Test-Optional – Should You Still Take SAT/ACT?

It seems like more and more colleges are going test-optional leaving everyone asking the same question, “To take the test or not to.”

Before we begin let’s understand the meaning of these terms.

What is Test-Optional?

Test-optional is when schools allow students to decide if they want to submit their SAT or ACT scores with their application.  These schools focus on students’ academics, essays, recommendations, and activities but will consider the scores if they have two students with a similar profile. In this case, the student with a higher score may get accepted.

Some of the test-optional colleges are Amherst College, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, and Cornell University.

What is Test Blind?

Test-blind is when schools make it very clear that they will not look at test scores even if submitted and will not consider the scores while reviewing the application. The number of test blind schools increased last year due to COVID 19.

Some of the test blind schools are Caltech, Cal Poly Pomona, University of California. UC announced that for fall 2021 it will not factor in SAT or ACT for the admissions process.

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Test-Optional… Should You Still Take SAT/ACT?

Now that we know the difference between test-optional and test blind the question still remains the same- To take the test or not to.”
Let’s consider some points where it might be helpful to take the test.

1. Financial Aid and Scholarship

SAT and ACT scores are important as they are considered for financial aid and scholarships. Even though some colleges are test optional, but they might consider the scores when giving merit scholarship, so taking the test might be helpful.

2. Colleges might reinstate Standardized Testing

Last year with COVID-19 lot of colleges decided to go test-optional but this might change, and as more and more students/families get the vaccine and schools and colleges begin to opening up, they might reinstate the tests.

3. Standardized Test Scores might help in Admissions

As I said earlier, if you apply to a test-optional school and submit your SAT/ACT test scores, they might look at it and you might have an upper hand over the application who did not submit the test score.

4. All Schools are not Test Optional or Test Blind

One must keep in mind that even though more and more colleges are going test-optional there are plenty more that are not test-optional or test blind. So to be on the safe side I would recommend preparing for SAT or ACT unless you know exactly where you want to apply.

Book a 1-on-1 Consultation Session (30/60 minutes) with Ruchi Saran


The anticipated SAT Administration dates are – August 28 2021, October 2 2021, Nov 6 2021, Dec 4 2021, March 12 2022, May 7 2022, and June 4 2022. As of now one can register for May 8 2021 and June 5 2021. Please check the registration deadline dates on their website.  The ACT test date is June 12 and the one must register by May 7 to avoid late fees.

With so much unknown and things changing rapidly, I would say as long as SAT and ACT tests are being offered and it’s safe to take the test, one must take it. If you do well in your test, it’s worth submitting it and if you don’t for some reason, then you can decide to submit or not.

Parents Tips

It’s easier to prep for the test and gives it rather than worrying about the future and wondering what will happen and if one should or should not take the test.


Featured Image Source: Penn State

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Ruchi Saran
Ruchi Saran is a College Counselor and has a Psychology Degree from LSR, New Delhi India, Associate Degree in Child Education, and a Certificate Degree in College Admissions and Career Planning from UC Berkeley. She has been working with students from India, Middle East, US, and Canada. Her 2 young sons studied Computer Science at UC Berkeley and are her inspiration. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her husband.
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