Students and Families Resources
Getting Ready for College Tests
Most four-year colleges require students to take an admissions test and accept results from both the SAT and the ACT. Factors like how students handle time pressure and what types of questions they find most challenging can help them determine whether the SAT or ACT is a better fit. The best way for students to decide is to take a timed full-length practice test of each type.
Test scores provide colleges with a common data point that can be used to compare all applicants and gage readiness for college-level work. College admissions officers will review standardized test scores alongside students’ high school classes and GPA during the admissions process. The importance of test scores in the college application process varies from school to school. While some schools have a “test optional” admission policy, students are encouraged to make the best possible effort with the SAT and ACT to ensure they have the most options for undergraduate and post-grad entry.
Overall, the higher students score on the ACT and/or SAT, the more options they have for attending and paying for college. Research shows that when students take their chosen test several times, scores improve with each test attempt.
With disruption and cancellations of standardized testing due to COVID-19, colleges are making changes to their admission policies regarding test results. For example the CSU system has temporarily suspended the requirement for results in determining admissions for the 2021-2022 school year. Students are advised to verify the most current policies around standardized testing, and plan accordingly.
Updated July 2020