Do SAT/ACT Scores Impact A College Application Strategy?

(Part Two of a Three-Part Mini-Series on Standardized Testing for College Admission)
In light of the recent buzz surrounding the college admissions process, how deeply do standardized test scores affect a college application strategy, especially with the wonderful list of schools that are test score optional? My answer is, it depends on the college, the test and the student.

Here’s the second of three aspects to consider when navigating the standardized testing leg of the college application journey:

Try Both Tests

This may sound obvious, but recently, when talking with students and families about testing options, I’m discovering how very few students have been evaluated for each the SAT and ACT. Some went with the test a tutor recommended; some went with the test that their friends are opting for; some went with the test that their parents’ friends said was the best.

While I do agree that there are ample reasons to choose, prep and sit for a particular test, I’m surprised how undiagnostic the answers are for how the decision of which one, SAT or ACT, was initially made. I have a few students this year whose first test-sitting delivered a score that I questioned, either because a PSAT score was higher or because my gut said the fit of the test might be off. When I get this sense that a score could be higher, I always ask if a student already gets extra time and then I ask if the student took a practice ACT to compare with the buzzier PSAT (which qualifies students for National Merit status). I’ve had students get evaluated for extra time as well as get properly evaluated for which test might suit their style of learning best and then ace the test.

Find a test prep tutor who is also seasoned in diagnostics to enable your student to road test each the SAT and ACT in a relaxed setting. See which test feels the best for the student. And of course, consider which test yielded top performance! Even if a student applies to test optional colleges, why shouldn’t they have scores to be proud of instead of embarrassed by? The fit matters.

For more information about College Counseling and Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos and Facebook page.