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  • Writer's pictureAllison Styffe

Juniors: to take the SAT/ACT or not — that is the question

At least, it's one of the questions we're getting most often from the class of 2022. And it's an important one to ask in light of the past year, with entrance exams cancelled and many schools shifting to a temporary test-optional admissions stance. Our simple answer is this:

Yes, we recommend juniors register to take the SAT or ACT this spring.

If you read that and thought, "but..." know that we hear you. The entrance exam process and its weight in your college applications are not as simple or straight forward as they once were. So we'll break down those possible "buts" and why it is we're suggesting you take one of these tests.

But...will the test even be available?

There are currently five opportunities to take an entrance exam between now and June. You can click here to see a list of national test dates for the SAT and ACT; for more specific information about testing centers and available dates in your area, click here for the SAT and click here for the ACT.

It's true that some tests have been cancelled throughout the past year due to Covid numbers and testing sites unable to accommodate safe social distancing measures. However, this is not a reason not to register in the first place.

We miss 100% of the chances we don't take, after all, so we encourage you to take a chance — sign up and study as if you WILL be able to take the test. Maybe it's cancelled, and you get your money back, and you try to take it at a later date. But what if it isn't cancelled? Your ability to take a test, especially if you score well, could very well give your college applications a worthwhile boost!

But...will colleges even look at my scores?

This depends on the colleges you're applying to and their temporary entrance exam policies. Those policies vary from test required, test optional, test blind, to test flexible. Click here to get some insight what each of those mean.

Whether schools require scores or not, after testing opportunities open up again, many of the more selective colleges may expect – and will receive – scores from many applicants. Unless the school is test blind, they will look at your SAT/ACT scores if you send them in, and if that score is at or above their average admittance test score, it will look good in the eyes of the admissions counselors.

If you're not certain of where all you'll be applying in the fall, it would be wise to take an entrance exam in order to be prepared for all possible scenarios. If you do know where you'll be applying, contact their admissions offices to ask if they have a policy in place for their next admissions cycle.

Most colleges are still working through this year's seniors, with lots of applications to look at and admissions decisions to make. This means that many schools haven't had the time or resources to determine their testing requirements for the class of 2022. So, this is why we are suggesting all juniors go ahead, if possible, with the SAT or ACT.

But shouldn't I focus on my grades and extracurriculars instead?

While it makes sense to prioritize your grades and extracurriculars, focusing on these application elements is not necessarily an excuse to forgo an entrance exam. Yes, what you do in the classroom and in your free time will remain extremely important to colleges who

consider you. But having a solid admissions test score will be the shining cherry on top of an already impressive application, or may be just the thing to make them take a second look at an otherwise ordinary application. Either way, our answer remains the same: take an entrance exam if you can!

But what if taking the SAT or ACT feels too intimating right now?

Life in the Covid era is affecting each person and their circumstances in different ways. If it truly feels unmanageable to take an entrance exam, we understand, and so will many colleges next year. We also are here to help you navigate any hurdles you may feel are in your way.

If you're having trouble deciding whether you take the SAT or ACT, we recommend starting with these resources available through The Princeton Review in order to help you make the choice with confidence.

If you're not sure how to prepare and in need of some free, virtual study aids, check out our blog post Preparing for the SAT & ACT.

If you're unable to pay the registration fees, contact Stormy Shannon about a test fee waiver: (541) 524-3549 or

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