Monday, February 19, 2024

What Colleges Are Test Optional

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The Test Optional Movement: Should Colleges Require Standardized Test Scores?

Test-optional will always mean test-preferred, despite universities trying to score cheap equity points.

Its all too easy for a university to claim that test-optional increases access and opportunity in admissions. One way this is playing out is the move of many schools to become test-optional, with more than 600 schools going this route for the 2020-21 application season.

This looks like good news: More universities are honoring that a large percentage of applicants dont have the resources to take and retake standardized tests. Never mind a Stanford study that found that admissions officers respond more favorably to essays by students from wealthier households exposing that socioeconomic status influences all elements of college admissions, not just test scores.

» READ MORE: With testing requirements relaxed, applications soar at selective colleges

Yet, adopting a test-optional policy is an easy way for a college to claim equitable admissions practices while maintaining the status quo. The numbers tell the story. As colleges disclose their admissions for the Class of 2025, the data show that applicants who submit standardized test scores have a leg up. For example, Georgetown only admitted 7.34% of early applicants who did not have test scores for the University of Pennsylvania, the percentage was higher but still overall low.

» READ MORE: Haverford College scraps standardized test requirement amid pandemic

What Is Test Flexible

While a test-flexible policy requires you to send test scores, it might allow for different options in place of the SAT. For example, some schools might waive their test requirements if you meet a minimum GPA or are applying to a specific program, while others might let you send AP scores or IB scores in lieu of SAT scores.

The rationale is that these scores can demonstrate subject mastery and therefore reveal your own particular academic interests and motivations.

NYU’s test-flexible policy, for example, states the following:

  • Three IB higher-level exam scores if not an IB Diploma candidate
  • Certain international qualifications that shows you completed your secondary education.”

Because the specifics of test-flexible policies can vary from school to school, you should check with your colleges of interest to make sure you’re fulfilling the application requirements. This info should be available on each school’s website, but if not, definitely call and speak to an admissions officer directly.

You’ll not only get the info you need but also demonstrate your interest and a proactive approach to the college, which could ultimately help you stand out from other applicants.

Some highly ranked test-flexible schools include the following:

  • Brandeis University
  • Colby College

As you can see, schools have different approaches to SAT scores and how much they weigh into your application .

What About Sat Subject Tests

If youre planning on applying to a top 20 liberal arts college or university, you might benefit from sending outstanding scores on 2-3 SAT Subject Tests.

However, they are absolutely not necessary most top colleges are test-optional this year, and the Subject Tests have become less important to the admissions process over time. In fact, some schools, such as Amherst and Yale, will not even review Subject Test scores for the 2020-2021 cycle, even if you have them.

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While Our Policy Has Long Been That Sat Subject Tests Are Recommended But Not Required Now Seems The Appropriate Time To Reiterate That Applicants Who Do Not Submit Subject Tests Will Not Be Disadvantaged In Our Process Richardson Explained Sat Or Act Test Scores Are Only One Part Of Our Holistic Review

In other words, since students now have the choice of whether to submit their test scores and decide if their results accurately reflect their academic abilities, admissions teams will have to evaluate applicants in different ways, ways that will veer them toward the holistic review Richardson mentioned.

Above all, now is a time like never before for colleges to truly consider all of the attributes that a student has to offer notably, those outside of a test-taking capacity.

Williams College, which was deemed the nations top liberal arts college by the U.S. News & World Report, declared itself an SAT and ACT-optional college for the next two years, and it seems as if many will continue to join this list or even go one step further.

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Similar to that of the University of California system, Rhodes College in Tennessee has announced that it will remain test-optional for the next three years as part of a pilot program. Following this period, Rhodes College has said that it will reevaluate its testing requirements.

It goes without saying that test scores arent the only thing that universities look for during the admissions process however, they have traditionally played a significant role in determining which applicants are above average and, therefore, should be offered a place at some of the countrys most renowned schools.

Why Do We Take The Sat/act

Colleges and Universities That are Test

Without it, many students albeit, those with a long list of impressive skills, talents, and achievements to their name find that their dream school is simply out of reach.

Indeed, I found myself in this exact situation after repeatedly earning the same test score, one that I was told wasnt good enough to even get my application read by some of the selective colleges that I aspired to attend.

The very fact that so much namely, a young persons entire future can ride on a single test raises questions about the way in which higher education in the U.S. operates.

It suggests that some kind of reform is needed, or is at least a possibility.

Indeed, while some schools or parents may be in the position to offer extra tutoring to students in preparation for the tests, many are not afforded this luxury.

In addition to this, simply sitting the SAT/ACT can be a financial hardship for students living in financial precarity or for those coming from low-income households.

Nowadays, the cost of standardized testing ranges anywhere from $50 to $70.

Therefore, as long as students access to test preparation and the test-taking itself remains unequal, should the SAT or ACT continue to play such an integral role in the college admissions process?

Especially when most of us will never even be asked about these scores beyond this period of our lives?

This left many students struggling to keep up with their school work never mind the ability to perfect their SAT or ACT test score.

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There Are Different Types Of Test

A test-optional college lets students decide whether they want to submit test scores with their application. Most test-optional schools will consider SAT and ACT scores if they are submitted, but focus on other factors they believe are stronger predictors of a students potential to succeed in college. These schools look at a students essays, recommendations, grades, and coursework just as closely than your test scores.

A test-flexible college lets students submit other test scores in place of the SAT or ACT, such as one or more SAT Subject Tests, an International Baccalaureate exam, or Advanced Placement test.

A test-blind college will not consider test scores, even if you submit them.

No Act Or Sat Required

The College of Idaho’s admission process is test-optional. This means that you can choose whether or not you submit a SAT or ACT score.

We strongly believe that by allowing you to decide how best to present your academic potential, the College is also giving you the opportunity to take the first steps in taking ownership of your college education. All students are given equal consideration, regardless of whether or not they submit standardized test scores.

If you choose not to submit a SAT or ACT score, you will be required to submit additional materials in order to be considered for admission under our test-optional process.

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What Will The Next Application Cycle Look Like

Nobody knows for sure. But expect many universities to make AP and subject test scores not required. And we wouldnt be surprised if SAT and ACT were optional at many schools.

The silver lining is that you are in control of your own application. If you believe a standardized test will make your application shine, or you have the time and potential to prep yourself to a better score, we encourage you to take the SAT or ACT. But if you are not a strong test taker, then chill out and focus on your essays and other aspects of your application.

Things To Know Before Applying To A Test

Test Optional College Admissions: Should You Still Take the ACT or SAT? – ACT/SAT Test Tips

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More than 1,200 U.S. colleges are test-optional, meaning the college doesn’t require test scores, at least not from most students.

Because many SAT and ACT testing dates have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some colleges have adopted test-optional or test-flexible policies or plan to de-emphasize standardized test scores when reviewing undergraduate applications this fall. These colleges include the entire University of California system, Williams College, USC, and Tufts University, to name a few. The shift to test-optional admissions may be permanent at some colleges and temporary at others.

If you are not a great test-taker or think your test scores dont accurately reflect your abilities as a student, you might consider applying to test-optional schools. Here are four things to know before you take that step.

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Submitting Your Score Shows Admissions Officers The Fullest Picture

Schools will know what testing options are or were available to students, even if this varies by state. In other words, lets say two students from the same school apply to the same college. One applies with a test score but the other student does notwho do you think will have a more complete application? The one student is simply providing yet another piece of information for admissions officers to consider, even if this information is not required. In submitting a test score, the student is providing a more complete picture of their academic abilities.

Is Your Sat Score Enough To Get You Into Your Dream School

Our free chancing engine takes into consideration your SAT score, in addition to other profile factors, such as GPA and extracurriculars. Create a free account to discover your chances at hundreds of different schools.

In the past year, guidance on submitting standardized test scores to universities has changed dramatically. You may have heard that some schools have become test-optional or test blind. In this post, well give you all the latest information on what that means, which schools have become test-optional, whether you should report your scores for the SAT or ACT, and how this changes your strategy for applying to college.

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California Institute Of Technology

Pasadena, California

The traditional admission process at Caltech involves the submission of ACT and SAT scores. You will only be eligible if you can reach their test score requirement. But forget this now, because they finally released a change of their admissions requirement in June 2020, stating that they will now be enacting a two-year moratorium to consider and require the ACT and SAT scores as part of the admission process. So, starting the Fall of 2021 and 2022, you can be admitted to Caltech despite not taking the standardized tests.

Instead of basing the decision of admitting deserving students to Caltech, the Admissions Committee decided to evaluate the students academic preparedness through other requirements. You may check it beforehand, so you can understand whats in it for you when you finally join the Caltech curriculum.

California Institute of Technology is considered as a small institution located in Pasadena, California. Their acceptance rate is 7%, while their graduating percentage is 92%. They have the best quality curriculums in the fields of Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science. Students in this learning institution can participate and join research projects in the early stage to take part in such opportunities, enrolling at Caltech.

Act Or Sat Scores And Scholarships

Colleges Going Test

Additionally, if you are applying for scholarships, they will likely still have testing requirements. Scholarships need a variety of quantitative data data that is objective to verify that scholarship recipients are meeting minimum requirements. Choosing not to take the ACT or SAT when you have the opportunity to could make these scholarship opportunities unavailable to you.

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How Do I Know If Applying Test

The decision to apply test-optional is a personal and individual decision. If you are satisfied with your test scores and believe they are indicative of your academic potential, then feel free to submit them with your other credentials. If you have a strong academic record but do not feel your test results are a good indicator of your academic potential you can choose not to submit them, and instead submit answers to the essay questions.

Every applicant presents a unique combination of credentials. Your grades, curriculum strength, test scores, recommendations, out-of-class experiences, personal character and integrity combined are what is considered by the admission committee. Generally speaking, weakness in one area can be compensated for by strength in another.

The admission committee provides a comprehensive and holistic review of each application, meaning that there is no one element that guarantees admission. Feel free to contact your admission counselor if you would like to have a personal conversation about testing.

The College of Idaho will carefully observe this decision over the next four years. For this reason, and because standardized tests may be used as a foundation for class placement, all entering students will be asked to submit their scores, even if they are admitted through test-optional means.

Test Optional College Admissions


Standardized Testing- SAT, ACT, PSAT, & AP exams ?!! College Admissions & College Applications Help

Ill also take a moment to answer two pressing questions about the SAT/ACT I know are on the minds of many seniors and even juniors

Do I need to wait to submit my Common Application until after I take or submit my fall SAT/ACT exam scores?

Pre-COVIDPost-COVIDUniversity of Florida Princeton, Emory Students can and should submit completed college applications even if you anticipate taking late fall examstheres a specific question asking if you want to report your scores? SAT vs. ACT Which is Preferred? *** If a university requires an exam score as part of the college application process- either format is an acceptable one. The differences however are significant and student preferences should prevail. When should you begin exam prep? If youve completed Alegebra II you have covered all the math that will be on the SAT/ACT if not, you need to wait until the end of the Junior year/start of Senior Year to begin testing. Please do NOT take an exam covering materials you havent yet learned fulled whats the point? Some universities do NOT participate in SCORE CHOICE and all scores are required- practice tests should be completed at home or with your tutor- not in a real setting!

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Will I Have An Advantage With Act / Sat Scores

Yes! From the 2021 admissions results, weve seen those who submitted test scores have a higher acceptance rate than those who did not. In some cases, the school may ask you to submit test scores as they are reviewing your applications. Certain colleges require additional essays and/or admissions interviews when you apply without a test score. To learn more, check out our blog on Top 3 Tips to Prepare You for College Admissions or How to Approach Standardized Testing.

Why Schools Go Test Optional: General Admissions Trends At Test Optional Colleges

Some Colleges Go Test Optional!

There are many reasons why a school may go test optional. Letting applicants choose whether they wish to submit test scores allows the student to decide whether their test-taking ability is an essential part of their academic potential. As tests and test prep courses are expensive, making them optional can also be seen as an equalizer. Other schools may be encouraged by UChicagos increased SAT average in 2019 , because having higher test scores helps colleges rise in the rankings.

According to the publication Defining Access: How Test Optional Works, which is based on a research study with 1 million students at 29 testoptional colleges, standardized tests are more likely to favor white, male, wealthy students. Students whove had the opportunity to prepare for the SAT/ACT, pay for test prep, and sign up for multiple testing sessions typically earn higher scores. Not everyone can afford test prep services or plan to take the SAT or ACT multiple times. So, the testing system automatically puts people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds at a disadvantage, which statistically includes a disproportionate number of people of color and immigrants.

You can see that there are several reasons colleges go test optional, from being more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, to anticipating increased SAT/ACT mean and median scores.

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Schools That Are Test Blind

Well wrap up with this list of test-blind schools . Again, please check the Notes column in the table for specific details about each schools test-blind policy!

Of the Top 200 National Universities, these ones are test-blind:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of California
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • The Catholic University of America
  • San Diego State University

Top Liberal Arts Schools Which Are Test Optional Colleges:

School Name
University of San Francisco 97

As you can see, many top schools have decided to deemphasize the need for standardized tests in making their admissions decisions. There are more liberal arts institutions than national universities which are test optional colleges. National universities get a greater number of applications than liberal arts colleges. For example, Harvard received 43,330 applications for the Class of 2023, while Bowdoin received 9,332. Having standardized test scores as a factor for comparison helps Harvard admissions officers sort through the significantly larger pool. So, standardized tests are still required at Ivy League schools and other highly selective colleges such as Stanford and Duke.

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