Meaghan Rysdale: Does the SAT test matter for college-bound students?

Currently, more than 80% of colleges and universities across the United States and the world are not requiring high school students to take the SAT or ACT. This was mostly due in part due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many schools dropped the requirement because schools and testing centers became closed.

In addition, because most instruction had gone virtual, many questioned whether the quality of online learning was enough to prepare students to do well on these standardized tests.

Unfortunately, because the college admissions process is becoming more competitive as students are applying to more programs to weigh options and costs, some rigorous programs have had to reinstate the SAT or ACT as a requirement again.

For the 2022 cycle, Purdue University had a record breaking number of applicants — 68,309 total for their freshman class, which usually sits somewhere between 9 to 10,000 students. As a result of this tremendous influx of applicants, Purdue University was one of the first to publicly reinstate the SAT/ACT test as a requirement again for the 2023 incoming class, in the hopes of curbing the total number of applicants.

For the 2023-2024 application cycle, Purdue University is the only school in the state of Indiana that requires the SAT or ACT score. While many schools are not requiring the SAT or ACT, they are utilizing it as an “added bonus” for merit based scholarships if a student’s score exceeds the average or meets a certain mark. Additionally, the SAT and ACT exams can be used as a way to boost a students overall academic profile for admission if they score above average and may lack on other areas of their application.

In rule that took effect July 1, 2023, the State of Indiana passed a requirement as part of the Indiana Graduation Pathways initiative that students who are college-bound and choose to take the SAT to meet the state graduation requirement must have their state administered SAT exam scores reported on the student transcript.

As a result, Indiana public school students do not have the choice to select if they would like their application to be evaluated with or without their test scores, as the state administered SAT exam score cannot be removed. This has posed a problem for high school students who are looking to gain admission to a program they do not meet SAT test score requirements for.

With the first major college application deadline for high school seniors approaching on Nov. 1, you may be asking yourself, “If my high school student must take the school administered SAT test and cannot remove their score off their transcript, what can they do?”

For now, the first step would be looking at the college’s or university’s average SAT test score from the previous year to see if your student would meet the requirement for the program of interest. If a student does not meet the guidelines with their SAT test score, they may want to reach out directly to admissions at the college or university they are hoping to apply to before they submit their completed application. When talking to an admissions counselor, they should ask what else they may be able to do if they do not have a strong score as part of their completed application.

Admissions counselors appreciate when students reach out to ask questions and show they are interested in their prospective programs. As a college or university may show interest to a student through marketing materials and emails, they want to see that your student is also showing interest in being a strong candidate if accepted at their school, too.

Indiana students should continue to strive to do their very best on the SAT and/or ACT test while it may result in an easy way to acquire scholarship opportunities.

Meaghan Rysdale is the founder of Hoosier Academic Coaching in Greenwood, which assists high school students with the college admissions process and scholarships. She is an active member of the Higher Educational Consultants Association and Independent Educational Consultants Association and serves on the Government Relations Committee for Indiana National Association College Admissions Counseling. Send comments to [email protected].