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Articles / Preparing for College / Should I Take The ACT If I’m Applying to Test-Optional Schools?

Should I Take The ACT If I’m Applying to Test-Optional Schools?

Written by ACT | June 21, 2022
Should I Take The ACT If I’m Applying to Test-Optional Schools?
Photo by javier trueba on Unsplash

Taking a standardized test is no easy task, in fact, sitting in a classroom for multiple hours can be quite daunting. However, there are many benefits that can arise as a result of taking the ACT. Before making your decision, you should consider asking the test-optional college the following questions:

  1. How much weight is given to specific components of my application [i.e. GPA, test scores (if submitted), course load and rigor of courses taken, letters of recommendation, personal statements/essays, high school profile, portfolios, extracurricular activities, work experience, resume, etc.]?
  2. How are scholarships awarded? Is the process different for students who submit test scores and those who do not submit test scores?
  3. Without test scores, how do I place into appropriate levels of math, English, world languages, etc.?
  4. What is your acceptance rate of students who submit test scores compared to non-submitters?
  5. Is demonstrated interest considered in the admission process? How can I best demonstrate my interest in your school?

Why should I submit a score?

It is important to consider that the majority of students who apply to test optional schools still submit test scores with their application. While you are more than a score, submitting a test can strengthen your application by providing an additional indicator of your abilities and achievements. That said, the choice is not black and white. If you do not believe your scores are an accurate reflection of your abilities, don’t submit them. Remember, test optional policies are not consistent across schools. Researching individual admission requirements and talking to colleges about how they use test scores is key in determining whether to submit scores.

With each piece of information – GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, test scores, awards – you are giving colleges a complete picture of who you are.

What are the benefits of taking The ACT?

  • Class placement: Colleges use ACT scores to place you in the right classes at the right level – saving time and money!
  • Get more scholarships: An ACT score can increase your chances of earning new or better scholarships. In fact, one counselor found that over 10 years, more of her students earned more scholarship dollars with ACT scores than SAT scores.
  • Qualify for specific programs: Even if a school has a test optional admissions policy, specific programs like nursing and engineering will often require an ACT score to make sure you are ready for the material.
  • Secure your admission: For many schools, a sufficient ACT score will solidify automatic admission and/or the amount of your scholarship offer. You’ll need to check with the specific colleges on your list.

Can test scores affect my merit aid at test optional schools?

Students with an ACT test score qualify for more scholarships. Even test-optional colleges often require a test score when awarding merit-based scholarships. Without an ACT score, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars in scholarship money.

Want more information?

Check out Bryan Contreras, Vice President of myOptions, discuss several student case studies that illustrate the ways colleges use ACT scores and four of the most important factors that should be considered prior to applying to college.

Webinar: What Does “Test Optional” Really Mean for Students?

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