Admissions Tests


Reed college grads

Some colleges require or recommend students take admissions tests in order to apply or be eligible for scholarships.



Some colleges use scores from admissions tests, also known as college entrance exams, to help evaluate if a student is ready to do college-level work. Some scholarship providers also use test scores when awarding scholarships. The most common college entrance exams are the SAT and ACT.

Some colleges require students to take the tests and submit their scores as part of their application. If a college requires you to send test scores, they will accept them from either the SAT or the ACT. Due to coronavirus, most colleges, including all Oregon colleges, and many scholarship providers have relaxed their testing requirements for students applying to start in the fall of 2021.

There are a few key differences between the tests. These differences can help you decide which test might be right for you:




Content Reading
Writing & Language
Writing (optional)
Length 3 hours
Additional 50 minutes for essay
3 hours
Additional 35 minutes for writing
Scoring 400 – 1600 points 1 – 36 points
Retesting Retaking the whole test is allowed Retaking the whole test or individual sections is allowed



Most students should take at least one of the tests. Many scholarship applications require you to submit test scores. If you want to go to a four-year college, taking the SAT or ACT will give you more options of schools you can apply to. Due to coronavirus, most students planning to start college in the fall of 2021 will not need to take the SAT or ACT. 

The following students should always take the SAT or ACT:

  • Athletes: If you will be a varsity athlete at an NAIA or NCAA Division I school, you are required to take the SAT or ACT to maintain eligibility to play. This is true even if the college does not require test scores as part of your application for admission. Due to coronavirus, students who initially enroll full time during the 2021-22 or 2022-23 academic year will not be required to take a standardized test to meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements.
  • Homeschooled students: The majority of test optional colleges still require homeschooled students to submit SAT or ACT scores.


If possible, take the test in the spring of your junior year. If you like, you can take the test again in the summer or fall of your senior year.

If you take a test more than once, most colleges will “super score” your tests. They’ll use the highest score you earned on each section when evaluating your application.

Both tests are offered on some Saturdays at testing sites around the state. Many high schools also have all-school testing days for one of the tests.

Whether you take it on a Saturday or during an all-school testing day, take it seriously. Get plenty of rest the night before, eat a good breakfast, and do your best on the exam.





When a college or university is “test optional” for admissions, it means that they don’t require an SAT or ACT score from all applicants to be considered for admissions. Many colleges, including all of Oregon’s public colleges and universities and many of our private, not-for-profit colleges, do not require students in the class of 2021 and beyond to submit test scores with the application. Due to coronavirus, most students planning to start college at any Oregon college in the fall of 2021 will not need to take the SAT or ACT.

Students choose whether they want to submit their test scores with their application. In most cases, if you do send scores, the admissions committee will use them when making admissions and scholarship decisions. If you do not submit test scores, you will not be penalized for admissions. While the majority of applicants have a choice, some students may still be required to submit scores. At some colleges, you may be required to submit additional information if they choose not to send test scores. It’s important to know the requirements for each college where you plan to apply.




No Test Required

Students do not ever have to submit test scores.

Test (Usually*) Required

All first-year applicants are required to submit test scores. Because of testing interruptions as a result of the coronavirus, applicants for Fall 2021* may not be required to submit test scores.