Utah (ABC4) — High school students may be gearing up for college applications; but are SAT and ACT scores still relevant? According to the director of outreach for the National Test Prep Association, the answer is yes.

While not all colleges require test scores, even test-optional colleges such as Utah State, are inviting students to submit their scores, indicating that they still hold some importance in the admissions process.

According to the ACT website, the ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests in English, math, reading, and science—with an optional writing test. Each multiple-choice subject test contains questions with four or five answer options.

According to ACT, here are some tips for preparing for the ACT Test.

First, they recommend getting familiar with the test. The website states you should review the information found in the “Preparing for the ACT practice booklet,” as well as look at the subjects, topics, and content areas that are covered on the test.

Second, they recommend identifying areas to improve. They said this means using the practice test to identify the subjects that are most challenging.

Third, they recommend updating your knowledge and skills. The website said once you identify what you should focus on improving, consider dedicating time to complete additional test prep in those areas. They said you can even take coursework in those areas you struggle in.

When the time comes to take the test, this is what ACT recommends:

  • Gather everything you need the day before the test, including an approved calculator, test ticket, sharpened pencils, and photo ID. 
  • Double-check the registration time and location. Make sure you know how to get to the test center and how much time you should allow for travel. Plan to arrive 20-30 minutes early to get registered and settle in. 
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the test. 
  • Wear comfortable clothing and eat a healthy breakfast on the day of the test. 
  • As you get started, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and keep a positive attitude. 
  • Listen carefully to instructions and ask questions if you hear something you don’t understand. 
  • Focus your attention entirely on your work. 
  • Position your answer sheet right next to your test booklet so you can mark answers quickly and accurately. 
  • Read each question and possible responses completely before answering. If you’re not sure of the answer, choose the one you think is best and move on. 
  • Be sure to answer every question—there’s no penalty for guessing. 
  • Pace yourself and occasionally check the time. 
  • If you finish before time is up, reread the questions and check your answers.  

The director of outreach for the National Prep Association recommends that students take both the SAT and ACT and determine which test they perform better on. After that, they should focus on their test preparation efforts. However, he said that since the SAT is going digital in 2024, current 10th graders may want to consider taking the ACT instead.

While the admissions landscape may be changing, acing the SAT and ACT may still make a significant impact on a student’s chances of getting into college.

In addition to test scores, GPA is also a crucial factor in admissions. For students who choose not to submit test scores, GPA becomes even more important.