Academics play a huge role in the college golf recruiting process because you’re looking to play golf at, well, a school. Ensuring you’re in a good place academically will help the recruiting process go more smoothly.

Having the proper academic requirements in place increases your chance of not only playing at the collegiate level, but also receiving more golf scholarship money when your GPA and standardized test scores are higher than average. Junior Golf Hub is here to help you navigate this part of the recruitment process.

Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are an easy way for college coaches to gauge your academic standing. While COVID-19 has changed the process for college recruits looking to enroll in NCAA Division 1 and 2 schools for the 2021-2022 or 2022-2023 academic years, colleges in general are still requiring standardized tests for admission. Be sure to keep up with the NCAA’s updates concerning eligibility.

Despite the COVID-19 extension, having standardized test scores can help you get on college coaches’ radars early in the process. College coaches love to see strong academics because it makes their jobs easier when it comes to the admissions process.

College Golfers: Do I Take the SAT or ACT?

When it comes to choosing which standardized test to take, there are plenty of variables to consider. You’ll want to note timing, minimum scores and personal strengths.

Take the SAT and/or ACT Early

Whichever test you choose, Junior Golf Hub recommends taking these tests as early as freshman or sophomore year, whether officially or with at-home practice tests. Not only will you get a good feel for which one plays to your strengths, but you’ll also get a better idea of where you stand with the schools you’re hoping to talk to.

By taking the SAT and/or ACT early, you’ll also be able to properly prepare for taking the test your junior or senior year, whether that includes tutoring or more at-home practice tests. When the preparation starts early enough, the SAT or ACT scores can have a positive impact on your recruiting success.

Student-Athlete Minimum SAT and ACT Scores

The standardized test scores you want to aim for depend on your GPA thanks to the NCAA sliding scale. By finding your GPA on the NCAA sliding scale, you can determine the minimum SAT or ACT score you need to be eligible for the college golf recruiting process. The scale works in reverse as well if you start with an SAT or ACT score.

The point of the NCAA sliding scale is to give student-athletes a break between acing both their studies and standardized tests on top of competing at such a high level and the travel and recruitment time involved. This method gives student-athletes the opportunity to shine wherever their strengths lie, whether it’s in school or on standardized testing.

While the NCAA has dropped their standardized testing requirements during their COVID-19 extension, you still need to meet the GPA requirement and it’s prudent to prepare for and take standardized tests despite the current circumstances.

Each NCAA division has the same minimum requirements for eligibility in the academic arena for men’s golf programs and women’s golf programs. Division 1 schools require a minimum 2.3 GPA after completing at least 16 core courses; on the scale, someone with this GPA would need at least a 980 on the SAT or 75 on the ACT to be eligible.

Division 2 schools require the same number of core classes and a minimum 2.2 GPA, whose counterpart would have to be at least a 920 on the SAT or 70 or higher on the ACT to be eligible for recruitment. Division 3 schools have a different system where each institution has its own academic requirements that need to be fully researched and discussed.

Personal Strengths on Standardized Tests

Now that you have a better idea of where you need to be in order to be eligible for college golf, it’s important to figure out which standardized test is better for you. Be sure to check your high school and college’s requirements in case a certain test is required.


The SAT is a three-hour test that involves reading, writing and language, and math sections. Your score can range from 400 to 1600. If you like having more time to think through questions, the SAT could be the test for you as the total timing is similar to the ACT but there are fewer total questions.

However, if you would rather use your calculator for the entire math section, the ACT may be a better choice as the SAT has two math sections, one with and one without a calculator. Plus, there is a smaller emphasis on math on the ACT, allowing your reading and English sections to shine.

On the flip side, if you like the idea of chronological reading questions from a strategy standpoint, the SAT follows that logic while the ACT reading questions are ordered randomly.

By taking practice tests and doing some prep work, you’ll be able to feel out if the SAT is the right test for you.


The ACT is slightly longer than the SAT, with the optional writing section bringing the total time to three hours and thirty-five minutes. This test includes a reading, English, math and science portion.

Your score can range from 1 to 36 (each section’s score is added together for the cumulative minimums on the NCAA sliding scale you saw above). If you take the ACT more than once, the NCAA will accept the highest section scores from all the tests you take. For example, you can take your reading score from the first test and your science score from the second test to calculate a higher cumulative score.

If you would like to highlight your science score and/or feel comfortable with geometry, the ACT may be the better test as colleges rarely look at the SAT science subscores and the SAT focuses mainly on algebra. Similarly, if you’d like to showcase your writing, the ACT is the only standardized test with an essay section now.

There are pros and cons to each standardized test. The best place to start is taking a practice test of each and seeing which one you feel most comfortable with and which one you can see improving more on in the next year or two. Preparing for these tests is a marathon, not a sprint, and your teachers, prep books and online tools are great resources for ensuring you hit the minimum score requirements.