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Colleges Are No Longer Requiring SAT or ACT Scores: What This Means For You

act college examination sat Sep 24, 2022

At one time, the SAT and ACT served as a rite of passage, and it was known that students needed to excel on these exams if they wanted to get into any of the best schools. Considered an excellent leveling analysis, the Scholastic Aptitude Test and American College Testing exams served as great leveling agents.

For decades, college admissions officers considered these test scores the objective bottom line in deciding on admitting college hopefuls based on penciled-in circles. But unfortunately, these exams couldn’t provide insight into which aspirants were test-phobic or endured the chaotic environment often present in inner-city testing environments.

A report provided by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing stated that over 1,000 schools in the United States offering Bachelor’s degree programs no longer require admissions students to submit their ACT or SAT scores with their applications as of the fall of 2021.

The list of colleges dropping ACT/SAT requirements or applying optional status to SAT/ACT submission as a requirement of the college admissions process is growing. However, many of the most competitive colleges are still gathering data and attempting to observe how this experiment turns out.

This uncertainty means many college hopefuls aren’t exactly off the hook regarding their standardized testing scores. However, a college admissions counselor can help make the difference between a hopeful applicant receiving an admission or rejection letter from their top universities.

What is the Difference Between the ACT and SAT?

For many, there’s a simple question that needs to be answered: what is the difference between ACT and SAT tests? While these tests are similar, there are some significant differences between them.

The ACT Examination

The ACT is an exam made up of four sections and consists of:

  • 215 questions
  • A total length of two hours and 55 minutes
  • Composite scoring ranges from 1-36
  • Writing scores of 2-12
  • English (45 minutes)
  • Math (60 minutes)
  • Reading (35 minutes)
  • Science (35 minutes)
  • Writing (optional)

ACT questions are typically traditional examination questions, while SAT questions remain more conceptual.

The math section of the ACT exam requires a comprehensive understanding of various math concepts and formula memorization. In addition, the ACT typically emphasizes geometry more than the SAT exam and encompasses 25% of the test taker’s composite score.

The ACT’s incorporation of science concepts notes a big differentiator between the two tests, as the SAT exam does not include science.

The reading section in the ACT is 35 minutes compared to the SAT’s 65-minute duration, and the average time per passage on the ACT is 9 minutes versus the SAT’s 13 minutes. Passages on the ACT exam follow a standardized subject/topic formula.

The SAT Examination

The SAT examination is made up of four sections consisting of:

  • 154 total questions
  • A total length of three hours
  • Composite scores range from 400-1600
  • Essay scores reported in 3 dimensions of 2-8 each
    • Two different individuals read and score the essay
    • 1-4 points are rewarded for each dimension: reading, analysis, writing

The SAT math section requires a more profound comprehension of algebra than the ACT. However, the SAT provides basic formulas. Calculators are allowed in the second half of the math section, but not all questions are multiple-choice. The examination includes two math sections and consists of 50% of the total score.

SAT reading sections commonly include more complex reading passages than the ACT. The exam asks “best-evidence” questions with selected passages that include visual aids like graphs or charts. The reading section is longer than the ACT, but test-takers have more time per passage than on the ACT exam.

Why Are Schools Dropping ACT/SAT Requirements?

Over the past decade, it has become more evident to universities that stress and pressure play a significant role in how well a potential applicant performs on standardized testing. Unfortunately, these outside factors also mean that test scores may not be accurate or intuitive to tell how well a student might do once enrolled at a university. For this reason, many colleges are now deciding to make supplying these formerly necessary test scores now optional.

The decision to skip the ACT or SAT is entirely up to students and their parents. However, it’s crucial to remember that while some schools no longer require the test, many still do. Therefore, an applicant’s safest path to success is consulting with a college admission counselor before signing up for the SAT or ACT to try and get the best score possible.

Some students who understand they aren’t the best test-takers may opt to skip sending their scores to the schools that don’t require them as a strategy to make their application appear firmer. Nonetheless, this will only work in their favor when they can present a good GPA and a well-rounded, compelling application.

Improve Admission Odds with College Consulting Services

With a shift in the standardized testing atmosphere and a growing number of schools to choose from, finding the right school to apply to and precisely how an applicant should apply can prove challenging.
Keeping up with the college admission process while gauging the possibility of acceptance is a daunting experience for students and their parents. However, with a college admission counselor offering specialized college consulting services, students and their families benefit from a professional that can significantly impact their prospects. Not only can you get answers to questions like “what is the difference between ACT and SAT?”, when working with a college consulting service you can also get guidance on subjects like which test might be best for the schools you’re interested in.

Competition to get into colleges continues to grow, and uncertainty regarding whether or not to take the exams as the list of colleges dropping act/sat requirements grows only complicates the admissions process.

Students typically have access to guidance counselors, and these resources greatly help. But unfortunately, these professionals often have too much on their plate with too many students to help properly. In addition, a school counselor can't provide the personal and focused feedback students need to succeed in college applications and admissions.

Clark College Consulting offers real-world, expert knowledge for all students and their parents, aiming to eliminate unnecessary stress and maximize your chances for success. In addition, working with a college admission counselor can help applicants successfully navigate the often complicated procedures when preparing and applying to colleges.

Hiring a specialist for college consulting services like Clark College Consulting is a worthwhile investment into a student’s future. Curious about how a college admission consultant can be beneficial for the future of your education? Contact Clark College Consulting today for more information on a tailored college career path.

Photo by Kampus Production


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