Academic Tests For International Tennis Prospects

by Dominic Tinodi

If you're an American junior tennis player you are most of the times a student at high school and thus pretty well-informed about the way it works prior to enrolling at college. For Internationals this is a whole different story and very few if any are overly familiar with the academic test score requirements. Let's shed some light on SAT, ACT, TOEFL, and IELTS requirements and especially about when to take the tests in order to find an athletic scholarship on time in this edition of our Friday Scholarship Guide.

Photo credit: Dominic Tinodi

For starters, every junior tennis player who aspires to play college tennis (prospective student athlete) needs to register with the respective Eligibility Center (NCAA Division 1, 2, and NAIA) in order to fulfil the respective academic and athletic requirements. For these divisions, you need to submit either SAT or ACT scores.

Say, you are eligible and coaches show some serious interest in you. Before any coach can make you a scholarship offer, he/she also needs to be certain you will be accepted by the university's undergraduate admissions. Although there are differences in colleges' particular freshmen admission requirements, SAT or ACT scores are generally one element of the application material.

Apart from these requirements which apply to all students, Internationals are typically also required to submit TOEFL or IELTS results. Note however that these two scores are not accepted by NCAA and NAIA and thus not necessary to take for eligibility reasons.

So far, so good. As an international tennis player looking for a scholarship in college, you need to:

  • Take the SAT test or the ACT test
  • Take the TOEFL or the IELTS
And most important, you really want to do so on time.

Timing is key when it comes to the entire recruiting process and depending on the test, there are fewer or more test dates available globally.
For the purpose of this article, we will assume that a prospect will seek to start at college in the fall semester of any year, which is when most kids start their college experience:

Academic Tests for NCAA/NAIA Eligibility & Undergraduate Admissions

Before we give you our recommendation on when to take the test, let's have a look at SAT and ACT separately:

SAT

There are only 4 official test dates for international students throughout the year. Consequently, taking the SAT test should be well-planned, given that you might have other important finals in high school and that the evaluation of your tests takes a while. Some people also prefer to retake the SAT, depending on their achieved scores on the first try.
For the school years 2017-18 and 2018-19, test dates are offered in October, December, March, and May.
We are often asked whether you should choose the SAT with essay or without. While the essay is not being used by the NCAA/NAIA, some schools' admissions offices require you submit SAT with essay scores and it would be too bad would you have to retake the entire test, just because you didn't want to write the additional essay the first time. We therefore recommend you add the essay which costs slightly more, but which could also save you quite some time and money going forward.

ACT

There are a total of 5 official test dates for international students throughout the year, making the ACT somewhat attractive depending on your level of stress in school or other sports-related commitments.
Again however, taking the ACT should be well-planned, given its importance and the few test dates each year.
For the upcoming school year 2017-18, tests are offered in September, October, December, April, and June.
Similar to the SAT, we sometimes get questions from Internationals wondering whether they should choose the ACT with Writing. Our answer is the same: yes, you should!



Depending on where you are from, it's a really good idea to check well ahead whether the tests are offered in your city and with some exceptions, maybe even country.
Given the complexities of your recruiting process, we recommend you take one of the two tests as soon as possible, but latest in the spring months the year before your initial enrolment at college (your junior year in high school ).
Let's have an example: you are looking for a scholarship to start in the fall semester of 2019. We recommend you take either SAT or ACT latest in June 2018; more than 12 months before your planned start.
American students usually consider taking these tests a lot earlier, as they naturally decide much earlier than Internationals that they will study at a college in the US. In case you are fully committed to studying in the US already at a younger age, there's absolutely nothing wrong with taking the test earlier than that!
In case you take the ACT in June (our latest recommended date), you will have the scores a few weeks later in the end of June/beginning of July. With the scores being sent to the NCAA and/or NAIA (if you arranged for that), NCAA and NAIA will process your scores in the summer months. The final important time to keep in mind is the Early Signing Period in November, which is a period of one week, during which recruits sign with schools and lots of scholarships are given away.

Academic Tests for International Students for Admissions Offices

TOEFL

Different from above two tests, the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) is offered lots of times throughout the year, which makes the planning somewhat easier and less complex:

  • The test scores are needed later, as they are not used by the NCAA/NAIA and don't determine your eligibility
  • Most of the time you will not apply to colleges, before you are in more concrete talks with coaches
  • However don't delay taking the test too long. A high TOEFL score can open many doors and is a very good indicator for coaches who check out your profile

IELTS

The International English Language Testing System is often accepted by colleges. Similar to the TOEFL, there's a great number of test dates available.

Given you don't need the scores of TOEFL or IELTS as early, we generally suggest you aim to take the test in the summer months between your junior and senior year.
Again, say, you want to start studying on a scholarship in the Fall of 2019, pick a test date in a city close to where you live in July or August 2018.

Keep in mind that SAT and/or ACT scores are key to get permission to compete and that your test scores are an important piece of your college application material; hence, your attractiveness. For those of you hoping to get an even better scholarship offer, check out this article: "2 Academic Focus Areas For Tennis Recruits to Boost Their Chances"

We always urge our players to get started with the process as early as possible. As a user on Smarthlete with a recruiting profile (Free and Premium), we make sure you stay up to date with your to-do list, by sending you email reminders, which is based on your progress. Get started right away and register with your free Smarthlete Recruiting Profile!
Drop us an email (contact@smarthlete.com) in case you have any questions about any of the tests in your home country! We are happy to make sure you're on track ... :)

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