Standardised Testing Update April 2022

Posted on 13th April 2022

Test Optional: Should I submit SAT/ACT scores? Should I even take a test?

Much has been said about the test-optional movement in the US. We’ve hosted webinars about it, and when we counsel students through their US applications, it is a huge consideration: if colleges don’t require the SAT or ACT, should students take the test at all? And what if they take the test – should they submit the scores?

Standardised testing has never been more confusing, and it’s about to become even more so with the introduction of the Digital SAT in March 2023! So, let’s break it down.

What does test-optional or test-blind mean?

If a college is test-optional, this means that it will consider your scores if you submit them, although you aren’t required to submit them. If a college is test-blind, this means test scores won’t be considered at all, even if you submit them. But if a college is test-optional, that doesn’t mean there is no point in submitting test scores: clearly, if submitted scores are considered, they must have at least some impact on your application! How much depends on a few factors.

Do I have to take the SAT/ACT?

In some cases, absolutely yes. Although most colleges are test-optional (for now), many still require them. For example, Florida State , Georgia State (and Georgia Tech ), and (from next year) MIT . Things are changing rapidly, so there is a chance that by the time you apply, even more colleges will require test scores.

In some cases, a college might require standardised testing if you are applying for scholarships. It may also require a test for placement (where they assess your level for classes when you arrive).

This is not to say that everyone should take standardised tests – we certainly do not advocate for that – but be very careful and seek advice before deciding not to take tests!

Should I submit my scores?

If you’ve taken a test, how do you know if you should submit those scores? This is the most difficult question to answer, because it very much depends. The simplest way to decide is:

  • Would these scores look good to a college?
  • Would these scores match your academic profile

What are ‘good’ scores for a particular college? It depends on what successful students normally submit. Take a look at the freshman profile for a college (eg here ); that will tell you what range of scores admitted students submitted last year (if they submitted at all). Are you in range? And ideally above the median score? If not, think twice before submitting.

What scores match your academic profile? Well, if you are an A* student, or have a 43 prediction on your IB, then colleges would expect your scores to be similarly high! SAT 1500+, or ACT 33+ is probably about right. If not, then you might be distracting the college from your school grades. Consider where your school grades are in comparison to your tests: tests should reinforce or raise your academic profile.

Am I at a disadvantage if I don’t submit a score?

Consider two people who are exactly the same, apart from the fact that one has good test scores, and the other chooses not to submit test scores. If the college considers scores, who do you think will look better?

But we know that no two people are exactly the same, and by doing tests, you might change the rest of your profile by not spending time on things that set you apart. If you are writing essays or putting a portfolio together, doing tests might get in the way of those.

Ideally you would do both, but that isn’t always possible. The easiest way to mitigate this is to start everything early, so you can make the decision early.

What if I’m aiming for a sports scholarship?

Although testing is still optional under NCAA rules, you might find that the college itself sets a testing requirement. It’s a way for them to be sure that you will cope academically, so that they can admit you on the basis of your sport. Getting a test score early can help coaches out: they know it will be easier to get the college to say yes if they want you. And in some cases, higher scores mean more funding.

It is worth speaking to coaches about this, and again, planning early!


  • Go into the US application preparation process early, assuming that you will test
  • Prepare over a long period of time: tests are not only an academic measure, but a measure of how hard you are prepared to work.
  • Submit your scores if they are good, as testing can help show off your academic profile
  • In some case, you will have to submit test scores, and it may help with scholarships
  • Applications are holistic: everything you do matters. So, if testing puts other more important things at risk, don’t do it!
  • Get advice if you’re not sure!
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