Standardized Testing FAQ

Standardized Testing FAQ

Got questions about our standardized testing requirements? We've got answers!

What is Occidental’s philosophy on standardized test scores?

Occidental utilizes a comprehensive review process when considering students for admission. We value academic performance, extracurricular achievement and personal attributes when evaluating first-year and transfer applications.

In our review of your academic record, Occidental places the most emphasis on course rigor and classroom performance. Because Occidental receives applications from students at a wide variety of schools across the United States and around the world, we utilize standardized test scores to give additional context to your classroom performance. We require standardized tests of all applicants, including international students and students who are homeschooled.

Which standardized tests will Occidental accept?

All applicants are required to submit either the SAT I or the ACT. SAT and ACT scores are viewed equally in our process, so students may take either exam and can submit scores from both. For first-year students applying for fall 2017, Occidental will accept scores from either the old SAT or the new redesigned SAT.

SAT II subject tests are not required for admission, but we will consider those scores in our review process.

Does Occidental require the essay portion on the new redesigned SAT?

The essay portion of the new SAT is recommended but not required.

If I choose to take the SAT, which test should I take?

Applicants for Fall 2016 should take the old SAT, as the inaugural administration of the new SAT is not available until March 2016. Applicants for Fall 2017 may take the old SAT before March 2016 and/or the new SAT after March 2016. For the entering class of Fall 2018, all applicants should plan to take the (new) redesigned SAT. If you take both the old and new SAT, please send both scores to Occidental.

What are some differences between the old and new SAT? How can I prepare for the new SAT?

The new SAT is designed to better reflect the knowledge and skills students learn in the classroom. The new SAT will have two 800-point sections: Math, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Additionally, students will no longer be penalized for guessing. The College Board and the Khan Academy have partnered to provide practice tests and personalized study plans for the new SAT, available at These resources are free to all students.

How does Occidental interpret the scores from the new redesigned SAT?

The College Board released concordance tables in spring 2016, which will make it possible to do a score-by-score comparison between the old SAT, new SAT and ACT. The tables are available through the College Board website and as an iPhone/Android app.

Does Occidental “superscore?”

Yes. When reviewing standardized test results, we will always look at you “on your best day,” meaning that we will always look at your best scores on each section of these exams. You should plan to send all scores to Occidental, and we will only look at your best scores when reviewing your academic record. We will always see your highest results on each section of the SAT and ACT.

For students who sit for both the new and old SAT, we will continue to superscore sections within the same version of the test, but we will not superscore sections across the old and new versions. For the ACT, we will always consider your highest scores in each section, but we will not recalculate a new ACT composite score.


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