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standardized test answer sheet in background To Test or Not to Test? in foreground

See To Test or Not to Test? for an explanation of Test Optional policies and the latest from colleges.


College Admissions Tests for 4-year Colleges

PSAT  While this used to be administered school-wide to 10th grade students, now students must sign up. Emails from the school district will go out to 10th and 11th grade students every fall. Students will need to pay to take the test, and it will be administered at the district office on a Saturday in the fall. 

SAT  Offered by the College Board seven times a school year. Shorewood is usually a test site, though we are unable to reserve seats for our own students. Register through the Four year colleges that accept scores will take either the SAT or ACT. 

ACT  Offered by ACT seven times a school year. Register through Four year colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT and do not express a preference.


Test-Optional or Test-Flexible Colleges

See to view a searchable list of the 90% of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT scores. See To Test or Not to Test? for an explanation of Test Optional policies and the latest from colleges. 

Test-Optional Can Mean Different Things

UW Seattle is officially test optional, yet in practice, they only look at scores in about 1 of 200 applicants. They are nearly test blind. Auburn University, on the other hand, is also test optional, yet it prefers having test scores. 

Do your due diligence when you are looking at colleges and considering their policies. 


ASVAB: the Military Test

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, is used by all branches of the United States Military. Potential recruits take the test--either on a computer or on paper-- at a local office. 

The ASVAB is a  is a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. It is administered annually to more than one million military applicants, high school, and post-secondary students.

The ASVAB measures aptitudes in four domains: Verbal; Math; Science and Technical; Spatial. See ASVAB Subtests for details on the test structure and Preparing for the ASVAB for ways to prepare for the test and advice about test-taking strategy. 


Community College Placement Tests

Colleges like Shoreline Community College have some placement tests rather than admissions tests. The scores are used to figure out which level of course you should take if there is not another means of placement.

Shoreline Community College has several options for placement. See SCC's Placement and Prerequisites page for full details. Students may be able to use the following for placement purposes.

  • ACT and/ or SAT for English or Math
  • Aleks, which can be taken at SCC
  • AP (Advanced Placement), which may be used to fulfill prerequisites or as college credit toward a degree.
  • High School Transcript for Shoreline School District and Edmonds School District students.
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment in Reading and/ or Math

Edmonds Community College generally uses the Accuplacer test, though some Alternative Assessments are also accepted. See EDCC Placement Testing and EDCC Alternative Assessments

Further Information

For Seniors Considering Applying with SAT/ ACT Scores

Source:  NACAC State of College Admission Report Factors in the Admission Decision Fall 2023.  

What do Colleges Look For? 

The Fall 2023 State of College Admission Report is the most comprehensive resource available for the criteria colleges use as they evaluate students. 

See Factors in the Admission Decision Fact Sheet or Factors in Admission Decision Presentation, both from Fall 2023. The first table is also displayed in the column at left at the bottom of this page. Note that test scores are, on average, the 16th most important (out of 16) factors considered by colleges. 

For a college-by-college look at the importance attributed to various factors in the same format as the above report, go to > search for a particular college > Admissions > scroll down to Selection of Students

This information is taken from each college's Common Data Set. If you are interesting in delving into this data, do a search for the name of the college + Common Data Set and you should find links. 

Official Sites 

If you wish to take the SAT and/ or ACT, you must register directly with the testing agency. Even if the exam (some SAT administrations) will be held at Shorewood, we are unable to save seats for our students. There will be limited PSAT availability for 10th and 11th grade students through the school district each fall. 

FairTest List of Test-Optional and Test-Flexible Colleges 
PSAT (College Board)
SAT (College Board)


Testing Resources

Compass Guide to College Admissions Testing

From this Compass Education page, you can download the excellent annual Compass Guide for free. 

About the PSAT: Post by PrepScholar

Excellent summary of the purpose of the PSAT/ NMSQT, how it is structured, and how it is scored. Also section-by-section tips.  

PSAT Practice Tests

Official practice tests from the College Board. 

PSAT Student Score Reports

College Board page on scores. Includes a video about the score report. 

Khan Academy Full-Length PSAT

A full-length PSAT to take on paper. Khan Academy is the official partner of the College Board and provides free online test prep. 

Khan Academy SAT Math Practice

Khan Academy SAT Math Practice. The PSAT and SAT share the same Khan Academy test prep. 

Khan Academy SAT Reading and Writing Practice

The PSAT and SAT share the same Khan Academy test prep.


drawing of SAT & ACT answer sheets X'd out in red crayon with Most Colleges Are Test Optional

Recommended Reading on College Admissions Testing

The Misguided War on Test Optional Inside Higher Education 2.5.2024 by Akil Bello. Bello started his career as a test prep tutor and founder of a successful test prep company. He is a nationally recognized expert in college admissions testing. 

So Dartmouth will require the SAT again. Here's what really matters for California students Los Angeles Times 2.13.2024 by Stephen Handel and Eileen Strempel. The authors point out that only 4% of students attend elite institutions like Dartmouth, and that there are much more important issues in higher education, like low completion rates, particularly for traditionally underserved populations. Washington has no public or private 4-year colleges that require SAT/ ACT scores, so we are in the same situation as California. 

For more, see the Recommended Resources page.