Colleges are Going Test-Optional. Should You Still Take the ACT or SAT Test?

2020 act sat test dates

By Cristina Moyer

As the College Board and ACT, Inc cancel test after test due to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities are also canceling certain admission requirements; namely, the SAT or ACT score requirement. As more and more colleges are allowing for test-optional applications, where does that leave you? If you’re applying to colleges this fall, should you still take the ACT or SAT test? 

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.

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When is the Next ACT Test?

As of May 2020, the next ACT test is June 13, 2020. 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. 

The ACT test is also offered on July 18, 2020, September 12, 2020, October 24, 2020, and December 12, 2020. 

ACT still plans to roll out its new single-section retesting option this fall, beginning with the September test. You can learn more about this new option, and other new features coming to the ACT this fall, here

Need to study for the ACT, but have no idea where to start? Start with our comprehensive, animated online study course for the ACT. The course is only free until June 1, so don’t procrastinate signing up! 

Learn more and enroll: The Olive Book ACT Study Course

When is the Next SAT Test?

The next SAT test is August 29, 2020. The SAT is also offered on September 26, 2020, October 3, 2020, November 7, 2020, and December 5, 2020.

If you’re on the hunt for SAT study resources, take a look at our free online SAT study course. It’s animated, self-paced, and covers everything you need to know to own the SAT test. As with the ACT course, the SAT course is only free until June 1, so don’t procrastinate signing up! 

Learn more and enroll: The Olive Book’s SAT course

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