Athletics News

Shooting For College: SATs, ACTs, and the Aspiring Collegiate Water Polo Player


Oct. 22, 2013

By Angela Kraus

With so many things in life, timing is key.

And how aspiring collegiate water polo players time the completion of their standardized test portfolios (SAT, ACT, and/or SAT subject tests) may open or shut down recruiting opportunities.

To optimize your recruiting chances, it’s critical to determine exactly which tests are required by schools you’re considering and develop a test preparation and testing timeline for the SAT, ACT, and/or SAT subject tests. Planning ahead is crucial.

Most colleges require applicants to take some combination of the SAT, ACT, and/or SAT subject tests. These tests are administered only during the school year. For example, during the 2013-14 academic year, the SAT will be offered monthly from October to June (except February and April); the ACT will be offered monthly from September to June (except November, January, and May).

Conventional wisdom among high school guidance and private college counselors says students should take their first SATs or ACTs in the spring of their junior years. Often students take the SAT or ACT more than once. This means that unless they start early enough during their junior years, students who want to repeat tests may find themselves sitting in a test center in the fall of their senior years…or without results they believe are worthy enough until late fall.

Unfortunately this timeline doesn’t work for many aspiring collegiate water polo players, especially those skilled enough to generate coaches’ interest during the early recruiting cycle (after July 1 preceding senior year and early fall of senior year). In the months leading up to July 1, college coaches finalize their lists of rising seniors they’re serious about recruiting in the early round. Phone calls and home visits are often made as early as July 1, so in order to be competitive, student-athletes should make every effort to have complete academic packets (transcripts through the end of junior year, standardized test scores) ready for coaches by the end of June.

The earlier this information is in coaches’ hands, the sooner they can determine if the student-athletes are likely to meet the schools’ academic profiles and seriously pursue the candidates. This is especially important for schools that offer early athletic reads, early action, or early application-decision cycles. Without this information, an athlete is an “incomplete candidate.” It’s extremely frustrating for coaches and athletes alike if incomplete academic information prevents the recruiting process from progressing. In order to avoid missing out on other good prospects, a coach—rather than wait for the next round of test results—may decide to move forward with other student-athletes with complete packets. The student-athlete who fails to plan his or her testing schedule or who procrastinates taking tests may actually miss recruiting opportunities.

When should these tests be taken? Ideally SAT or ACT testing should be completed by April of the student-athlete’s junior year. Subject tests should be taken in June of the year the course is completed (e.g., the U.S. History subject test should be taken in June of the junior year; Math Level 2 after completing Trig/Pre-Calc). Working backward—and allowing for repeat sittings—first attempts at the SAT or ACT should occur in the fall or winter of the junior year.

Students should allow 8 to 10 weeks for test preparation leading up to the first test sitting and continue with practice sections and tests between each test date. When calculating the testing timeline, remember that spring is a busy time of year, especially for students taking AP tests during their nationwide administration during the first two weeks of May and subject tests in June.

For the aforementioned reasons, taking the SAT or ACT for the first time in the spring of the student-athlete’s junior year can create recruiting problems. But developing and sticking to a testing schedule along the lines discussed here will enable aspiring collegiate water polo players to offer complete academic information when requested by coaches—and position them to make the most of potential recruiting opportunities. 

This article appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of SkipShot Magazine 

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