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SAT and ACT Information

SAT and ACT Overview

The SAT and ACT are standardized tests that have historically played a significant role in the admission process at many colleges.

In the last couple of years, the testing landscape has changed drastically. Largely in response to the pandemic, the majority of colleges have stopped requiring students to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of the application process, although there are exceptions. Many colleges are now test optional while others, including the UC's and the CSU's, are test blind. 

Check the website of each college where you're applying to determine their testing policy. Keep in mind that some schools that don't consider test scores when making admission decisions may use scores for awarding merit scholarships and/or for class placement. Students planning to attend community college do not need to take the SAT or ACT.

Helpful Links

UC Testing Policy

CSU Testing Policy

Definitions: Test Optional, Test Blind and Test Flexible

List of Test Optional and Test Blind Colleges

Sat vs ACT

Although there are many similarities between the SAT and ACT, there are also key differences that may help you decide which test is the best fit for you. It is often reccomended that students take practice tests for both exams and then choose one to focus on moving forward. 

Helpful Links

SAT vs ACT: Key Differences Between the Tests

SAT vs ACT: Which test should you take?

Free SAT Test Prep and Practice Test

Free ACT Test Prep and Practice

Test SAT/ACT Score Conversion Chart

Fee Waivers

Low income students who plan to take the SAT and/or ACT may qualify for a fee waiver. Students must meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • You are enrolled in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program.
  • Your family's annual income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • You are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or are homeless.
  • You are a ward of the state or an orphan.

Please reach out to Ms. Handel at or stop by room A1 to request a fee waiver. 


The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is usually offered at Maria Carrillo on a Saturday in October. This is primarily a test for 11th graders to help them prepare for the SAT. Students can also qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program as well as other scholarships. If there are seats available, 10th graders may also have the opportunity to register on a first come, first served basis.

Information about the 2022 test will be available in September. 

Additional PSAT Information