Make a Fearless Prediction: How will colleges use the SAT/ACT for the class of 2026?

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For those applying to enter as frosh in fall 2022, the University of California intends to give its campuses the choice of SAT/ACT-optional or SAT/ACT-blind. But there may be ongoing court cases on the matter. The following page gives intentions; a lawsuit outcome has required SAT/ACT-blind for the current admission cycle for those applying to enter as frosh in fall 2021.

The California State University system has announced that it will be SAT/ACT-blind for those applying to enter as frosh in fall 2022.

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First, let me make a fearless prediction for the class of 2027:
By that time, colleges will know quite a bit about the class of 2025, and I am sure they will be tracking how well the kids with no tests submitted vs. kids with tests submitted do as their students. A permanent move to test-optional will be made if the outcomes are promising.
As for the class of 2026, everything will depend on how quickly this crazy world of our crawls back toward normal; for schools overwhelmed by the number of applicants this year, the decision to come back to testing may be strictly practical, it is such a quick elimination data point.


Agree that colleges’ institutional research departments will be tracking the progress of SAT/ACT-optional cohorts in this accidental forced experiment for colleges that were previously SAT/ACT-required. What they find will influence their future test-related policies (not necessarily the same findings and resulting policies at each college).

Yes, and what a massive forced experiment it’s been! Oh, the wealth of data! The dissertations! The fight for the survival of testing companies and the prep industry! Interesting times inded.

“Fearless?” Or simply premature?

Except where something related has been announced, as ucbalumnus offered.

That’s the beauty of making a prediction. Cmon, you can do it!


I expect the following:

  1. Test providers will continue to flounder.
  2. Test optional colleges will remain test optional.
  3. Colleges that stuck to their guns and required tests will become test optional.
  4. Test blind colleges will grow, but ever so slightly, so most people will not even notice.

There had been a ton of research on this subject. We already know the answer. Will it be a 3 hour test or 5,000 hours of classes and multiple test, quizzes, assignments, etc?

High school GPA is a five time better predictor of college success than the ACT/SAT. Colleges know this. The ones that are pushing for standardized testing are the College Board and the ACT.

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But from reading CC, there are also lots of good test-takers out there who hope CB and ACT prevail.

You make it look like hard science while it seems that good, nuanced arguments are made both against tests and for them. Some point to the fact that high school GPA is a very solid predictor when a high school happens to be a prominent college prep, and much less if it is a small place in the middle of nowhere; grade inflation is another random factor… You’ve heard it many times I’m sure.
I’m not a big fan of tests, studying for them took too much time but in the end, the psychological comfort of sending these good scores to colleges was priceless (while a little voice in me was whispering: what a pointless exercise).


While we begin SAT test prep round 2, for the March date, I worry this one is going to get scrapped also. Would be nice to look into the future to take some burden off these kids who decide to stick with test optional, and get off the prep/cancel rollercoaster. My gut agrees with michaeluwill feedback. Time will tell…

Can you point to the research on next year’s applications and what the answer is? I must have missed it.

I’d be happy to have a definitive answer on how test scores will be used in early 2022, as would many current juniors.


For many students, it will be to their advantage to take PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT if they can get test dates. Even if all of the colleges on their lists are test-optional or test-blind for admission, there are scholarships that are still test-dependent (National Merit being the obvious one, but also some automatic-for-stats scholarships at various colleges).

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You may be right but what do you think the colleges will do next year? Will they go back to the old way or continue on the test optional path?

For a current high school student who will be applying for fall 2022 entry, that is not the right question.

The right question is what should the student do in anticipation of uncertain test required/optional/blind choices that colleges make*. The answer to this is clear: to maximize options, take the tests when/if you can, in case there are colleges on the list that end up being test-required, or if you get a good score to send to a test-optional college, or if the score becomes helpful in getting scholarships.

Now, there may be concern about spending a lot of time on test preparation that ends up becoming useless. But if test preparation takes a lot of time, it may be worth looking into more efficient methods of test preparation.

*Assuming that the application list includes or may include colleges that have not yet announced their intentions.


I still mostly like my question, but also mostly like your question and response. Note that many people know already that they will never score at the right level for their desired schools, regardless of prep method and hours spent. For those students, should they focus their efforts elsewhere. IMO this would require research and thoughts about where the puck is moving - my question.

For the class of 2026, the puck is moving toward more schools going test-optional. I think that participation in academic endeavors (competitions) such as the Olympiads and AIME will increase, as students, (especially) those whose schools and families can afford such support, will seek other avenues to help distinguish themselves in their college applications.

In accordance with ucbalumnus, it is advantageous to take the SATs and ACTs if available; however, I think the number of test takers will decrease.


Until there are some reforms regarding the test process, I believe colleges will continue to go test optional but I don’t think this is a good idea because grade inflation is very real, at least in our school system. If a very large number of students are scoring above 3.8GPA, what is left to distinguish one from another? AP exams are one way but even those have been compromised. A student can pad their GPA by taking many AP courses and getting an A for the course yet score a 1 or 2 on the exam. Did they really learn the material or are A’s routinely given? If they also don’t have to report their AP score, then how can an admissions officer make an informed judgement? Same with the SAT and ACT. One needed reform is to only allow a certain number of times that someone can take the SAT or ACT. I would recommend 2 or 3 times maximum which eliminates “the rich kid can take it many times argument.” Most high schools offer a review course for free so that also eliminates the rich kid argument. SAT and ACT should remain required as part of every admissions decisions but with this particular reform to make it a much more objective measure of an individual applicant, IMO.

If “A in AP course with 1 or 2 on AP exam” is a common pattern at the high school, then that speaks negatively about the quality of the high school (or at least those specific courses where that is the common pattern), since the AP exam is directly tied to the content that should have been taught in the AP course.