It seems like congratulations are in order! You have been working on your highlight film, improving your stats with every game, and are preparing to sign your national letter of intent to become a college athlete. The endless hours of practice have paid off and you are finally on your way to play at the collegiate level. Although you may be comfortable with your athletic qualifications, you may be wondering what type of academic qualifications and student athlete ACT and SAT requirements will be necessary to play at the next level.
While they may not seem as important as stats such as RBIs or assisted tackles, academic profiles are just as important no matter what sport you intend to compete in. In fact, many aspiring student athletes forfeit their ability to play in college programs by not preparing academically.
There are two types of academic eligibility requirements you should familiarize yourself with while considering your college options:
- First, there are specific guidelines set by the NCAA to determine whether or not an athlete is eligible to compete.
- Additionally, each secondary institution develops their own standards for admission for their programs.
The guidelines below should help you navigate the academic uncertainties for competing in a DI, DII, or DIII college program.
Requirements Set by the NCAA
The NCAA provides specific guidelines for the necessary GPA and standardized test scores to become a college athlete.
The GPA requirement is based solely on core courses such as English, mathematics, and science. The core course GPA required is 2.30 for DI schools and 2.20 for DII schools. Further information on how to calculate your core course GPA can be found here.
The standard SAT requirement is 980 for DI schools and 920 for DII schools. The ACT requirement, however, is not based on the composite score as you would typically expect with requirement standards. It is instead based on a summation of all section scores, with a 75 required for DI schools (equivalent to a 19 on the test) and a 70 required for DII schools (equivalent to an 18).
The NCAA also allows “super scoring” if you decide to take the ACT or SAT multiple times. This means that they will use your highest individual section scores regardless of the test date to calculate your total score.
Academic eligibility is not checked by the NCAA for DIII schools, so you will need to check each program’s individual requirements to ensure you meet the necessary criteria.
The NCAA Sliding Scale
So what happens if you don’t meet the basic student athlete ACT and SAT requirements provided by the NCAA? Is it still possible to compete in college athletics? The good news is that the NCAA has implemented a sliding scale (see tables below), which allows lower standardized test scores to be compensated by higher GPAs. For example, a GPA of 3.55 or higher requires only a 400 on the SAT or an ACT sum of 37 for DI qualification.
Academic Redshirting and Partial Qualifications
There is also an option for academic redshirting for DI schools if your GPA falls below the requirement of 2.3. This means that you can receive athletic scholarships and practice with the team, but you will not be allowed to compete during the first year of enrollment. In order to qualify as an academic redshirt, you must meet the standardized test score correlating with your GPA. Similarly, partial qualifications are available for students wishing to compete at the DII level. This works the same as academic redshirting, and allows lower GPA requirements for correlating standardized test scores than the full qualification.
Submitting your ACT and SAT Scores to the NCAA
Sending your scores to the NCAA is a vital step in ensuring that you are able to play college sports. When preparing to send in your scores (more information on sending ACT scores here and SAT scores here), you will need to use the code “9999” in the college identifier section. This allows your scores to be directly sent to the NCAA to confirm academic qualification.
Qualifying for College Admissions
It should be noted that qualifying through the NCAA does not guarantee the ability to participate in all college athletics programs as every college has unique admission requirements.
Be sure to research specific school requirements as you are considering the options available. Many schools have what is referred to as special admission processes for athletics. The process is especially used for highly recruited athletes, and players can still qualify for admission with a lower test score than the average for standard admissions. This is not true for all schools, so it is important to discuss academics with a program representative as early as possible during the admissions process.
Additionally, standardized testing requirements are typically much more rigid if you plan to participate in a program as a “walk on” athlete. If you are unable to qualify to play at a four-year university, junior colleges could serve as a secondary option as they have an open enrollment process and usually do not require ACT or SAT scores.
While it is difficult to give a concrete goal score for college athletes, a score of 24 for the ACT or 1200 for the SAT will put you in a good position for many schools. This places you in the 75th percentile for all test takers and is a satisfactory score for most programs. There are exceptions (Ivy League for example), but this is a good starting point for the majority of athletic programs.
If you have a school that you have always dreamed of playing for, it is highly recommended that you consult with admissions advisors sooner rather than later to minimize surprises down the road.
Pursuing college athletics is a challenging road without the added pressure of worrying about college admissions. It is important to prepare early for your ACT/SAT to mitigate some of the stress that comes with selecting a program. This includes calculating your NCAA required test score, researching student athlete ACT and SAT requirements for the programs you are interested in, and begin testing by your junior year of high school. These steps will help you gauge what your goal test score should be in order to become one of the 7% of high school athletes to play at the college level.
Now that you’re armed with all this information about the ACT and SAT requirements for student athletes, it’s time to focus on improving your scores. A great way to start this is to schedule a free score consultation call with one of Testive’s student success advisors!