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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 more than 2000 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 often have placement tests rather than admissions tests. The scores are used to figure out which level of course (primarily English and/ or Math) you should take if there is not another means of making the determination.

Shoreline Community College has several options. 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
  • Completion of Bridges to College English and/or Bridges to College Math
  • High School Transcript for Shoreline School District and Edmonds School District students.
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment in Reading and/ or Math

Edmonds College generally uses the Accuplacer test, though some alternative assessments are also accepted. See Edmonds College Testing.  

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 10th most important factor 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 to 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

Download this excellent guide for free. It goes in-depth with PSAT, SAT, ACT, and AP test content, scoring, and comparisons.  2023-24 edition. 

About the PSAT: Post by PrepScholar

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


Access guides to what is on the exam, how it is scored, and more. 

SAT Home 

Access information and guides to what is on the exam, how it is structured, and more. 

SAT Practice and Preparation

Download practice tests and guides on prep, scoring, and what to do on test day. 

Khan Academy SAT Practice Resources

Khan Academy no longer has an official tie with the College Board, but their materials are high quality. 


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. 

Higher Ed Data Stories, a blog by Jon Boeckenstedt, a VP for Enrollment at Oregon State University. Look for related posts, including the 2.1.2024 post on First Year Student Diversity showing the demographic stats of the classes admitted various years. The first almost-fully test optional classes were admitted in 2020 and 2021. 

For more, see the Recommended Resources page.