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Do I Still Need to Take the ACT or SAT in 2022?

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Several colleges have adopted test-optional policies lately owing to the pandemic-induced challenges. Students are hence in a dilemma about whether SAT/ACT is still significant. While students previously used SAT/ACT scores to get an edge over their peers during the application process, some universities have now gone to the extent of preventing colleges from accepting SAT/ACT scores.

Whether you need to take an SAT/ACT depends on a lot of factors. SAT/ACT scores are still beneficial to students in many ways. This article will answer all your questions about the significance of SAT/ACT scores when seeking admission to colleges.

What does test-optional mean?

You need to first understand the college requirements before deciding whether to appear for these tests. Right now, there is some confusion among students about what test-optional means. Read on to gain some clarity around the term test-optional.

  1. Test-optional schools will let the students decide if they want to submit their SAT/ACT scores. Though colleges will consider the scores if the students choose to submit them, other factors in the application may receive more attention.

  2. Test-blind schools won’t consider the scores even if they are included in the application.

  3. Test-flexible schools will allow students to submit SAT/ACT scores or attempt a different test such as an AP test.

You can take the SAT/ACT test and later decide whether or not to reveal your scores depending on the college requirements. The College Board or ACT won’t release the scores without the students’ permission.

A student submitting an exam sheet
Students can choose whether or not to submit their SAT/ACT scores to the college

Why should I take the test?

You need to take the test if you find yourself in the below-discussed situations.

1. Your university applications require standardized test scores

Some universities demand test scores from students to determine their college readiness. Students need to appear for the SAT/ACT if their college mandates score submission during the application process. You can apply to colleges with a lower SAT/ACT score requirement but higher scores will always boost the chances of admission. Since most universities today are fine with either of the scores, students can choose to take the ACT or SAT after assessing their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Your major requires standardized test scores

While some universities may not demand test scores, certain departments within the universities may necessitate the submission of standardized test scores. SAT score requirements differ from department to department. Students wanting to major in architecture, engineering, design, or nursing will have to meet the requirements stated by the respective departments. Students should do some basic research on the programs they are interested in and take an SAT/ACT test accordingly.

Why should I not take the test?

There is no need to appear for the SAT/ACT for the below-mentioned reasons:

1. Your college is test-optional

If the college you are planning to seek admission to does not require SAT/ACT scores, you don’t have to fret too much about including the scores in your application. However, students will have to strengthen their application with other relevant school achievements and letters of recommendation from teachers in the absence of test scores.

2. You are applying to community colleges

Most community colleges don’t demand SAT/ACT scores. If you are planning to get into a community college, there is no need to appear for the SAT/ACT. GED or diploma would suffice when applying for a community college. However, students should cross-verify the college requirements before applying. Some community college programs mandate test score submission and basic research is recommended to make well-informed decisions.

3. You want to go to a trade school

Similar to community colleges, trade schools are open enrollment schools and don’t require test scores. Trade schools don’t require a high school diploma or GED as well.

4. You are applying to international universities

Taking an SAT/ACT isn’t mandatory if you are applying to colleges in other countries. You will only have to submit proof of language proficiency, high school transcript, and scores of other relevant tests as specified by the college.

A university campus
Some colleges do not demand SAT/ACT scores for their applicants

What are the benefits of taking the SAT/ACT even if the school doesn’t demand test scores?

Even if a majority of the universities have gone test-optional, a good SAT/ACT score can boost your chances of securing admission to top-tier colleges. Here are a few benefits of taking an SAT/ACT anyway:

1. By going test-optional, colleges intend to remove the barriers to access. However, it was observed that approximately 75% of the students successfully got an early admission by submitting test scores in test-optional colleges. This proves that students with impressive test scores are likely to get an edge over students who didn’t take a test.

2. Including SAT/ACT scores in the application will be immensely beneficial if applying for a scholarship. Research proves that around 60% of scholarships demand the inclusion of SAT/ACT scores in the application. Several colleges award scholarships to students based on their standardized test scores. Students with high test scores can become eligible for scholarships and get better financial aid.

3. Great test scores can compensate for a lower GPA. Students who were homeschooled or didn’t attend a reputable high school can use test scores to highlight their true abilities.

In a nutshell

Though colleges went test-optional during the lockdown period, some of them may reinstate testing requirements in the future. Submitting test scores helps showcase your strengths and may balance out other parts of your application that are less impressive. Taking a test is especially important when applying for scholarships, transfers, or special programs. Some public colleges automatically award scholarships on seeing test scores. Students are recommended to take the tests anyway so they will have a choice to include the scores if the results turn out to be great. On the contrary, you can avoid submitting the scores and focus on other parts of the application if they are not worth disclosing.


1. What if I don’t have time to prepare for both the SAT and ACT at the same time?

First, examine which test dates work with your schedule. If you can’t prepare for both the tests, choose the test that best aligns with your strengths and weaknesses. You can take practice tests available online to determine your strengths and prepare for the one which seems relatively easy.

2. Do I need to take the SAT/ACT for high school summer programs?

Several students who wish to get into a top college participate in summer education programs while in high school. SAT/ACT scores are essential to qualifying for certain summer programs. It would be better to take an SAT/ACT if you have your heart set on top summer programs like NUMATS.

3. What if I get a low score on one of the tests?

If you get a low score on either SAT or ACT, you can choose to submit the higher score. One test score is enough to prove your academic potential and most colleges won’t insist on submitting both the scores. Focus on improving the highest score if you didn’t perform well on both tests.

4. What if I can’t afford to take the test?

SAT/ACT offers fee waiver programs to eligible students so lack of financial aid doesn't deny opportunities for deserving students. You can contact your school counselor to see if you are eligible for the fee waiver program.

Wrapping Up

SAT/ACT preparation requires tremendous effort and commitment. However, with the right tutor by your side, the entire preparation process will seem less cumbersome. Prestige Institute is a leading SAT/ACT preparation agency providing top-notch training for test-takers. Our individualized care system sets us apart from other programs as we leverage student data to deliver a personalized experience. With the flexibility to choose between in-person and online sessions, students can benefit from interactive tutoring sessions customized to their needs. Get in touch with us today to expedite your test preparation process with effective guidance from top tutors.

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