Do I Need to Take the SAT for College?

July 22, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Do I Need to Take the SAT for College?

The answer to the question “Do I need to take the SAT for college?” is… it depends. There are other things to think about in addition to determining whether or not your target schools require tests.

For instance, in order to graduate from some high schools, you must take the SAT.

Additionally, you might need to take the SAT even if your school does not require it if you want to be eligible for certain scholarships or degree programs. In other words, just because you’re applying to a school that doesn’t require standardized testing doesn’t mean you can forgo taking the SAT.

Taking an exam using a pen.

Similar to when you graduate from high school, there are some circumstances where you might need to take the SAT to get into college.

Two of them are covered below:

#1: Standardized test scores are required for university applications.

It should come as no surprise that some universities will insist that you submit your standardized test results.

These test results are often used by universities to assess whether or not you possess the fundamental competencies required for success there. However, the truth is that higher SAT scores tend to increase your chances of admission, even though it is acceptable for you to apply to universities with a lower SAT score. (This is especially true at highly selective universities like those in the Ivy League.)

Universities now accept either the ACT or SAT to satisfy the prerequisite standardized test. Additionally, admissions officers do not favor one test over another. Therefore, even though you might be required to take a standardized test, you still have some leeway to choose whether the SAT is the best test for you.

#2: SAT scores are required by your department.

The department where your major is offered might require test scores even if your university doesn’t.

This is especially true if you want to major in one of the most esteemed or competitive programs at your university. Programs in business, computer science, engineering, and the health sciences frequently have minimum SAT score requirements.

For instance, in order to be accepted into the program at the University of Kansas, which is currently test-optional, applicants must achieve at least 1160 SAT score. Prior to being admitted to their department, students who want to major in business, design, or engineering must also meet minimum SAT score requirements.

Additionally, some departments at the University of Houston have SAT requirements. Students who want to major in nursing must achieve a score of 1220 or higher (and make at least a 630 on the SAT Reading section). They might require a score that is even higher, depending on their class rank. Those aspiring nurses who place in the bottom half of their graduating class must earn a 1300 or higher.

In order to answer the question “Do I need to take the SAT for college? ” be sure to research the colleges you plan to apply to. To get into the program of your dreams, you might need to get a pretty high SAT score!

What Is the Average SAT Score to Get Into College?

Since good SAT scores for universities vary depending on where you’re applying, there is no definitive answer to this question. The SAT score 1400 will be quite low for some schools (i.e., the top 20 colleges) and quite high for some. As you might have guessed, applicants to highly selective schools typically need to have some of the highest SAT scores.

Students lined up in desk and taking an exam.

A score in the 25th percentile denotes that 25% of students achieved this level or lower, whereas a score in the 75th percentile denotes that 75% of students achieved this level or lower. The median SAT score range for a given school is between the 25th and 75th percentiles, which represent the middle 50% of admitted applicants’ SAT scores.

Typically, the response to the query, “what is the average SAT score to get into college?” should be that the scores in the 75th percentile or higher are considered to be good for universities (i.e., anything above the middle 50 percent).

What College Can I Get Into With My SAT Score?

You have decided to take the SAT, and now the next question is, “what college can I get into with my SAT score?” The top 25 US schools (as determined by US News) are listed below, along with a range of incoming students’ SAT scores. This information emphasizes the SAT score you must achieve in order to have the best chance of being admitted to a highly selective institution:

School Ranking 25th Percentile Score 75th Percentile Score Avg SAT Score
Princeton 1 1450 1570 1510
Columbia 2 (tie) 1470 1570 1520
Harvard 2 (tie) 1460 1580 1520
MIT 2 (tie) 1510 1580 1545
Yale 5 1460 1580 1520
Stanford 6 (tie) 1420 1570 1495
UChicago 6 (tie) 1500 1570 1535
Penn 8 1460 1570 1515
Caltech 9 (tie) 1530 1580 1555
Duke 9 (tie) 1470 1570 1520
Johns Hopkins 9 (tie) 1480 1570 1525
Northwestern 9 (tie) 1430 1550 1490
Dartmouth 13 1440 1560 1500
Brown 14 (tie) 1440 1570 1500
Vanderbilt 14 (tie) 1470 1570 1520
WUSTL 14 (tie) 1480 1560 1520
Cornell 17 (tie) 1400 1540 1470
Rice 17 (tie) 1460 1570 1515
Notre Dame 19 1290 1520 1405
UCLA 20 1280 1530 1400
Emory 21 1380 1530 1455
UC Berkeley 22 1290 1530 1410
Georgetown 23 (tie) 1380 1550 1465
University of Michigan 23 (tie) 1340 1560 1450
Carnegie Mellon 25 (tie) 1460 1560 1510
University of Virginia 25 (tie) 1320 1510 1415

The SAT scores you’ll need for the top 25 schools vary slightly but are generally quite high, as you can see from this chart.

UCLA has the lowest SAT scores of all of these schools; the middle 50% of incoming students there scored between 1290 and 1520, or the 84th and 99th percentiles. Contrarily, Caltech continues to have the highest SAT scores; only 25% of incoming students achieved a score of 1530 or lower, which is an astounding SAT score in the 99th percentile!

Even more impressive, a staggering 75% of Caltech students received scores that were at or below the 99th+ percentile of 1580.

Do I Need to Take the SAT For Community College?

You might be wondering “do I need to take the SAT for community college?” as you get ready to enroll in one. Fortunately, most community college programs don’t demand the SAT or any specific grades or test results. You only need to be able to show that you have a GED or high school diploma.

Shading a test paper using a pencil.

There are exceptions, as there are in many areas of education. Test scores are necessary for some specialized community college programs. Additionally, you might eventually need SAT or ACT scores if you’re a student who wants to transfer into a four-year degree program.

We will discuss which programs require SAT or other standardized test scores and which do not in this article.

It is open enrollment at community colleges.

The majority of community colleges have open enrollment policies, which means they don’t have the same methods for choosing students as four-year institutions do. Your academic performance, test results, or extracurricular activities won’t be taken into consideration.

All they care about is whether you have a GED or a high school diploma.

However, that does not imply that there is no application process.

High school graduates and GED holders can apply with complete confidence and are guaranteed admission, but they must remember to submit the required paperwork by the semester deadline. It’s always a good idea to submit your application for classes prior to the deadline in case there are any errors or additional materials you need to submit.

Don’t forget the deadlines for college applications

Programs at community colleges with a focus.

Test results are necessary for some specialized degree programs at community colleges. So, if you would ask, “do I need to take the SAT for college?” Yes, if the field you want to study is engineering, engineering-related fields, and other STEM fields. You should check your school’s requirements to see if test scores are required if you plan to attend community college for one of these subjects.

The earlier you find out, the better; you’ll need plenty of time to prepare, retake, and study.

SAT prerequisites for four-year institutions.

You might eventually need to take the SAT or ACT if you’re enrolled in a community college with the goal of transferring to a four-year university. Fortunately, you won’t require it to enroll in your community college program (provided it is not a specialized program as mentioned above).

When Should the SAT or ACT Be Taken?

When should the SAT or ACT be taken? Is it preferable to take it before you enroll in a community college or as you finish your first two years and get ready for your next four? The response to this query is debatable.

Young man taking an exam but looking at the camera.

You might be better off taking it sooner rather than later if you just graduated from high school. The general education courses taught in high schools typically give students a good foundation for standardized testing. So, if you take it now, the important information will still be fresh in your mind.

It might be best to postpone taking the test if you haven’t attended high school in a while or never finished it. Your community college courses might enable you to learn some information that will benefit you on the exams and return you to an academic frame of mind.

You can also take a semester off to concentrate on your ACT or SAT preparation.

Do Colleges Require SAT for the Class of 2023?

It turns out to be a challenging question.

If you’re a rising junior (class of 2023), you’ve probably observed that your senior and junior friends essentially got away with discarding their books for the SAT and ACT exams. Therefore, you might be pondering: do colleges require SAT for the class of 2023?

Moreover, there are more and more schools starting to accept applications even without standardized test scores. Even before Coronavirus upended all of our lives for almost a year and a half, the trend has been that fewer and fewer schools are requiring the SAT or ACT essay. Also, the College Board recently discontinued both the SAT essay and the SAT II Subject Tests.

All of this suggests that tests are essentially disappearing. So, do I need to take the SAT for college?

It appears that there are roughly 1,540 accredited higher education institutions in the United States that are test-optional or test blind (also known as “test free”). More than 410 of these colleges were merely being lenient to the classes of 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19 shutdowns over the previous 18 months.

How many colleges are going to require juniors to take standardized exams?

  • 84: the number of colleges and universities that will probably no longer be Test-Optional for the class of 2024 but are currently still Test Optional for the class of 2023.
  • The 21 campuses that make up the Penn State University system are included in this figure.
  • 375: the number of colleges and universities that only offered test-optional courses for the classes of 2021 and/or 2022, but not for classes beginning in 2023 and later.
  • 17: the number of college campuses that participated in a “two-year pilot”; these campuses were Test Optional for the classes of 2021 and 2022, but must now decide whether they want to return to normal or continue being Test Optional for the classes of 2023 and onward.

For the classes of 2021 and/or 2022, 44 college campuses were Test Blind/Test Free; however, they will NOT be Test Blind for the class of 2023.

Included in this are the 11 campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY) system and the 23 campuses of the California State University system. Thus, 419 schools will return to their previous pre-Covid testing requirements, and a further 17 may decide in the near future. This may sway your opinion if you are still considering the question, “do I need to take the SAT for college?”

How Long Does the College Board Take to Send SAT Scores?

If you request your score reports after your SAT results are online (about 13 days after the test), it will take a college about 1-2 weeks to receive your SAT results. Because colleges do not immediately receive your score when the College Board sends the score report, the timing is a little unpredictable.

Writing in a notebook in a white table.

Each college decides how frequently and in what format they want to receive score reports from the College Board. Through software that stores your score with the rest of your application materials, the majority of colleges receive scores electronically. The frequency of downloading new score reports is decided by the colleges themselves, usually once per day to once per week (for example, UVA gets them daily).

Is free score report faster?

You could select up to four colleges to receive your free SAT score reports when you registered to take the test. Additionally, you can change or add colleges up to nine days after the test. You may send as many free score reports as you like if you are eligible for SAT fee waiver.

If you used the free score reports, would the colleges receive your SAT results more quickly?


If you select this option, your SAT test results will be sent to colleges about three weeks after you take the test, usually within 10 days of you seeing them on the College Board website. However, as I mentioned above, colleges decide how frequently to download fresh score reports, so they might not immediately receive your results; it could take them up to a week to do so.

Is rushed score report quicker?

You have the option of expediting your score reports.

The College Board promises to send your already-released scores within one to four business days if you rush your score reports, which cost an additional $31 on top of the regular score report fee (not including weekends or holidays). If you submit your score reports quickly, it should take the colleges about one to one and a half weeks to receive the results.

How long does the college board take to send SAT scores for rushed score reports? It takes approximately 1.5 weeks, the rushed reports don’t really make that much of a difference (if any) as to when colleges receive your scores.

They cost a lot of money and are almost never worthwhile.

Dates for Sending Scores

You should send your results right away if you already have them and are satisfied with them (i.e., if you don’t intend to retake the test).

Always prefer sooner to later. Colleges will keep your test results on file until you submit the rest of your application, even if you haven’t done so yet. If you decide to wait, I’d suggest sending your test results at least three weeks prior to the college’s deadline for application since there are various application deadlines for each school.

If you are having trouble preparing for the SAT or if you are still wondering, “Do I need to take the SAT for college?”, we would be happy to assist you. Get in touch with AdmissionSight right away to set up a consultation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.