Should You Submit a Test Score to Test-Optional Colleges?

2020 act sat test dates

In 2020, many colleges and universities cancelled the SAT or ACT score requirement for admissions, opting to go test-optional. As this trend continues into 2021, where does that leave you as a student taking the SAT or ACT test? If you’re applying to colleges this fall, should you still take the ACT or SAT test? 

List of Colleges Going Test Optional

Test-Optional Doesn’t Mean Easier Admission

Let’s first talk about an important cause and effect relationship that has happened before. When the Common App was first made available, it was revolutionary; one form filled out was all or at least most of what a student needed to apply to most schools. It eased many of the difficulties students had when applying to multiple schools. Thus, students began to apply to as much as three times as many schools as they had before.   

However, just because it was easier to apply to a certain college or university did not mean it was easier to get in. We are seeing a similar situation right now. Many schools have reduced their testing requirements and/or allowed for a test-optional application. Thus, students can apply to more schools than they could before. But just because a test score is not required does not mean it will be easier to get in. Schools are not changing how many students they admit or the quality of students they admit. 

Percent Admittance May Decrease

In fact, you may see percent admittance go down. The percent of students admitted into a school is determined by the total admitted students divided by the total number that applied.  

So, if a school is not letting more students in than they did before but they are getting more applicants then… same numerator with a larger denominator… the percent admittance goes down. 

You may see percent admittance go down. In other words, the school becomes harder to get into.

In other words, the school becomes harder to get into. Therefore, applying with a test score, even if it is optional, can help you distinguish yourself as an applicant and provide the school with a fuller picture of your academic abilities. 

Submitting Your Score Shows Admissions Officers The Fullest Picture

Schools will know what testing options are or were available to students, even if this varies by state. In other words, let’s say two students from the same school apply to the same college.  One applies with a test score but the other student does not…who do you think will have a more complete application? The one student is simply providing yet another piece of information for admissions officers to consider, even if this information is not required. In submitting a test score, the student is providing a more complete picture of their academic abilities.

ACT or SAT Scores and Scholarships

Additionally, if you are applying for scholarships, they will likely still have testing requirements. Scholarships need a variety of quantitative data – data that is objective – to verify that scholarship recipients are meeting minimum requirements. Choosing not to take the ACT or SAT when you have the opportunity to could make these scholarship opportunities unavailable to you.   

So Should You Still Take the SAT or ACT Test?

The takeaway here is that if you can take the test, then you should. 

We know that a lot is changing and things will continue to change from week to week. Make sure you are checking the SAT and ACT website for updates to the overall testing timeline, registration, and other policies.  

The takeaway here is that if you can take the test, then you should. 

Additionally, you need to monitor your individual testing center.  As different regions continue to make different decisions, it is important to know what is happening at your specific testing center.

When is the Next ACT Test?

So far, there are three confirmed ACT test dates in 2021. If you are taking this test, you should closely monitor the COVID-19 situation in your area as the test may be canceled due to local guidelines. 

2021 ACT Test Dates 

Test DateRegistration DeadlineLate Fee Required
April 17March 12No late fees
June 12May 7May 8 – May 21
July 17*June 18June 19 – June 25

*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the July test date.

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When is the Next SAT Test?

There are three confirmed SAT test dates in 2021:

2021 SAT Test Dates

Test DateRegistration DeadlineLate Registration
March 13February 12March 2
May 8April 8April 27
June 5May 6May 26

List of 2021 SAT Test Dates

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