US College Admissions and the SAT/ACT: Q&A From Webinar

In this article we answer some additional questions we weren’t able to cover on our recent webinar, US College Admissions and the SAT/ACT: What Has Changed and What Do You Do Now?

What is happening with AP exams and SAT Subject Tests? Are they worth taking now?

As you may have heard, the College Board has changed the format and structure of all AP exams. These exams will be taken entirely online, will test only the curriculum that students have typically covered by the end of March, and will contain only a couple of questions. At the time of this post, no changes have been made to the format or delivery of SAT Subject Tests and they will occur on the same test dates as SAT exams.

AP exams remain an excellent way for students to earn potential college credit and demonstrate excellence in a particular subject area. No US universities require AP exams. Students who are applying to universities outside of the US will want to check the requirements of the schools they are applying for.

While SAT Subject Tests do not earn college credit, a strong test score will help a student stand out during the admissions decision process.

If your AP exams and/or Subject Tests scores are strong, they can really help you stand out as an admissions candidate by allowing admissions officers to clearly see your academic ability.

We recommend sitting these exams and suggest students take the following into consideration:

  • Have a testing plan that fits your needs and includes SAT/ACT, Subject Tests, and/or AP exams prep. There is no “one size fits all” recommendation, so we strongly suggest that you meet with our consultants to help!
  • Focus on getting your SAT or ACT scores to your desired score ranges before worrying about SAT Subject Tests this year.
  • Many universities will be de-emphasizing SAT Subject Tests in the admissions decision, but they can still be helpful to your application if you have strong scores to submit!
  • The AP exams include all open response questions this year, so it is essential to get feedback from an expert when practicing for this test. We have excellent programs for AP Prep that involve lectures from the College Board coupled with half-hour review sessions with our online tutors.

Do you have a list of colleges that are test optional?

It’s important to remember that schools are making decisions and policy changes about the requirement of ACT/SAT scores daily. The most reliable source for up to date information is to go directly to the school’s website to see their most recent policy on this matter. The website is a the most reliable source for 3rd party information about testing and college admissions. If you’re looking for information to get you started, be sure to check it out, but remember to always double check specific school’s information with the school itself to ensure it is up to date.

Is there a list of colleges that are NOT accepting the SAT/ACT test scores?

We are unaware of any institutions that will not accept SAT or ACT scores. Here are some things to keep in mind about the SAT/ACT and college admissions:

  • Always check directly with the admissions department of the college or university to confirm their test policies.
  • Remember, many scholarships require SAT and ACT scores, even if you will be attending a test optional institution. Also, some test optional schools require test scores for specific majors or programs such as Nursing, Engineering, or Business, so be sure to confirm requirements directly with the school.
  • Be sure to submit your SAT or ACT scores to test optional institutions if they will strengthen your application!

Has the University of California system dropped the SAT/ACT requirement?

For this year only, the UC system has made the SAT/ACT optional.* However, any student who feels that their scores are an accurate reflection of their ability may submit scores for consideration. Our advice:

  • Research last year’s mean SAT or ACT scores for accepted students by searching for “common data set 2018 + name of institution.”
  • If your scores are on par with, or just below, the average scores of last year’s accepted students, then be sure to submit them.
  • If your scores are 100-150 plus points below the mean, this may be your chance to apply to a more competitive school without submitting your scores!

Remember, with pass/fail grading and the vastly diverse course rigor, it will be more difficult for admissions officers to fairly compare students. So, having data points such as SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests,and/ or AP exams scores will help you stand out and demonstrate your academic competency.

*Statement from the University of California System:

Students applying for fall 2021 are not precluded from taking standardized tests (SAT or ACT) and sending scores if they are able. Doing so can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements. Campuses will adjust their internal processes accordingly to ensure that no student is harmed in admissions selection should they not submit a test score. This modification to the test requirement is not intended as an admissions policy shift but is rather a temporary accommodation driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.


I have lost my job. How can I address financial aid?

If you are the parent of a graduating senior, we urge you to reach out to your financial aid office to discuss your change in circumstances. It may be difficult to reach office staff by phone, so communication via email and/or social media may be most effective. When speaking with the financial aid office, be sure to inquire about the financial aid appeal process.

Make sure you find out each institution’s preferred method of submission, then submit the following to each of the schools your child is considering:

  • Completed copies of any forms the school requires
  • An appeal letter summarizing the changes that have occurred since your original submission and your new special circumstances. Focus on issues that are beyond your control, such as job loss.
  • Collect and send along documentation such as layoff notifications, bank statements, and letters from former employers

When should a scholar athlete take the SAT/ACT if they are going to take one or two years to play juniors before playing college hockey?

In this situation we would advise you to have your student take the SAT or ACT during junior year (and in some cases even the summer before junior year) as most students do.

Here’s why:

  • The student’s knowledge of high school level mathematics will never be fresher in their mind! Taking SATs and ACTs for the first time later will require lots more brushing up.
  • Even if the student is playing in juniors, most college coaches will want to see baseline SAT or ACT scores to evaluate the student’s future recruitability.

A few more tips:

  • We strongly recommend that your child enroll in at least two online/on campus college courses at the community college or elsewhere while participating in juniors. There are lots of nuances about whether college credits will transfer, but if you select courses carefully this will help your child chip away at credits and keep their mind sharp during their juniors years.
  • Your child can take SATs or ACTs again during their juniors program if they need or want to improve their scores.

Could you please address the ease of getting a K1 visa with all the issues this year.

Federal policies on travel and visas are changing rapidly and are dependent on a variety of factors, including special circumstances, country of origin, etc. As far as we know at this time, all visa issuance has been temporarily suspended. We would advise you to consult with an immigration specialist and follow the updates provided on the federal government site.


College Board

Check this site often for the latest updates on SAT, AP, and SAT Subject Test updates.

International Baccalaureate

This site contains the latest information about changes to IB programs and exams.


The most reliable 3rd party source for information about testing policies and changes. See the current list of SAT and ACT optional schools here, but be sure to confirm the information directly with the school.

National Association for College Admissions Counseling

NACAC’s online search tool allows you to easily search by college for virtual open houses and tours, changes to college admissions events, and more.