If you’re applying to college, you’ve probably heard the terms “test-optional” and “test-blind.” The growing trend of college admissions going test-optional or test-blind has been accelerated by COVID-19 and the increased applications and diversity of incoming students.

According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) – a nonprofit that advocates for the elimination of testing requirements for admissions and scholarships, for Fall 2022 admissions, “80% of schools are ACT/SAT-optional or test-blind for current high school seniors. More than three-fifth of all colleges and universities in the nation have already committed to remaining test-optional or test-blind for fall 2023 applicants.” 

So what does it mean? Should you still prepare for and take the SAT or ACT?

Test-Optional means a college or university does not require the ACT or SAT as part of your application, but will accept the scores as part of your application if you want. Test-optional colleges may also still use ACT or SAT scores during the financial aid review process.

Test-Blind means a college or university does not accept test scores at all during the admissions process. However, test blind universities will often still accept test scores to test into specific levels when you enroll in college.

Financial Aid + Test Scores

Even at test-optional and test-blind universities, test scores can still be used during the financial aid review process. Every college and university will post on their website what factors they use in their scholarship decision process. Some will use SAT and ACT scores, while others will look at different factors. For example, the Indiana University Office of Admissions states that “the assessment of a student’s academic performance is based on a number of factors, including high school GPA, grades received in coursework required by the Office of Admissions, and rigor and performance in advanced courses (AP, IB, Honors, etc.).” 

The grades you earn, the rigor of courses and how you perform in your high school advanced courses, in particular, will be influential in how much academic scholarship money you can earn if test scores are not a factor.To learn more about how the FAFSA plays a role in paying for college, check out our blog on FAFSA FAQ.

Honest Game Insight: Many states still offer the SAT or ACT tests for free to all high school juniors. If you’re going to be taking the test, why not prepare for it? See how you do!

NCAA + NAIA Standardized Test Requirements

For NCAA and NAIA academic eligibility, the rules are different for standardized test scores. Currently, the NCAA has waived test score requirements for student-athletes enrolling full-time for the first time in the 2022 – 2023 school year. The NAIA has not yet waived test scores for 2022 – 2023 enrollees. 

The NCAA will be evaluating if they will keep the SAT/ACT requirement later this year. In the meantime, high school juniors and younger student-athletes should assume that standardized test scores are still a requirement to compete at the NCAA DI and DII levels. 

NCAA DIII programs do not require test scores in order to compete, as DIII does not require students to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. To compete at the NCAA DIII level, your requirements will be solely based on the specific admissions requirements of your college. If you’re admitted, you pass the initial requirements to compete as a freshman. 

Student-athletes often choose NCAA DIII colleges for the academic and athletic level that best fit their needs and aspirations. Read more about competing at the DIII level and why one of the 440 DIII schools might be the right fit for you.

Curious if your standardized test scores will make the cut for college sports? Honest Game’s CARE® provides individualized guidance with your academic eligibility status and a clear outline of the test scores and grades that are needed to be eligible for college sports.

Honest Game Counselors are here to help take the guesswork out of academic eligibility and are available to provide one-on-one assistance to guide student-athletes on their unique academic athletic journey. Sign up here for virtual counseling with an Honest Game expert.

By Joyce Anderson, Honest Game Co-founder and COO
Having served on the NCAA Eligibility Center High School Advisory Board and as the College Bound Student-athlete Advisor at Evanston Township High School, Joyce has advised more than 2,000 high school student-athletes on academic eligibility and recruiting.