What ‘Test Optional’ Really Means: A Guide To Taking The ACT Or The SAT

What ‘Test Optional’ Really Means: A Guide To Taking The ACT Or The SAT

  • August 25th
  • 3 years ago
  • ACT, SAT

One of the biggest things to happen to the academic world this last year was the announcement by many prominent universities to make submission of an ACT or SAT score optional. For many students and parents, this made the admissions process a bit confusing. What does ‘test-optional mean, and would this help or hurt a student’s admission chances? Let’s examine the changing landscape and break down what the testing part of the admissions process may look like for the next few years. 

ACT versus SAT: Which is better? 

Although often spoken of interchangeably, the ACT and the SAT are substantially different exams. Very often, students find they do better on one exam than the other. Students and parents must learn about the differences between the exams to prepare for taking the test more efficiently. The SAT has two central portions: vocabulary and mathematics. It is three hours long, and there is one portion of the math test that students must do without a calculator. The ACT offers vocabulary and mathematics sections and a science section designed to test the student’s critical thinking skills. Students may use a calculator in all the mathematics sections and can also choose to submit an optional essay.

Are the tests still relevant? 

Many universities decided to suspend requiring an ACT or SAT score from incoming students this past year and for the next several years. Some schools plan to reinstate requiring the test in 2024, and others may continue their test-optional policy. Many students wondered if they should even prep for a test that schools no longer required. There is a case for encouraging students to continue to prepare for either the ACT or the SAT, and here’s why: 

  • Many states still require high school students to take the SATs or ACTs as a benchmark for graduation. 
  • In the admissions process, standing out is critical. If other incoming students have not taken one of the tests, but your student has, that could be a deciding factor. 
  • Test scores are currently trending lower. Students who participate in test prep are likely to score higher than their peers. 

Test prep is a gift that keeps giving 

Parents and students often invest in test prep hoping to learn skills for the SAT or ACT but come away with actionable skills that prepare the student for more effective studying and more confident test-taking well into college. Groza Learning Center offers an award-winning Test Preparation service that goes well beyond the goal of a higher exam score. The right test prep should guide students to develop healthy time-management skills as they set and achieve goals. Groza’s Test Prep coaches students to stock their test-taking toolbox with practical study skills, more efficient executive functioning, and the ability to self-focus.

A robust test prep course like that offered by Groza Learning Center is an investment in the student that goes well beyond the ACT or SAT. Students master skills that can apply in other areas, such as AP exams. These skills also lead to greater success in college and well beyond. To learn more about how Groza Academy’s Test Prep can help build confidence and vital skills, schedule a consultation to discuss your individual needs.