Are you a student looking for in-person or online tutoring? Find a tutor today!

How do changes to SAT and ACT requirements affect me?

With the shift away from the SAT and ACT, class rank and GPA are primed to become even more important for college admissions and scholarship decisions. 

The last few months are proof that some of the most pressing questions are not multiple choice and cannot be easily answered by filling in a bubble under A, B, C, or D. For many students, those questions involve education. What will senior year look like? How have college admissions changed? Is the SAT or ACT still required? Can I even get an SAT test date?

Are you working toward a merit scholarship at the  U of A?

The University of Arizona recently shared new selection criteria for the Fall 2021 merit tuition awards, and there are some surprises. In past years, the merit-based scholarships were awarded solely off SAT scores, but now, high school GPA is the determining factor. The Resident Wildcat Award will use a tiered approach based on unweighted, core-GPA. Students working toward this merit scholarship may now be prioritizing subject-specific tutoring to boost GPA rather than SAT prep tutoring.

What about admission to college?

A growing number of colleges and universities are re-evaluating their use of the SAT and ACT for Fall 2021 admissions thanks to the summer debacle of cancelled test dates and the risks posed by the testing environment during a pandemic. A list maintained by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing notes over 1,600 schools that have adopted test-optional policies for the 2021-2022 admission cycle, including the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College; however, depending on the school, you may still need to meet certain GPA or class rank requirements if you are not submitting scores.

  • Seniors: Check the list above, but also refer to the individual school websites.
  • Juniors: You may need the SAT or ACT since it is unknown if changes are temporary or not. Consider that if colleges keep the changes, then GPA may take on greater significance for college admissions.

Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, over 1,000 colleges and universities no longer required SAT or ACT scores. Some schools may be wary of biases related to income and race/ethnicity that affect test scores, or they may question how well the tests predict success in college. Researchers from the University of Chicago published an article in January demonstrating that GPA was a stronger predictor of college graduation than ACT scores.

What other aspects of my application should I focus energy on this year?

Now that the SAT and ACT are optional for many schools, other criteria will likely be even more essential for informing decisions of admissions counselors.

Based on research conducted by University of Chicago researchers, high school GPA is a stronger predictor of college graduation than ACT scores.

  • High school GPA and class rank are more important than ever. With all the changes to learning this year, it is important to seek help sooner rather than later if your grade is slipping. So, what can you do?
    • Study regularly
    • Reach out to the teacher for extra help with content
    • Get help from a private tutor for these reasons
    • Form a study group
  • If your GPA is below a certain cutoff, you may be required to send SAT or ACT scores for Fall 2021.
  • You may still opt to submit test scores in case it gives your application an edge.

Are the SAT and ACT on their way out?

Despite all the recent changes in test requirements, there are several reasons why standardized tests are not yet gone for good. The National Merit® Scholarship Competition still requires the PSAT/NMSQT as a qualifying exam, and other scholarship committees may likewise consider test scores. Also, some schools use the ACT or SAT (including subject tests) to determine placement for classes, even if it is not required for admission.

Although the pandemic has altered schools’ plans for the immediate future, universities may reinstate the requirements in future years. It will be enlightening to see what story the data tells about college admissions as the SAT and ACT are de-emphasized, and whether these changes will stick around in the long term.

Related Posts