Should We Invest Time and Money on the SAT or ACT in 2021? | ACADEMIC.EXPERT

Are Colleges Not Requiring the SAT in 2021?

Were you aware that many colleges are not requiring the SAT or ACT for admission determination in 2021? The question then arises, should you invest time and money on these tests this year?

Colleges Waiving SAT & ACT

It’s true. In fact, some schools won’t even consider submitted scores for admission (i.e., no SAT colleges), while some will still consider them as it relates to scholarship consideration (i.e., SAT optional colleges).

The photo above is a snapshot of colleges not requiring the SAT. (Obviously a moving target.)

Are the SAT and ACT tests obsolete in 2021?

Parents are asking questions such as:

  • “Why are tests no longer required?”
  • “Should this non-requirement impact our school choice?”
  • “If the test is not required, nor will be used in the evaluation process, then why bother?”

There have been a number of reasons given for the removal of standardized testing requirements. The two most often given are:

  • Due to Covid, there has been a rash of testing center cancellations, sometimes blocking students from being able to take the test. This is definitely an issue.
  • The following is less certain in terms of causality — it is claimed that test scores are a poor predictor of college performance.

Is the latter really true? What if poor performance on the SAT is not only a function of the SAT test, but underlying issues?

Overall, lack of academic mastery most certainly impacts test performance.

Perhaps even more importantly, students are, and have been, the recipients of grade escalation. (Yet SAT scores are dropping???)

SAT Action Plan | ACADEMIC.EXPERT

SAT & ACT Exam Process is More than Scores

I make the case that, not only are these tests not obsolete, but due to other considerations, the tests may be more important now than ever.

How do you as parents “do” test prep?

Scant attention is paid to the process of studying for the SAT—the focus has always been primarily focused on the scores.

In fact, many incorrectly believe that the study involved for a high-level score is just a “review” of high school principles that have already been mastered.

Today, that is simply not true.

The SAT and ACT exams each have math, reading and grammar sections; the ACT has an additional science section.

The SAT Reading section prep now potentially provides the ability to develop skills that are increasingly not mastered in school—not just reading comprehension, but, perhaps more importantly, tactics for how to read quickly, effectively with comprehension.

Without quality test prep, many students won’t acquire these needed skills.

The same applies to grammar and math skills. Even for students in effective high school programs, I have been able to see and work with students where test prep puts them over the top in this area.


RELATED | My Student is a Poor Test Taker


If the student is motivated and willing to put in the work, individualized SAT tutoring can bear fruit.

Levels of mastery in secondary education have been dropping for years.

Why standards have collapsed.

Grade escalation has also been occurring for years. These factors alone highlight why the process of studying for standardized tests is valuable.

Is grade escalation really an issue?

The essence of test prep is the exposure to content that is framed, oftentimes, in terminology and format that students are not exposed to in a classroom setting.

In many ways, standardized test prep accomplishes some of the same goals, as does AP classes.

In order to succeed, students must learn to think “outside of the box,” both in terms of content acquisition and mastery, as well as simply learning how to learn.

Will the SAT Go Away?

Universities are quite aware that they have to use whatever is available to determine the optimal incoming student class based on their priorities.

I believe that it is very possible that some schools may well moderate this trend of colleges not requiring the SAT.

The process of studying for the SAT and ACT matters. Our students must learn to think outside of the box.

I recommend the official College Board SAT book and highly recommend the online ACT and SAT practice tests.

Education is on a track that I believe will never fundamentally change.

Students are, and will be, required to think outside of the box, teach themselves and adopt the skills necessary to learn on their own.

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About the Author:

Joe has 30+ years' experience as a developer, technical lead and manager of large scale defense, avionics and private sector programs. His work with youth includes six years as a private teacher and tutor focusing on STEM material. He is also a published technical author, conference presenter and technical team trainer.

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