The California State University (CSU) has eliminated the SAT/ACT as a factor in admissions. Students can still submit a test score after being admitted for course placement.
The University of California (UC) schools are test blind – meaning they will not use the SAT or ACT as a factor in admissions.
The SAT is one of the oldest and best known college admissions tests. Created by the College Board, the SAT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The goal is to provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. There are two SAT sections: Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Start to finish, the test will take you three hours.
The ACT is accepted equally by colleges as an alternative to the SAT exam. It is a three-hour multiple-choice test that measures skills in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning, as well as an optional 40-minute writing test. Some schools may require the writing test, so be sure to ask before you take it. Each section is scored from 1 to 36.
Students should never take the official test for practice purposes. Given that several highly selective colleges require students to submit all test scores, it is not in any student’s best interest to take the test prematurely.
If a student is taking the SAT, we recommend they take their first formal sitting in March of the junior year. That leaves multiple future dates for the student to take the SAT Subject Tests (if needed). Keep in mind, too, that students tend to do better on standardized testing the more mature they are. By March of a student’s junior year, they are usually at a place in both their mathematics and English courses to do well on the test.
For students who prefer the ACT, typically February or April of the junior year is a good time to try the official test.
Athletes hoping to be recruited should plan on taking the SAT in December or March or ACT in February.
Should I take test prep and when?
Wait until the results of the PSAT come out. We realize this will take some patience, both for the student and the parents of that student. After receiving the results, the student can determine which area(s) need some attention. At this point, students might choose to enroll in a test prep course. If a student does, remember what was mentioned earlier regarding timing of the first sitting of the SAT. Essentially, the student has three months to prepare for the SAT after receiving the PSAT results. We believe that provides students plenty of time to prepare for the test. Many students benefit from taking timed tests on their own. Not every student needs to take a test prep course.
Khan Academy (SAT Preparation Available): For the first time ever, the creators of the SAT have given Khan Academy exclusive access and advice to build a personalized practice program for anyone, anywhere. These tools are free and available for every student to take ownership of their learning and their future. Access Khan Academy Here ACT Academy (ACT Preparation Available): ACT® Academy™ provides prep based on results from the PreACT and ACT test with free video lessons, interactive practice questions, full-length practice tests, and games, based on your academic needs. Start using ACT Academy now!
There is a growing list of schools that offer test optional, or test flexible, admission. Note that the University of California (UC) schools are test blind – meaning they will not use the SAT or ACT as a factor in admissions. Many schools will provide advice on when it’s beneficial to apply as test optional. If you think that your grades and course rigor are strong, and your scores fall much below average, it may be a better idea to apply under the test optional plan. Test Optional admissions puts all of the academic emphasis on your transcript - the courses you took, your course rigor, the grades you earned, and your grade trend. It is not just about the GPA. The remainder of your decision will be based upon the information you provide in the activities list, awards list, essays, etc. and your letters of recommendation.
FAIRTEST.ORG - this site maintains a current listing of schools with test optional policies
You should always check the school web site for official information and to see if there are details you need to know that are specific to that school (e.g. it doesn't apply to Nursing majors, etc.)
reporting test scores to colleges
STUDENTS are always responsible for reporting their test scores to colleges. SVHS never reports your SAT/ACT/Subject Test/AP scores.
An increasing number of schools accept self reported SAT/ACT/Subject Test scores. This means that you include this information on the application itself, and possibly also in the SRAR. For these schools, you do NOT need to pay to send your scores from the College Board or ACT (so don't! - you then also don't have to stress about whether they were received!) Other schools DO require official score reports. You can send four free SAT or ACT score reports to colleges every time you register for the test. If you're sending scores after you get the test results, there's a fee (usually around $13 per test, per school).