When should you take the ACT and SAT tests?

Rick-Allen-Thumb-150I recently had lunch with a friend who provides private baseball instruction.  During our visit, he told me about one of his athletes who is a senior and hoping to play at the NCAA level.  The player told him he was taking the ACT test on December 11.

When my friend asked him how many times he had taken it so far, the player said “This will be my first time.”  (He has not taken the SAT either.)

If you are a subscriber to our monthly newsletter, I’m confident that most of you know how important it is to take the ACT or SAT test during the junior year.

It not only provides a baseline score so the athlete knows how much, if any, they need to improve their score for freshman eligibility to compete, but also how much they need to improve their score for academic scholarships.

Keep in mind that an ACT Sum Score of 105 or an SAT score of 1200 (in critical reading and math) could mean an additional academic scholarship (100 or 1050 for NCAA Division II).

In addition, it also is required before athletes can make official visits to campus or be offered a National Letter of Intent.

So make sure you get an ACT or SAT test scheduled at least once during your junior year.

If you are new to our website, you can access our up-to-date recruiting calendar with upcoming ACT & SAT test dates by clicking on the “NCAA Recruiting Calendars” button on our home page at www.informedathlete.com.


About Rick Allen

25+ years NCAA Rules Expertise, including Director of Compliance at 2 major DI schools

Former President of National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC)

Conducts compliance reviews and audits at NCAA Schools throughout the U.S.

Consulted with NAIA schools transitioning to NCAA membership status

Dad of a DI & DII student-athlete

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20 Responses to When should you take the ACT and SAT tests?

  • arsene

    Hey how you doing. I have not taking my act or sat yet n I’m a senior in high school what should I do? And I just move to a new state I use to live in ga n I just moved to Maryland

  • Kenny

    Hey Rick,

    Do you need to take both the SAT & the ACT to be eligible? Which is more important? Also, are there any disadvantages of sitting the SAT (or ACT) in your sophomore year?


    • Kenny,

      You don’t have to take both, although it can be a good idea to try both at least once. The one that is more important depends upon the colleges you are considering and what they prefer their prospective students to take. Traditionally, the SAT seems to be more important to colleges in the Eastern US. There is no downside to taking it during your sophomore year.


      • Kenny

        Thanks, Rick. One more question, as an international student, how do I send transcripts into the NCAA Eligibility Centre? Email or post?

        • Kenny,

          They must be sent via post directly from your school. A transcript you send in yourself will not be accepted.


  • Hollie

    Hi Rick,

    Your website has been incredibly helpful! I am attending my local JC this fall. I do not meet the NCAA requirements to be eligible for the team. I was wondering if I attended the JC for a year would I be able to apply to the NCAA with my transcripts from this year at the JC or do they require high school transcripts? I have not take the SAT or ACT as it is not a requirement at my JC, do I absolutely need to take one of those tests to be NCAA eligible? Is there anyway around this?

    Thank you so much for your help

    • Hollie,

      The importance of the ACT or SAT test depends upon what level of school you hope to transfer to after time at the JUCO. Without a sufficient ACT or SAT score, if your goal is to go to an NCAA Div. I school, you will have to stay at the JUCO long enough to graduate with your Associates Degree, and satisfy other academic requirements.

      To be eligible as a 2-4 transfer to an NCAA Div. II school, you do not have to graduate with your Associates Degree, but you will need to earn the required number of transferable English and math courses.

      Finally, if you are considering taking the ACT or SAT to become NCAA-eligible, you will need to take the test and achieve the necessary score before you begin full-time enrollment at the JC. The score from an ACT or SAT test taken AFTER full-time college enrollment will not be able to be considered for NCAA eligibility.


  • Michelle

    Hi Rick,
    I wish I would have known about you sight earlier. Can you please answer several questions:

    My son is a Sr. in High school and would like to run XC and T and F in college. However, there are some science and math classes that he took that are not on the NCAA approval list. Because he has a learning disability he took these classes and now it seems as though he cannot participate in a DI or DII school. Is there any way around this? Also, his SAT scores were significantly low. He is taking the ACT this weekend hoping to do better. However, his GPA is quite good. Is it always the case that the higher your GPA the higher your SAT/ACT scores have to be to be an NCAA qualifier? Also has there ever been a situation that a coach has accepted a athlete with the assumption that the athlete improve standardized test scores or take additional online coarses to replace the unapproved classes? Thank you!

    • Michelle,

      Answering several questions will require a paid consult. Contact me directly if interested.


  • Anthony

    Rick, I have a question that doesn’t have a hard and fast answer but curious if there’s a consensus opinion: A college is looking at two high school baseball players. One has a 3.7 GPA taking basic math and science courses, the other a 3.0 taking AP and Honors courses. Which one carries more weight with the school?

    Along the same lines, if a college wants the second athlete, but their standards for freshmen admits is higher than the 3.0, does baseball have exceptions, like football and basketball that they could use for him?

    Thanks for the help, love the website!

    • Anthony,

      The answer to your first question is that it depends upon the coach and which athlete he feels gives him a better chance to win games.

      The answer to your second question is that it will depend upon the school and their admission policies. Some schools have alternative admission standards or appeals, which may or may not include exceptions for athletes being offered an athletic scholarship.


  • Anthony P.

    My son is a junior, just took SAT and taking the ACT this weekend. He has registered with NCAA Eligibility Center. Should we wait until we see scores before submitting to NCAA. If he is not pleased with scores and wants to take again, would we want these on his profile? Thanks.

    • Anthony,

      The Eligibility Center will take the best of each of the subscores achieved on any of the ACT or SAT tests, so all test scores should be submitted. In other words, they can take the Math subscore from one test attempt, and the English subscore from another test attempt in order to determine the total score used for eligibility purposes.


  • Hyelladi

    Hello Rick, I am a Nigerian about to take SAT test this january, I play basketball. After I take it, how do I send my SAT test scores to NCAA. And also, is admission automatic with a high SAT test score attained.

  • Lynn

    Love your site!
    My son is a Junior and has had some interest from Division 1 Schools. He’s scheduled to take his Sat In early June. I thought you couldn’t take an official visit until the first day of School, your Senior year. Is it Jan 1 of your Junior year or is it Aug of your senior year?
    Will waiting until June to take the test delay coaches from inviting us or hurt the recruiting process?

    • Lynn,

      For NCAA Div. I schools, basketball is different than other sports. Currently, men’s basketball prospects can take an official visit as early as January of their junior year of HS. Women’s basketball official visits can begin shortly after the Div. I Championship game in April. For all other Div. I sports, the current rule is that official visits can’t be made until the prospect has started classes for the senior year of HS.


  • Scott

    Hoping you can help me. My daughter will be playing Division II softball. The coach is going to give her an athletic scholarship of around 60% However, she told my daughter that the academic money of about $4500 a year in addition to the athletic money she will be receiving would only be given if she could score a 24 on the ACT, 1150 on the SAT (just math and reading count and no writing), finish with 3.50 gpa cumulative or top 20% of her class. She has to meet just 1 of those four criteria. Only one she has a shot at is the ACT or SAT score. My question is, the 24 score on the ACT…is that an NCAA standard to get additional academic money from the school–or is that a coach set benchmark or an admissions thing for student-athletes at the school? Thanks for your help in clarifying this for me/us.

    • Scott,

      The coach is referring to an NCAA rule that will allow the academic scholarship to be exempt from counting against the total limit of scholarships that she is allowed to provide her team members. The academic scholarship is exempt if your daughter can achieve one of those four criteria. And, to clarify, for NCAA purposes, an ACT “sum score” is used. The “sum score” is the total of the four subsections of the ACT test. And the ACT “sum score” required is 100, so it is roughly equivalent to a 25 not a 24.


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