Should I Take the SAT for Test Optional Schools?

(Editor’s Note: Given the continued cancellation of tests in 2021 and the College Board’s announcement that it would discontinue Subject Tests, we have revamped this article for 2021.)

Though the trend of going test optional isn’t new, COVID-19 has forced an unprecedented number of colleges to make the switch. Some have only announced that they will be test optional for the 2020-2021 application season, while others have made the switch for the next few years. You can find a list of test optional colleges here. For students, this means that the SAT for test optional schools is no longer part of the application requirement. But though you don’t need to send SAT scores to test optional colleges, that doesn’t mean you can’t. Most schools aren’t going test blind; this means that if you do send SAT scores to test optional schools, colleges will use them to assess your application. This leads many students to ask the important question: should I submit SAT scores for test optional schools?

Why take the SAT for test optional schools

Going test optional gives students more flexibility when getting their college applications ready. Though they aren’t required to submit SAT scores for test optional schools, many students should still consider taking the test and sending in their scores with their applications. Here’s why:

Taking the SAT will give you more options when it comes to submitting your applications.

  • By taking the SAT, you won’t be limited to applying only to test optional schools.
  • And if you never take the test, you won’t know how well you could’ve done!

A strong SAT score can make you stand out from the crowd.

  • If your GPA is already top-notch, a strong SAT score can help round out your application.
  • If you’re worried about a GPA that’s a little on the lower end (perhaps you didn’t realize how important grades would be your freshman year – no shame, we’ve been there), an SAT score can boost the academic side of your application.

The SAT for test optional schools may still be required for merit scholarships.

  • Though some test optional colleges have removed SAT scores from the requirements for merit scholarships, others have not. If you are hoping to apply for merit-based scholarships, you should check admissions requirements for the schools to which you are applying for current requirements.

With COVID-19 and the slew of SAT cancellation dates, fewer students have been able to test or re-test, so your score will mean more.

  • Whereas most students would normally take the SAT multiple times in order to improve their score and attempt a superscore, many won’t get that chance this year. This may lead to average scores for the classes of 2021 and 2022 to be lower than in previous years. That means that if you took the SAT just one time and still achieved a score in the 25th-75th percentile of admitted students’ scores for a particular college, it will be to your benefit to send in that score. Even if you’re at the lower end of that range, your SAT score can boost your chances instead of harming them.
  • To view SAT test dates and register for the test, visit the College Board website.

Though test optional schools aren’t supposed to penalize you for not submitting scores, some might view a lack of SAT scores as an indication that your scores would be low.

When not to send SAT scores to test optional schools

That said, not every student will benefit from sending SAT scores to test optional colleges. Here are some instances when you shouldn’t send scores:

  • If your SAT scores are significantly lower than the range of accepted scores to a particular college, sending your scores may hurt your application.
  • Health and safety are super important, so if you are unable or unwilling to test, you can still apply to a wide range of schools without SAT scores.
  • Some colleges will take other metrics, such as AP tests or school assignments, into consideration for the academic portion of your application. If you feel like other scores or assignments speak better of you than your SAT score, you can choose to not send your scores.

Preparing for the SAT for the test optional schools

So if you’re still asking yourself, “should I submit SAT scores for test optional colleges?”, the answer is likely yes. The good news is we’re here to simplify the process by helping you prepare for the SAT for test optional schools! Check out our variety of self-directed and one-on-one SAT prep options today.

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