When it comes to the college admissions process, many dream colleges no longer require the SAT or ACT exams. Naturally, your college-bound teenager may feel inclined to skip these lengthy and stressful tests. However, taking the easy path may not be the best decision in the long run. Allow me to explain why encouraging your teen to take the standardized tests can improve their admissions chances and increase their opportunities for generous financial aid packages.
- Improved Admissions Chances: A great score on the SAT or ACT can enhance your teen’s likelihood of admission, even though most colleges are test optional these days. By submitting a strong test score, your teenager can demonstrate their academic proficiency and stand out among applicants. It’s an opportunity to showcase their abilities and leave a positive impression on admissions officers.
- Increased Financial Aid Opportunities: A strong standardized test score can also increase the chances of receiving a generous financial aid package. Many colleges use test scores as a factor in determining merit-based scholarships and grants. By opting to take the test, your teen opens doors to potential financial benefits that can ease the financial burden of college.
- Minimal Risk: Taking the SAT or ACT carries little risk for your teenager. They have the option to choose which scores they submit to colleges. If they are satisfied with their performance, they can utilize the scores to their advantage. On the other hand, if they are not pleased with the results, they can choose not to submit them. It provides flexibility and allows them to make informed decisions based on their performance.
- Outlier Colleges and Test Blind Policies: While some colleges have adopted “Test Blind” policies, refusing to consider SAT or ACT scores, these institutions are still relatively rare, especially outside of California. It is important to note that the majority of colleges still consider standardized test scores as part of their admissions process. Taking the test ensures your teenager’s options remain open and maximizes their opportunities.
- There are more test dates and locations these days, so you should be able to schedule a test that doesn’t interfere with your family’s busy plans.
Despite the trend towards test-optional admissions, I strongly recommend that your teenager still take the SAT or ACT exams at least twice and – preferably – three times. The potential advantages of a great score, improved admissions chances, and increased financial aid opportunities outweigh the extra effort required for test preparation. By taking the standardized tests, your teen keeps their options open and positions themselves for success in the competitive college admissions landscape.
Fitz has dedicated the entirety of his 28 year career to encouraging higher education opportunities. He worked in the Vanderbilt, Duke Law and St. Lawrence admissions offices prior to serving as an enrollment management consultant for 200+ selective colleges around the country. He created Find The Right College to make trustworthy college counseling more accessible. Fitz is also the father of two teens so he also understands first-hand the challenges associated with a college search.