To be eligible to play at the NCAA or NAIA collegiate level of sports your student-athlete will have to have more than athletic skills. Student-athletes will have to meet all academic requirements that each athletic governing body has set forth for all incoming college athletes.
Get familiar with high school core courses. It is also helpful to understand standardized tests like the SAT and ACT and the minimum scores it takes to meet college eligibility requirements.
The Sliding Scale
NCAA Division I and Division II have different testing criterion that must be met by student-athletes in order for them to play college sports. Division I utilizes a “sliding scale”, which means that if a student has a high GPA they can have a lower SAT or ACT test score.
This also works the opposite way–if your child is a great test taker he will still be able to meet eligibility standards with a lower GPA (grade point average cannot be lower than 2.00).
What About Division II?
The NCAA Division II has a different set of standards for academics. Students are required to meet a minimum SAT or ACT score along with a minimum GPA score of 2.00. Students wanting to play in Division II will have to score a minimum of 820 on the SAT. If your child chooses to take the ACT they will need to meet the minimum score of 68.
Which Test is Best for You?
The ACT is an achievement test. It is content-based and measures what a student has learned throughout high school, including English, Math, Reading, Science and Writing. The SAT test is an aptitude test consisting of three components: critical reasoning, math and writing.
The NCAA scores the entire total of the ACT test. If your child chooses to take the SAT then she should know that the NCAA only counts the “critical reading” and “math sections” and discards the total for the “writing section” of the test.
How Much Does it Cost?
It is important to note that your child does not have to take both the ACT and the SAT, but will have to take at least one of the tests to meet academic eligibility for both the NCAA and NAIA. Your child will be able to take each test as many times as she wants. The NCAA will take the highest score of each section from all test attempts.
Keep in mind that each test costs a fee. The SAT is $49 while the ACT will cost $34 per test. For each test you will have to pre-register and pay for specific test dates.
Student-athletes will have to input the NCAA or NAIA score codes when registering for each test in order for the official test scores to be sent directly to each eligibility center. Each test allows for a certain number of free score reports. The NCAA and the NAIA require that scores are sent to them directly from the testing source–they will not accept copies or online printouts.
Make sure your student-athlete enters the specific codes when registering for the test so that they will not have to pay additional fees later when the eligibility center requests test scores. The NCAA test code is 9999 and the NAIA code is 9876.