Do You Need SATs for Community College?
What Are the SATs?
If you are a junior or senior in high school, you've probably heard the terms "SAT" and "ACT." You may even be enrolled in an SAT preparation class. But what exactly do the terms entail, and why would you need to take the exams?
Because high schools across the U.S. have different curricula and offer courses at different levels of difficulty, it's hard for college admissions to compare candidates equally. Therefore, the SATs and ACTs measure your skills, knowledge and college potential on the same playing field for easier comparisons.
The SAT, also known as the Scholastic Assessment Test, is an exam that provides a consistent way for colleges to evaluate prospective students. Instead of measuring your knowledge, the SATs measure your ability in writing, math and critical reading. As a step up from the standard exam, the SAT Subject Test measures your ability in five subjects - English, math, history, science and language.
While some colleges may require the Subject Test, it's important to check each school's requirements. Both exams are multiple choice with a writing section and are offered several times a year.
What Are the ACTs?
While the ACTs are similar to SATs, ACTs measure what you have learned in high school. Most colleges and universities accept scores from the ACT exam, which involves multiple-choice questions in English, reading, math and science. For colleges requiring a writing exam, you can take the ACT Plus Writing test. It's the same as a standard ACT, but with the added element of writing.
If you aren't sure whether to take the SAT, ACT or a more in-depth version, refer to your high school guidance counselor, college adviser or a college's admissions office for more information. All exams require a registration fee, but you may qualify for a fee waiver upon inquisition.
Standards for Taking the SAT Exam
The SAT has four standardized sections including reading, writing, language and math with an optional essay. Each of the four tests measures what you learned in high school and what you need to succeed in college. Multiple-choice questions are one point each, and blank and incorrect answers receive zero points. The report on your final score gives insight into your strengths and weakness. If you didn't do well the first time, don't worry! You can take the SAT two more times if necessary.
Thousands of higher education offices use SAT scores to guide their decision during the college application process.
Community College SAT Requirements
A common question among enrolling students is, "Do community colleges require SAT scores?"
Community colleges usually don't require SAT scores and most have open enrollment, which means they accept anyone who applies with a high school diploma or GED. Instead of requiring you to submit an SAT exam, community colleges may have students take placement tests in English and math to determine their level in each course. However, SAT scores can exempt you from taking the placement tests.
Regardless of whether you plan on taking the SAT or ACT, it's imperative you study for your community college placement test. You will want to set yourself up for success during the next several years at your school. Preparing and doing well will help you avoid taking classes that repeat high school material and that will prepare you for higher level college courses.
Community College ACT Requirements
Similar to the SATs, community colleges do not require ACT scores for incoming students compared to four-year colleges. With open enrollment and placement testing, standardized tests aren't necessary, but they may help you opt out of taking other exams. If your ACT scores are high enough in English and math, you may be exempt from placement testing and be automatically placed.
Placement Testing at NCC
New students attending Northampton Community College take a placement test in English if they are applying to a degree or certificate program. New students are also tested for placement in their appropriate level in English and/or math. We use The College Board ACCUPLACER test, which is computerized and not timed.
The English placement exam features reading and writing content, while math consists of arithmetic, elementary algebra and college-level mathematics questions.
When SATs Are Required
If you are pursuing an associate degree - or in some cases, a bachelor's degree - from a community college, SAT and ACT scores are not required. However, SAT exams are required for the following situations:
- If you plan to transfer to a four-year college.
- If you apply for a specialized program.
- If you pursue an education at a private university.
Studying at a community college and transferring to a four-year college is common. Earning an associate degree from NCC can save you money and help improve your academic record. If you are unsatisfied with your high school grades, you have the opportunity to achieve more satisfactory ones, and from there, you will have more options regarding a four-year college.
Transferring to a four-year college obligates you to check specific admission requirements for each school. In general, the more credits you earn from a community college like NCC, the less likely it is you'll need to submit SAT or ACT scores, especially if you completed an associate degree. But again, be sure to confirm each school's requirements.
Applying for a specialized program at a community college may also involve SAT or ACT scores. For example, nursing, health science, engineering, computer science and law enforcement programs may have selective requirements for entry. And as for private schools, standardized test scores are most likely required for all students, whether you are a high school graduate or transfer student.
While the above examples stay true, it's a recent trend to see four-year colleges de-emphasize standardized tests. During admissions decisions, some schools have an SAT and ACT optional policy, which means it's up to you if you want your scores to reflect your academic ability. It's vital to research requirements of the schools you wish to attend. Although SATs may not be expected, it's still a good idea to take the SAT or ACT exam because of competitive admissions.
What to Do If You've Already Taken the SATs
In the case you have already taken the SAT or ACT exam - or both - it's encouraged you send your test scores to a community college regardless. If you scored high enough in math and English, you might have the opportunity to opt out of taking the placement tests.
Benefits of a Two-Year Associate Degree at NCC
After high school graduation - or if you're an adult, active military member, veteran or re-admitted student - you have the opportunity to pursue a community college education, a bachelor's degree from a four-year college or a certification from a technical school.
If you are unsure of what you want to achieve right off the bat, it's common for students to enroll in a community college for two years. After earning an associate degree, students transfer to a four-year college to receive a bachelor's degree. If you choose this scenario, you can save money at a community college while boosting your academic standing.
At Northampton Community College, students save more than $25,000 each year on tuition when compared to other colleges and universities in the area. Providing our students with the largest private scholarship program of any community college in the Commonwealth, 53% of NCC students receive aid. We award about 600 scholarships each year, which amounts to $46 million total assistance.
Attending NCC also allows you to improve your academic record. We have more than 100 degree and certification programs, along with 10 full-online degree curriculums. Our engaging and collaborative classes help you learn and develop within the subject you're pursuing. Serving more than 30,000 students each year at our three campus locations, NCC offers two-year associate degree programs and provides you the option of transferring to a four-year university.
We are in agreement with more than 100 colleges and universities throughout the state, making a smoother transition for you. About 57% of our students are enrolled in college transfer programs. We also provide students with four-year degree programs delivered at our main campus in Bethlehem by partnering with Bloomsburg and East Stroudsburg University. We are dedicated to helping you transfer your credits and SAT scores to further your education at a four-year college.
Community College Enrollment Process
The typical enrollment process varies among different community colleges, but most follow the procedure below:
- Students fill out an application covering basic information.
- Students send their high school transcripts or GED.
- A possible application fee may be applied.
- Students take placement tests for proper placement.
- Students meet with an advisor to discuss scheduling.
NCC's Enrollment Process
Northampton Community College's enrollment process is open to high school students, veterans, active-duty military personnel, adult learners and recent graduates. We also welcome international students into our programs, and NCC offers dual-enrollment programs for high school students.
Our NCC admission form is fast and easy to complete and requires a $25 fee. The admissions steps are outlined on our website, and while you can apply at any time, we encourage you to be mindful of program deadlines. Fall registration begins in April, and students can also sign up for orientation. If you are thinking about financial aid, start your application early as most programs require you to attach a separate form.
How to Prepare for SAT and ACT Exams
Preparing to take the SAT and ACT exams may not be at the forefront of "fun things to do." Nonetheless, proper preparation and studying are essential to perform well on both tests. Each testing organization offers resources to help students ready themselves. Most students choose to take preliminary exams beforehand, and some opt to take prep classes in high school.
It's important to find a schedule that fits your study habits. What works for your friends and classmates may not always work for you. It's recommended to begin your SAT preparation about three months before taking the exam. You will want to consider study preferences, goals and available resources before delving into the process.
Here is a guide to help prepare you for an SAT or ACT exam.
1. Understand Your Skills: You will want to have a keen sense of what areas you need to focus on. For example, are you stronger at math compared to reading? Or is math your weak point compared to writing? By determining the level of your skills, you will be able to dedicate time to studying your weak points.
2. Take the PSAT: It's recommended to take the practice SAT exam at least twice - one at the beginning and one at the end of your studying period. Because the exam is at least three hours long, you will want to conclude where or when you tend to get tired. It also may be a matter of having a mental block. By practicing, your mind and body can prepare for test day. Strict timing is essential for practice.
3. Become Familiar With SAT Instructions: Trying to read and understand instructions the day of the test will waste your time. Because all SAT exams follow the same procedure, familiarizing yourself with the directions ahead of time will eliminate confusion.
4. Mix up Your Study Techniques: Studying the same way for weeks at a time will not only bore your mind, but it will also lessen your ability to focus. Read different articles, watch an SAT preparation video or study with a friend. Mixing up your study habits by reading articles and essays will help you apply what you've learned from studying. It's important to exercise your brain with different activities that keep you thinking.
5. The Night Before Means All the Difference: While it's cliché to hear the phrase of getting a full eight hours of sleep, it's quite imperative. Making sure you're well-rested and calm before the SAT will keep you focused. In fact, it's often suggested to enjoy a recreational activity beforehand to increase your happiness. Don't study the night before and relax.
6. Be Organized With the Right Materials: Make sure you have everything ready the night before your SAT exam, including a pencil, calculator, valid ID and a printed copy of your SAT registration.
You can never be too prepared for taking the SAT exam. Determine your level of skills and work with a schedule that fits your learning abilities.
Other Preliminary Tests
- While the SATs and ACTs are the most prevalent tests to take before applying to a community or four-year college, other tests exist to help you in preparation. Here is a list to show you several options.
- Preliminary SAT Test: The Preliminary SAT helps you practice for the real SAT exam. Juniors in high school take the PSAT, which measures your skills in reading, math and writing. Taking the review also aids as a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation program.
- Advanced Placement (AP) Test: Already taking AP courses in high school? The Advanced Placement exam can qualify you for college credits or higher placement within particular subjects. Taking an AP test occurs after completing the relevant course in school. Most exams include an essay and multiple-choice questions. For example, if you took an AP English course, the exam may exempt you from taking a college's required English class.
- College-Level Examination Program (CLEP): Not all colleges offer credits, or they may offer different amounts of credits for the CLEP test. By taking it, you can earn college credits in various subjects.
- International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB): The two-year IB curriculum can assist you in earning college credits if you are looking to further your education from high school to college.
SAT Statistics for the 2016-17 Academic Year
Each year, The College Board identifies student participation and performance levels of those who have taken the SAT exam. From the graduating class of 2017, here are the following statistics according to The College Board:
- More than 7.3 million people completed the SAT or PSAT assessment during the 2016-17 year.
- Compared to 2015-16, a 10% increase occurred, accounting for more than 650,000 more participants.
- As the largest group in SAT history, the class of 2017 - more than 1.8 million students - took the old or new SAT exam.
- About 46% of students from the class of 2017 met or exceeded College and Career Readiness Benchmarks, meaning they are ready to take entry-level college courses.
- The mean score of 2017 graduates who took the SAT was 1060.
- About 35% of 2017 graduates who took the PSAT in eleventh grade followed by the SAT increased their scores by 100 points.
- Of those who took the PSAT, 12% were initially off track until after the SAT, when they proved to be college-ready.
All SAT statistics were released in September 2017. You can see an increase in participation compared to previous years and how students are preparing for college courses.
Consider Northampton Community College
Whether you have completed the SAT or ACT exam or not, consider Northampton Community College as you pursue a higher level of education. If you haven't taken either test, you may take a placement test for English and math. If you have taken the SAT exam or meet other criteria, you may be exempt from our testing requirements. With an SAT or ACT score, you also can pursue a four-year college or a private institution after earning an associate degree, or you can apply for an NCC specialized program.
NCC prides itself on offering you a breadth of program options while providing an engaging, collaborative and entrepreneurial environment. Our reputation for extraordinary distinction involves outstanding faculty members, impressive student achievements and innovative programs. We are one of the most affordable colleges in Pennsylvania, and NCC is not short of convenient and top-quality education standards. We provide our students with real-world learning opportunities for a great value along with personal attention.
With a 21:1 student-faculty ratio, Northampton Community College is a place where you can build personal and professional connections with your professors. We are one of the region's top colleges, serving about 30,000 students involved in degree, certificate, workforce training, community education and youth programs.
Learn about Northampton Community College's enrollment process to start your academic success no matter if you have taken the SAT or ACT exams. You can also contact us for more information regarding our programs.