Answering your Questions about the ACT and SAT & College Requirements


Rosie Johnson

Senior, Olivia Hampton works on her practice for the ACT this upcoming fall.

Rosie Johnson, Social Media Editor

Are you unsure of where to register for a standardized test? Or, are you wondering if you even need to take a standardized test considering the many schools who have gone test optional? First, registering is easy and can be done online. Second, almost all schools have gone test optional. For the last several years, many schools have decided to not require ACT or SAT scores; instead, they look at applicants from a holistic viewpoint. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, almost all schools have moved to being test optional temporarily and some permanently. 

Ms.Christine Holladay, one of St. Joseph Academy’s amazing college counselor states that they know seniors have endured a lot of uncertainty.

“For those still hoping to have [an ACT] score with which to apply to college, it’s wonderful that it’s being offered at St. Joe. And, over 70% of colleges and universities around the nation have enacted test-optional policies for at least the coming year, which we see as a positive given the increasing evidence that high school GPA is more effective at predicting college success than standardized tests,” Ms. Holladay said.

To continue we asked some students about what they think about the new policies and circumstances surrounding the tests and college admittance.

 Senior  Olivia Hampton said: “Colleges being test optional helped with the stress of taking the ACT”. 

Junior Ellie Johnson agreed. 

“I am happy that I no longer need a test score to submit to schools most likely in the future. But I am glad our school is having one just to be safe. I like the holistic approach much better,” Ellie said.

Here are some common questions regarding ACT/SAT and schools requiring standardized tests. 

1. How do we know what schools are NOT requiring scores?

Fortunately many schools are becoming test optional in the United States due to COVID-19. Most likely, any school that you are considering applying to this year is test optional. This is great for some people, but some universities do still require scores. Thankfully, there is a website that lists all the schools that have gone test optional for this year: However, it is recommended to always check the individual school website just to be sure.

2. When and where can I take the ACT/SAT?

As testing centers start to open up again, registration for these tests are opening up as well. If taking a test interests you or you are looking to improve your current score, registration is open in the St. Louis area. As of right now, St. Joe is going to host an ACT October 20, but you may register anytime to take the ACT or SAT in the St. Louis area on a different date. 

ACT Register Link:

SAT Register Link: 

3. Do you have to take the tests to receive scholarships?

No! There are many ways to receive scholarships. While testing scores are one way to receive scholarships, many scholarships require essays, and some may want to see a video or presentation of your talents. Although, if you are proud of your test score, many colleges allow submissions and may give you a scholarship based on the school. Testing will always be an option, but if tests do not suit you, there are many ways to still exhibit who you are as an individual to the school. 

4. Can you submit your scores even if they aren’t required?

Similar to the question above, yes you can! If your scores fit in with the average scores of the college or are even higher, then you should definitely submit your score. But if the scores remain below the college’s averages, then maybe hold back because you do not want to jeopardize your eligibility based on a non-representative test score. 

5. For the class of 2022, should you take the tests? Will schools still be test-optional?

As of right now, many schools are going test-optional for several years while others just for the class of 2021. Some schools are even permanently going test optional. The best way to uncover this information is by looking at a specific college’s website because every university is different. Taking the test is always an option. Taking the test does not require you to submit it if you dislike your score, but if you do like your score, you still have the opportunity to submit it. 

6. What is the current debate on standardized testing nation-wide?

Currently, it seems that more and more schools are becoming test optional in the United States. This popular trend has risen the past several years, and with COVID-19 this trend has seen an extreme increase. The debate over the requirement of test scores is a big question. Many schools have done away with it because they want to see a holistic view of each student, not just a number on a paper. While that case benefits students who do not test well, is it fair for the students who do? The tests are not disappearing anytime soon, and they are still there for scholarships, especially if the school may be difficult to afford. In conclusion, the tests will stay, but testing isn’t for everyone and colleges are starting to notice that testing is not the only way to admit brilliant students. 

7. Why was standardized testing started in the first place?

The SAT from the College Board was started in the late 1920s and early 1930s, primarily used to give scholarships to Ivy League schools. This was mainly on the Eastern side of the United States. The test grew and became more popular as it started being given to anyone who wanted to take it on a chance of receiving a scholarship. Many colleges partnered with the company to require test scores upon application to the universities. In the 1950s, the ACT was formed as a way to compete with the SAT. Although now, many colleges and universities are doing away with this system. 

8. How can I get help in preparation for the ACT or SAT?

As the academic year progresses, tests will continue to occur, meaning studying needs to be done. If you need help studying, you can acquire free tests online from the College Board and ACT website. If you want a paperback version, you can order from your favorite bookstore or Amazon and practice tests that way. You can also meet with friends, have your family help you, meet with a tutor, or take classes. There is a wide variety of ways to improve your score. 

All in all, testing is not going away definitely, but schools are becoming more aware that testing is not for all students. The best thing to do right now is to prepare just in case and try your hardest to do your best if you do end up taking any of the tests. Just remember, whether you take a test or not, success does not always come from a perfect score on a paper.