For years, student-athletes who wished to play sports at the college level were required to submit their SAT and ACT scores as part of the eligibility requirements.
However, starting in 2023, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has permanently removed the requirement, giving student-athletes greater flexibility in the college admissions process.
The decision to eliminate the SAT and ACT requirement for student-athletes was driven by several factors. One of the main reasons was the ongoing debate over the fairness of standardized tests.
The NCAA recognizes that student-athletes have unique challenges and demands on their time, making preparing for and taking standardized tests more difficult.
Read on to learn about the previous SAT and ACT requirements for student-athletes, why the NCAA permanently removed this requirement, how student-athletes are affected, and where to contact a college planner for more advice.
What were the SAT and ACT requirements for student-athletes?
The SAT and ACT are standardized tests that assess a student’s knowledge and skills in various areas, including math, reading, and writing.
Colleges and universities often use these scores as part of their admissions process to evaluate a student’s academic readiness for college-level coursework.
In the past, the SAT and ACT requirements for student-athletes varied depending on the sport and the division level of the NCAA that the athlete was competing in.
For Division I schools, the NCAA Eligibility Center required a minimum SAT score of 900 or an ACT sum score of 75, in addition to meeting specific academic requirements, such as completing a certain number of core courses in high school with a minimum GPA.
However, the minimum SAT and ACT scores required were higher for certain sports or for more selective schools.
Additionally, the NCAA used a sliding scale that took into account the student-athletes’ GPA and test scores to determine their eligibility to compete.
For Division II schools, the NCAA Eligibility Center required a minimum SAT score of 820 or an SAT sum score of 68, in addition to meeting certain academic requirements.
Why did the NCAA permanently remove the requirement?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA had to relax its testing requirements due to a lack of infrastructure and resources to support it.
What started as a temporary waiver gradually became more permanent, as standardized testing is now a thing of the past.
Prior to the pandemic, standardized testing was already criticized for its potential biases, including racial and cultural biases, that may affect the scores of students from certain backgrounds.
Critics are not far off in their assumptions, as research has shown that standardized test scores correlate with family income, with students from wealthier families scoring higher than those from lower-income families.
Many now see that standardized testing may not accurately measure a student’s potential or academic abilities and may unfairly disadvantage certain groups of students.
However, while the NCAA has permanently removed testing requirements, some colleges and universities may still require standardized testing for scholarship eligibility and admission.
We advise student-athletes to check with the schools they intend to apply to.
While the NCAA has gotten rid of standardized testing, students will still need to meet minimum core-course GPA scores.
Division I schools require a 2.3, and Division II schools require a 2.2
Students must also earn 16 NCAA-approved core-course credits.
Which student-athletes are affected and how?
The NCAA’s decision to eliminate the SAT and ACT requirement affects all student-athletes who plan to compete at Division I or II level. This includes athletes in sports such as football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball, among others.
Without the SAT or ACT requirement, student-athletes will have more flexibility in the college admission process. They can choose whether or not to submit their test scores, depending on their circumstances and strengths.
This change is particularly beneficial for student-athletes who struggle with standardized tests. They will no longer be held back by low test scores and will have a greater chance of being recruited by colleges and universities.
However, it’s important to note that the elimination of the SAT or ACT requirement does not mean that academic performance is no longer important for student-athletes.
Colleges and universities will still evaluate student-athletes based on their high school grades and other factors, such as extracurricular activities and community service.
This change is particularly significant for student-athletes who may have struggled with the SAT or ACT. It opens up new opportunities for them to pursue their passions and achieve their goals without being limited by their test scores.
Are you planning to be a collegiate student-athlete?
If you plan on playing a sport in college, the elimination of standardized testing may be a relief for you. However, in some cases, you may still want to or need to take the test.
To determine which tests you may need to take to get into the school of your dreams, complete your own research and reach out to college planning specialists.
College planning specialists can help you decide which schools will fulfill your expectations and needs, how to apply to schools and for financial aid, and where to find valuable resources.
While in the end, it will be up to you to decide which school you would like to attend, and if you would like to be involved in a sport, we can guide you in the right direction based on what you want your future to look like.