The College Board offers a program called SAT School Day, which, as the name suggests, allows schools to offer the SAT to students during the week, generally for free.
In some states, all high school juniors are required to take the SAT under this program, while in others only some are. Read on to learn more about this program and what it means for you.
Why Do Some States Require the SAT?
When statewide testing started, Colorado and Illinois decided to partner with ACT, Inc., to use the ACT as the assessment for 11th graders. This plan was meant to eliminate an extra test for students who were already planning to apply to college while also encouraging those who weren't planning for college to consider it. Over the next decade and a half, the two states became 20, and the ACT replaced the SAT as the most popular college admissions test in the US.
In 2010, the College Board introduced a similar program (called SAT School Day) that was meant to increase access to the SAT for low-income students. Although the program caught on in a few places (most notably Delaware), the SAT wasn't as widely accepted as an assessment test because it's generally considered to test aptitude rather than knowledge. For the 2014-15 school year, only three states offered the SAT free to all juniors, though certain districts or schools did so in a handful more.
However, the redesigned SAT (released in 2016) seems to be shifting the momentum. One of the primary goals of the overhaul was to align the SAT with Common Core standards, making it far more appealing as an assessment test than the older version of the test.
Which States Require the SAT?
In total, 20 states (plus Washington, DC) are contracted with the College Board to administer the SAT to some or all high school juniors for free. Let's go through the exact situation for each state, one at a time. (Note that these statements only apply to public school students.)
As of the 2016-17 school year, all Colorado juniors in public schools are eligible to take the SAT through Colorado's SAT School Day.
As of the 2015-16 school year, all juniors attending Connecticut public schools will take the SAT.
In 2016, the SAT replaced Delaware's Smarter Assessment state test for 11th graders.
Although it's not required, the SAT is offered for free to all juniors and seniors in Washington, DC.
Each year, Idaho offers a free administration of the SAT to high school juniors.
Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, all Illinois juniors must take the SAT. Additionally, beginning in spring 2022, some public school students in grade 12 may be required to take the SAT, depending on their fulfillment of high school course requirements and prior completion of the SAT.
Beginning in 2022, Indiana public high school juniors are required to take the SAT in order to graduate. SAT School Day testing will be offered in the spring.
Michigan administered the SAT to juniors statewide for the first time in the 2015-16 school year. Previously, students were given the ACT. The SAT is required for Michigan public school students who are in 11th grade.
As of spring 2016, all New Hampshire juniors must take the SAT.
To graduate high school in Ohio, students must meet threshold scores on the SAT or ACT.
Students in Oklahoma must take either the SAT or ACT, with the choice of test being determined by each individual school district.
Since the 2017-18 school year, all Rhode Island 11th graders must take the SAT.
Students in South Carolina aren’t required to take the SAT or ACT in order to graduate, but South Carolina public schools do offer an SAT school day to all high school juniors.
Students must take either the SAT or ACT.
All juniors must take the SAT unless taking the West Virginia Alternative Summer Assessment.
There are a number of other states where some schools or districts can administer the SAT to their students (either as an option or a requirement). These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Washington. Keep in mind that these schools and districts don't require students to take the SAT, nor is it a requirement for graduation.
To find out whether your school offers SAT School Day and/or requires the SAT for graduation, contact your guidance counselor’s office.
What Does Statewide Testing Mean for Your SAT Prep?
The SAT is the same whether you take it on a regular test date or on a state-administered date. Nonetheless, there are a few things to keep in mind if you're required to take the exam.
#1: A Free Test
Because the state foots the bill for its own administration of the exam, you won't have to pay any fees to take the SAT on that date. This discount might or might not be important for you, but if it is, make sure to study for the statewide testing date. This free SAT also comes with four free score reports.
There are other resources for low-income families as well. You might be eligible for two SAT fee waivers, so you'd be able to take the test a total of three times if you don't get the score you want the first time.
#2: Free Study Materials
The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free official SAT study materials to everyone (you'll just need to sign up for a free account). Be sure to do some practice with these materials if you're planning to take the SAT.
In addition, your school might have teachers include some SAT prep in their classes or offer extra prep opportunities to students who want them.
#3: No Effect on the Curve
Contrary to popular belief, when you take the SAT will have no effect on your score. The SAT isn't really curved—at least not in the same way your math test in class might be curved.
Instead, your raw score (the number of questions you get right) for each SAT section is equated into a scaled score (between 200 and 800) using a somewhat mysterious process based on the College Board's data and analysis. As a result, you're never directly measured against other students who take the same SAT as you.
If you're definitely planning to take the SAT, check out this full breakdown of the test, learn how to study for the SAT, and get tips on how to find the best official practice materials.
If you're still not sure whether you want to take the SAT or not, try this quiz to see if you might be better at the ACT instead!
What states require the ACT? Check out our full list to learn whether you'll need to take the ACT.
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Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.