Should my child take the SAT or ACT even if schools are test-optional?

Matt Larriva
Sep 08, 2020
Home » Blog » Should my child take the SAT or ACT even if schools are test-optional?

There has been no shortage of policy changes regarding the SAT and ACT tests recently. Parents and students alike have a lot of questions. A few we hear a lot are:

Does my child have to do sats and if so, when should my child take the sat or act?

“Should my child take the SAT or ACT even if some schools are going test optional?”

“What if I didn’t take the SAT or ACT?”

and…

If colleges no longer accept SAT scores, how do I ensure my child gets in?

Yikes.

There are a lot of very emotional and incorrect answers to this question, so I’ll try to provide some objectivity here.

Nearly All Colleges Still Accept SAT Scores

First, the premise of this question that colleges no longer accept SAT scores is wrong.

Almost all colleges still accept SAT scores. You might be conflating a couple of stories that reported on no SAT colleges:

  1. about how the UC system chose to go test-optional until replacing the SAT/ACT with their own test
  2. about how a judge ruled that the UC system would have to stop looking at SAT and ACT scores (for the moment) because disabled students didn’t have access to the tests during COVID.

Get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator.

A Recap of UC’s SAT/ACT Testing Policy Changes

On May 21, 2020, the Regents of the University of California voted to phase out the SAT and ACT tests over five years.

The schools will endeavor to create their own admissions test, designed to eliminate the socioeconomic bias latent in the SAT and the ACT. 2022 will be the last year the schools would accept the SAT or ACT as part of an in-state student’s application.

If you plan on applying to a UC school, read our guide, UC Admissions Requirements & How To Make Your UC Application Stand Out.

  • the latest UC admissions requirements
  • UC application deadlines
  • how to answer UC personal insight questions

The tests, however, would continue to be used for out-of-state students, scholarship qualifications, and for application to certain areas of study–likely STEM fields.

See the graphic below for a detailed explanation, by year.

why Should my child take the SAT or ACT even if some schools are going test optional?

UC Goes SAT Test Blind

Then, on September 1, 2020, a judge ordered the UC system to stop considering SAT and ACT scores for admissions and scholarships.

So, now the school may have to become test-blind. The UC system will likely appeal the decision, and another update will come after the case hearing on the 29th.

How Will Schools Judge Applicants?

Now, to your question about how will the schools judge applicants and whether or another variation we hear is “Should my child take the sat or act even if the school says they won’t see it?

This will be a conundrum, and I wrote an OpEd in the LA Times about this (Tap the image to read the full article.):

What you’ll hear people say is, “well, the schools will just have to use grades and extracurriculars and recommendations! Those are less biased anyway!”

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Well, let me give you an example…

  • Student A is from a wealthy background and goes to a private high school where he has a 4.0 GPA.
  • Student B is from a low-income background and goes to a public high school where he has a 4.0GPA.
  • Student C is home-schooled and has a 4.0GPA.
  • Student D is an international student and has a 4.0GPA.

Which one has the best grades? How do you compare an international GPA to a private high school GPA (where the student had access to a much harder curriculum via APs and IB coursework) to a low-income public school GPA (where classes were crowded and advanced curriculum was not offered) to a home-schooled GPA (where, how many Bs do you think his mom gave out?).

There really isn’t a good answer…

Proponents say, “Well you compare their extracurricular activities!”

Sure…but what kind of extracurricular activities do you think wealthy student A had access to versus Student B? You think that will be a level playing field?

“Okay then…compare their recommendation letters!”

Right….how objective will student C’s teachers be?

Parents: How To Get My Child’s SAT scores

Wondering how to get your child’s SAT scores? SAT scores can be acquired from the College Board website about 13 days after taking the test. Read 2022 SAT Test Dates & When To Expect Your SAT Score – Your SAT Test FAQ to learn everything you need to know about you or your child’s SAT scores.

Last year, UCLA had over 108,000 applicants for 15,000 spots. Most of them had GPAs above 4.0. What now?

So there’s no good answer to your question.

The UC system itself doesn’t even know what to use in lieu of standardized test scores. Stay tuned.

Will you get accepted?

Find out how likely you are to get accepted based on your GPA, test scores, and even extracurricular activities. Then, get custom recommendations for how to improve your odds – completely for free on CollegeVine.

Will you get accepted?

Find out how likely you are to get accepted based on your GPA, test scores, and even extracurricular activities. Then, get custom recommendations for how to improve your odds – completely for free on CollegeVine.