Taking the SAT or ACT as an Adult
Taking the SAT or ACT as an Adult
Constantine Pankin / Shutterstock.com

If you are applying to college as an adult, you may be concerned about admissions requirements. Will you have to submit SAT or ACT scores like high school applicants do? Usually you will not have to submit standardized test scores, particularly if you can show that you’ve had some postsecondary experience. This isn’t a universal rule, though, and depending on the school, you may have to send in your old scores or sit for the test if you never did. Here are the answers to some common questions.

Do adults have to take the SAT or ACT?

In many cases, you will not. The majority of colleges waive standardized test score submission for individuals over the age of 25. However, it’s important to research admissions requirements for each school to which you plan to apply. Contact an admissions counselor if you cannot find the information you need posted online. If you want to apply for institutional grants or scholarships, make sure to research their qualifications as well. Some schools that do not need SAT or ACT scores for adult admissions will require them for school-based financial aid. You may also find that when you are applying for private scholarships, the application requires you to submit your standardized test scores.

Am I required to submit SAT or ACT scores if I have some college credits?

If you have some college credits and wish to put them toward a degree at a different institution than where you started, you will be considered a transfer student. Research transfer student admissions requirements to determine if SAT or ACT scores are necessary. Generally, adult transfer students will not need to submit their standardized test scores, but if you are unsure, contact an admissions counselor at each school to which you plan to apply.

Will I take the SAT or ACT with high school students?

If you decide to register for the SAT or ACT, you will take the test at a location with high school students. While it may feel weird to take a test with high school students, you will have little to no contact with your fellow test takers. In some cases, you may be assigned a testing room with other adult test takers or given a seat next to other adults in a room with high schoolers. These accommodations are not guaranteed.

Can I submit my old scores?

SAT and ACT scores do not expire. However, SAT tests that are more than five years old are sent with a supporting document explaining that the scores may no longer be valid due to the age of the test, especially since both tests undergo renewal and changes with relative frequency. You may request an archived SAT score report over the phone or by mail; the cost is $31.00 plus the cost of the score report.

All ACT score reports from October 1, 1966, are accessible, but score reports from before September 1, 2016, have been archived. To send an old ACT score report (from a test taken prior to September 1, 2016), you will have to pay $38.00—which is the $13 report fee plus a $25 archive fee. You can order your score report by mail or online through your ACT account.

If you know that test scores are required for admission, be sure that you contact an admissions representative at your prospective institution to determine if an old score will be acceptable to the admissions committee before you order an archived report. If not, you may be stuck having to retake either the SAT or ACT.

My employer asked for my ACT/SAT score. Is that common?

Some law firms, tutoring companies, banks, and other prestigious institutions will use applicants’ SAT or ACT scores as a supplementary means of evaluation when they are making a hiring decision. This is especially true in cases where you don’t have much work experience. While these scores may be easy to provide for recent college graduates, it is a hassle for adults who haven’t thought about standardized tests for decades. If your scores on the SAT or ACT are low and out-of-date, you will probably not be immediately disqualified for hire, but your résumé, cover letter, and interview should pick up the slack and prove that you have what it takes to succeed in the job.

I’ve been in the military and have no experience with standardized testing. Are there any special programs for service members or veterans?

Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support (DANTES) is a Department of Defense-funded program that aims to help service members in all branches of the military reach their educational goals. To qualify for funding for college entrance exams, you must have a valid, non-expired Common Access Card, and still be serving with the military at present. Instead of taking the SAT or ACT at a standard testing center, service members with DANTES funding must take their tests at a DANTES Test Site.

For military veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may cover some of the costs associated with taking college entrance exams through the National Testing Program. Students must be eligible for GI Bill benefits. The amount of money for which you are eligible through the GI Bill will decrease with each test that you choose to take. There is no limit to the number of tests that you can take, and you may be reimbursed for the registration fee if you choose to retake a test, provided you still have GI Bill money remaining. You will not be reimbursed for optional costs (e.g., rush score reports or test preparation materials).

Page last updated: 12/2018