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The Tests You Need for College: ACT and SAT

What entrance exams do you need to take to get into college? Most colleges or universities, including Saint Louis University, accept the SAT or ACT. Many, SLU included, are now test optional. 

If you choose to take a college admission tests the score it can increase your eligibility for merit scholarships. Here are our answers to the most common questions about college entrance exams.


Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

While many universities will accept scores from either the SAT or ACT, some will only consider one, so start off by checking the admission requirements of the colleges that interest you. If, like at SLU, scores from both college admission exams are accepted, learn a little bit more about each test to see which is best suited to you. 

Can't decide? It is becoming more common to take both the SAT and the ACT, but it is certainly not required. Consider your ability to prepare for tests while balancing your school work and other activities. It may go without saying, but you'll do best on a test you are ready to take.

Where and When Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

College admission exams are usually given early in the morning, so you might want to choose a testing site close to home so you are able to get as much sleep as possible the night before. If your high school offers college admission exam testing, consider taking your SAT or ACT there; you already know how to get there and are familiar with the building, which can take some stress out of test day.

Hint: Your local college or university might also be a test site — SLU is. And as a bonus, taking the test on campus gives you another chance to see what college life is like outside of a campus tour. Find out where you can take the ACT and where you can take the SAT.


College admission exams are typically offered every few months. In order to be considered for scholarships at many colleges and universities, you'll need to apply for admission (and include your SAT or ACT test score) by Dec. 1 of your senior year.

Give yourself enough time to prepare for the test, but don't wait until the last minute in case you want to take the SAT or ACT a second time to try getting a better score. Check out the test requirements of the colleges or universities you're thinking about attending or learn about SLU's application deadlines and admission requirements.

How Should I Prepare for the ACT or SAT?

There are lots of tools to help you with ACT and SAT preparation. Check to see if your high school offers a college admission exam prep course, or talk to your parents about investing in a review course or a tutor. It might also be helpful to take practice tests like the PSAT or PACT first to see which exam suits you best or in which areas of the test you need improvement.

No matter how you decide to prepare, make sure to understand the different parts of the exams and skills they test. Both the ACT and SAT websites offer sample questions.

Are There Any Other Tests I Need to Get into College?

There might be a few extra steps for you if you currently attend high school in a country other than the U.S. Learn about SLU's admission requirements for international students.

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