I don’t want to waste your time, so let me state some facts, answer a few common questions, and let you – the parent – make the right decision for your family. 


  • About 97% of four-year colleges in the United States have a test optional admissions policy. 
  • “Test optional” means you choose whether or not to submit an ACT or SAT score. 
  • If you choose not to submit it, it won’t hurt your chances – but submitting a strong score can help.
  • Here are the three main reasons why students prep for the ACT: 
    1. Higher scores mean better chances of admission;
    2. A strong score gives you an edge at highly selective colleges and in competitive “direct admit” programs such as business and engineering; 
    3. Points pay you back. Many colleges continue to award merit scholarships based on GPA and ACT/SAT. 

Q: How do I know if I should or should not submit my score? 

  • Don’t automatically share your scores by listing colleges when you register for the ACT. Colleges only see what you send them, and that can and should be done only after you’re certain you are done testing. Summer before senior year is early enough. 
  • Check the undergraduate admissions page or call to verify each college’s policy, and to see whether any of your colleges allow “super scores”, i.e. a combination of your highest section scores from any test dates. Most do not. 
  • Submit scores in the top half of the middle 50% ACT range. EX: If the middle 50% range is 28 to 32, submit a 30 or higher because the range represents the 25th to 75th percentiles of admitted students. In this case, a 28 means you’re below 75% of accepted students. That does not help your application. 

Q: My student has never been a good test taker. Is it even possible to raise the score? 

Yes, but like everything else she/he/they have ever done, it will take practice and energy. Most students we meet don’t think of themselves as good test takers, but nearly 100% improve their score and the average gain is 4 points. (BTW, that young man hitting the books is Jackson. He went up 8 points and his sister boosted her score by 5.) You can get better at anything if you practice, put forth your best effort and have solid direction. 

Q: What’s the best way to prep? 

The best approach is the one that meets your student’s goals, your budget, and gets buy-in from your student. That might mean a book and some self-study, an online course, or working one-on-one with a coach. You know your student best. 

Q: If my student is taking the state-mandated ACT exam on March 8th, when is the best time to begin preparing? 

You can’t cram for the ACT. A disciplined, self-starter can see good results starting 30 days prior and dedicating 3-5 hours per week. Our students start in late December or early January and meet with their coach for six to ten one-on-one coaching sessions over a 60 day period, completing an additional 3-4 hours of targeted assignments between sessions.

We’re offering a free full-length practice ACT on Tuesday, December 28th from 2:00-5:30 p.m. Scores will be emailed within 24 hours or you can schedule a free consult to sit down and review the test and discuss options. Schedule a Free Practice Exam now and use the same link for a Free Consult. 

Read more about how we help students reach their highest scores.