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SAT / ACT Test Scores. Are they still required?

College Students in Class

SAT / ACT Test Scores. Are they still required? 2024 College Eligibility Requirements and Options

In the past, first-year players who wanted to practice, compete, and receive athletic financial aid at most four-year colleges had to earn a minimum SAT or ACT score. The athletes’ high school GPA would determine the qualifying test score — the higher a student’s GPA, the lower their required test score would need to be.

However, as COVID-19 struck the world, many colleges waived the testing requirement. Many places where students usually take the SAT or ACT had shut down, limiting students’ access to the exams.

As of now, over 1,900 U.S. colleges and universities have chosen not to require SAT or ACT scores for admissions for fall 2024. This is in line with a larger trend, as more than 80% of four-year colleges are making selection decisions without relying on ACT/SAT results.

In fact, the NCAA has permanently removed the requirement for first-year Division I and II athletes to earn a qualifying SAT or ACT score.

While the NCAA isn't making the SAT or ACT mandatory, some colleges continue to expect to see these scores for admission and scholarships, and some top-ranked colleges and universities still require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Moreover, some schools have adopted a "test-optional" policy, which means they do not require you to submit ACT or SAT test scores to be admitted but may still offer academic scholarships based on test scores.

Please note that this information is current as of 2024 and may change in the future. Prospective student-athletes are strongly advised to check directly with specific institutions and scholarship programs for the most accurate and up-to-date requirements.

You may still submit your SAT or ACT scores to colleges that have a test-optional policy.

Here are some scenarios when you might consider submitting your scores:

You’re Applying to Highly Selective Schools:

If you are considering applying to a test-optional college with a low acceptance rate (less than 30%) that is highly selective, and your SAT/ACT scores fall within the middle 50% ranges (or higher) of the schools you are applying to, it is advisable to submit your scores. This will increase your chances of being admitted to these colleges.

They’re Required for Merit-Based Aid:

It is important to note that even though some universities and colleges have waived the requirement for standardized test scores for admission, they might still require them for merit-based scholarships. To avoid missing out on such opportunities, it is highly recommended that you directly contact each school and inquire about their scholarship requirements. Remember, submitting your test scores can significantly increase your chances of being considered for a scholarship.

You Fall in or Above the Middle 50%:

Many colleges provide SAT/ACT score percentiles for admitted and enrolled students. If your scores fall within the middle 50%, submit them.

The Rest of Your Application Is Less Impressive:

If you think that some parts of your college application are not strong enough, such as your personal essays, you might want to consider submitting your SAT/ACT scores if they fall within the middle 50% range of the school - even if they are on the lower side.

However, if you believe that your scores are not up to par or they do not accurately reflect your academic abilities, you should omit them. Remember that the decision to submit your scores ultimately depends on you, and you should take into account your individual circumstances and the specific requirements of the colleges you are applying to.

A “good” SAT score can vary depending on the colleges you’re interested in and your personal goals. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Above Average: Any SAT score above the 50th percentile, or median, can be considered a decent score since this means you’ve performed better than the majority of test-takers.

  • Good: A good SAT score is generally considered to be 1210 or higher, which would put you in the top 25% of all test-takers.

  • Very Good: Scoring in the 75th percentile, or 1200 or higher, is typically considered very good.

  • Excellent: A score of 1350 would put you in the top 10% of test-takers and help make your application competitive at more selective schools.

  • Perfect: A “perfect” score on the SAT is the maximum score of 1600.

Your SAT score, which ranges from 400 to 1600, is the sum of your two section scores: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). Each section uses a scale of 200-800 in 10-point increments.

A “good” ACT score can vary depending on the colleges and universities you are considering. Here are some general guidelines:

  • The highest possible score on the ACT is 36.

  • The current average ACT score is 19.5.

  • A score of 23 on the ACT is above the current national average and will make you a strong applicant at many universities. However, it may fall below the average score for accepted students at more selective colleges. For instance, selective Ivy League colleges typically have ACT Composite scores ranging from 33 to 36.

  • Scores below a 15 on the ACT are considered low at just about any four-year college.

Remember, a good ACT score is one that puts you within the average range of scores for the colleges of your choice. It’s always a good idea to check out the ACT score ranges for the schools on your wish list and see how your scores compare.

The ACT and SAT are both standardized tests used for college admissions in the United States, but they do have some differences:

Test Structure:

The ACT includes sections on English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning, with an optional essay.

The SAT includes sections on Reading, Writing & Language, and Math, with no science section. Some math questions on the SAT don’t allow you to use a calculator.


The SAT is scored on a scale of 400–1600.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1–36.

Content and Style.

The SAT relies more on evidence and content-based questions and multi-step problem-solving.

The ACT tests students on their understanding of their high school curriculum.

Choosing Between ACT and SAT:

Both exams are widely accepted by U.S. colleges.

Neither the SAT nor the ACT is harder than the other.

Different students tend to do better on one test over the other.

It’s recommended to take a timed, full-length practice test of each type to decide which test is a better fit.

Remember, colleges do not prefer one test over the other. It’s always a good idea to check out the average scores for the schools on your wish list and see how your scores compare.

The duration of the ACT and SAT tests are as follows:


The ACT is 3 hours long (technically 2 hours and 55 minutes). Including breaks, the exam takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete.

If you sign up for the optional essay (the ACT Plus Writing), the test clocks in at 3 hours and 40 minutes or just over 4 hours with breaks.


The total time for the SAT is 3 hours, not including breaks.

If you choose to sign up for the optional essay, the SAT takes 3 hours and 50 minutes to complete (or 4 hours and 5 minutes with breaks).

These durations include the time for reading instructions and breaks. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the structure and timing of the test before the test day.

The number of questions in each section of the ACT and SAT tests are as follows:


English: 75 multiple-choice questions

Math: 60 multiple-choice questions

Reading: 40 multiple-choice questions

Science: 40 multiple-choice questions

Writing (Optional): 1 free-response essay


Reading: 52 multiple-choice questions

Writing & Language: 44 multiple-choice questions

Math: 58 multiple-choice questions (broken up into a 20-question No-Calculator section and a 38-question Calculator-allowed section)







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