible for a fee-waiver, which provides a lot of additional resources beyond waiving the test fee.

    a.     Fee-waivers for both tests are available from your school counselor

    b.     ACT fee-waiver information 

    c.      SAT fee-waiver information


    6.    Consider retesting, or taking the other test, in the fall of senior year if:

    a.     Your scores end up being lower than the scores of admitted students listed by the colleges you are considering.

    b.     You want to try to qualify for a stronger merit award at a college.

    c.      You feel that your first scores don’t represent your best ability.


    7.     If you receive testing accommodations for school tests, you do not automatically receive them on the SAT/ACT.  Your accommodations must be approved by the test agency.  Speak to your school counselor to start the approval process.