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  • Nola Coyne

Should You Submit Your SAT Scores to Colleges?

Pile of SAT Practice Tests / Credits: Sara Weinrod

While the SAT has been a defining part of the high school experience for nearly a century, a strong SAT is no longer an essential element to most college applications. About 80% of schools are test-optional for the fall 2023 admissions cycle — including the vast majority of elite universities. In fact, 19 out of the top 20 universities ranked by U.S. News are test optional. The suspension of the requirement has caused many students to wonder whether they should submit their scores.

This month, many seniors sat for the SAT for their second or third time, and underclassmen took the PSAT in preparation. Despite more schools opting for test-optional policies, most seniors have spent the past year studying and preparing for the SAT in the hopes that their score will strengthen their college applications.

However, a high SAT is no longer a prerequisite for a competitive application. Class of ‘24 counselor Ms. Moore offered insight into what factors students should consider when deciding whether to submit their scores to colleges. “Students might have test anxiety” or may not “have opportunities to take a prep course,” Ms. Moore said, meaning that one test might not accurately reflect their academic abilities. If a student believes a test is not a good reflection of their skills, then they might want to consider applying test-optional.

Another factor students should keep in mind is that the elimination of the standardized testing requirement has inflated colleges’ reported test score range. This range describes the SAT scores that the middle 50 percent of accepted students had, but only the scores of students who submitted them. Ms. Moore explained that, “many of the students submitting have high scores, making the score range skewed.” This means that some SAT score ranges are artificially inflated, and don’t represent the scores that many of the accepted students — who applied test optional — had.

However, Ms. Moore recommended that, if a student’s score does happen to fall into the school’s score range, they should submit their scores, even if they fall on the lower end of the spectrum.

While the SAT is still a very real part of high school and college applications, students now face less pressure to test well because they don’t necessarily have to submit their score. Instead, many schools put more weight on other parts of a students application such as their essays, recommendations, grades, and extracurricular activities.

Many colleges use the metaphor of a pie for student applications. If you remove one piece of the pie (for example, test scores), the admissions officers simply make the other pieces bigger to make up for the missing information. In other words, a lack of a standardized test score on your application makes admissions officers put more consideration into other aspects of the student’s profile. Students should not worry about not submitting scores to a school because there are many other aspects of their application that can make up for a lack of test scores.


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