Only about 5.5% of women and 4.6% of men that play volleyball at the high school level go on to play in college, and college coaches absolutely take into consideration grades and standardized test scores when recruiting. Therefore scoring high on the SAT or ACT can open up more doors during the recruiting process and help athletes receive more scholarship money. Here’s how to plan for your test.

SAT vs. ACT: Which one? Or both?
Most colleges and universities accept both the SAT and ACT but you should check the schools on your target list to see if they have a preference. The tests are fairly similar in the types of questions, although the SAT is slightly longer and doesn’t include a science section.

The SAT focuses more on vocabulary and general reasoning
The math section of the ACT is more advanced than the SAT. A good way to determine which test you should choose is to take the PSAT and PreACT, which are the respective practice tests for the SAT and ACT.

A timeline for when to take the SAT or ACT
It is preferred that student-athletes take the SAT or ACT earlier in their junior year. Student-athletes who are able to give coaches concrete test scores early on give themselves a leg up in the recruiting process, as it makes it easier for coaches to make decisions on which recruits to follow.

Additionally, many colleges have application deadlines in early November of your senior year, which doesn’t leave much time to submit test scores as a senior. It is also recommended that you retake the SAT or ACT at least once if you’re looking to improve your score. You can take the SAT as many times as you want and the ACT up to 12 times. However, taking it more than three times is not likely to help you.

Make sure to stay up on upcoming SAT test dates and ACT test dates for 2019–20.  

What scores do you need?
A big part of taking and retaking the SAT or ACT is understanding what scores you need to be both eligible and accepted into your school of choice. The NCAA uses a combined SAT test score to determine eligibility. This is the sum of your math plus reading scores. For the ACT, your English, math, reading and science scores are added together to create the ACT sum score. This is different than the composite score that is an average of the four sections.

The NCAA uses the best scores from each section of the ACT and SAT to create your final score, so taking the tests multiple times is to your advantage. According to the College Board, which administers the SAT, more than half of students take the SAT more than once and see an increase in their score. The ACT reports similar findings.

NCAA Division I schools use a sliding scale to determine eligibility. What this means is, the higher your GPA, the lower your test scores can be, and vice versa. See the full sliding scale. For DII, you will need a minimum SAT score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68. Eligibility in the NAIA requires an 18 on the ACT and 860 on the SAT.

But remember that eligibility requirements are much lower than the admission requirements for prestigious colleges.

Final tips for getting high scores

  • Get help with studying. Many high schools offer classes and guidance on SAT or ACT testing. It’s been recommended to spend at least 40 total hours studying for either test. Some student-athletes are able to hire tutors; if that is an option for you, it could be worth it. The Princeton Review also offers free SAT and ACT practice tests.
  • Choose your test date wisely. Try to pick test dates that don’t fall in the busy season of your sport or life. The more things you have on your plate, the less focus you’ll have on testing.
  • Get proper rest. Staying up too late the night before you take the SAT or ACT can affect your outcome. Take care of yourself so you can be in the mindset to excel.

For related reading on the recruiting process click HERE. For more education for volleyball athletes click HERE.

About the Author

Matt Sonnichsen is the Director of Volleyball and National Speaker for Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), the Official Recruiting Services provider of the JVA. NCSA assists JVA Club Directors and Coaches with guiding their athletes through the recruiting process. Matt has over 20 years of experience coaching volleyball at the collegiate level. Read more about NCSA.