All students deserve the opportunity to succeed. When I’m asked why students should take the SAT®, that’s my answer. Because in today’s test-optional admissions landscape, the SAT allows every student—regardless of where they attend high school—to be seen and to access opportunities that will shape their lives and careers.

Students Want the Choice

During the pandemic, when nearly every U.S. college went test optional, we saw that millions of students still took the SAT. They wanted to keep their options open and make their own choice about how to show their skills and strengths to colleges. In fact, when surveyed, 83% of students said they want the option to submit test scores to colleges. Students deserve this opportunity.

“We have made students and families aware that the SAT, while not an all-encompassing indicator of a student’s aptitudes and abilities, is a tool that can open doors for students in the future,” says Steve Carlson, the principal of Sandusky Junior/Senior High School in Sandusky, MI. “Our student buy-in for the SAT test is strong and we’ve had success with the full SAT Suite of Assessments being viewed as a way for students and their families to gauge their growth and progress along with their curricular areas of success and opportunity.”

The SAT Serves Students

The benefits for students taking the SAT are clear—especially for students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and first-generation college goers. We’ve seen that test scores can strengthen college applications for many students—serving as an objective measure that often confirms a student’s grades or demonstrates their potential beyond what their high school grades may show.

  • In the class of 2020, nearly 1.7 million U.S. students had SAT scores that confirmed or exceeded their high school GPA. That means that their SAT scores were a point of strength on their college applications.
  • Among those students, more than 300,000 were from small towns and rural communities, 600,000 were first-generation college goers, and 700,000 were Black or Latinx.

The SAT Helps Remove Barriers to College

We know from research that offering the SAT at no cost during the school day propels more students into college. To date, over 6 million students in nearly 5,000 districts and 14,000 schools have participated in SAT School Day, with 60% of students who take the SAT now taking it through our School Day program. This has completely changed who takes the SAT and has greatly expanded access to postsecondary opportunities, including scholarships, that the SAT connects students with.

In addition, practice for the SAT is free for all students. Since 2015, The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy® to bring world-class SAT practice to all students—for free. Today, more students use Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy than all paid test prep programs combined.

My Final Takeaway

The SAT is a tool that helps students access opportunities that impact their education, careers, and lives. And I know this firsthand, as I was one of those students.

I’m a first-generation American, the child of immigrants who came to the U.S. with limited financial resources, and when I took the SAT, I was able to connect with information on colleges, scholarships, and educational opportunities that I otherwise never would have known about or had access to.

We want to keep those same doors of opportunity open for all students.

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About the Author

Priscilla Rodriguez is the senior vice president, college readiness assessments for The College Board. Follow The College Board on Twitter (@CollegeBoard). 

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