Test Optional: What does it mean?

What to Do if You Are Waitlisted for A College? Guide for Students

As the tentacles of COVID 19 spread across the world there was a steady flow of colleges from all parts of the United States announcing that they are going ‘test optional’ in response to the impact the pandemic was having on SAT and ACT testing dates. As time has moved on, with no sign of the pandemic going away colleges have continued to review their testing policies with a number of colleges announcing plans to suspend the requirement to submit standardised testing schools beyond the current application cycle. While this flexibility is good news for students it is important to understand just what this means for their admission to college.

When a college says that it is going ‘test optional’ it does not mean that testing becomes irrelevant for all students applying to that institution. While test scores are no longer required to complete an application, colleges will still welcome test scores and value students with strong scores in the admission process.

Over recent years there has been a gradual increase in the number of colleges introducing a test optional policy. Colleges that have gone down this route typically see an increase in applications which results in a smaller acceptance rate and therefore more selective. In some cases, COVID 19 has provided the nudge for colleges to bring forward a decision that they were already well down the road to introducing, while others have introduced it as a short term solution for one or two years only.

As we have already said test optional is not the same as test blind, a college with a test optional policy will benefit a student who has a great academic record and strong extra-curricular activities but who has not performed to their potential in their SAT or ACT. Students who have tested well should still submit their test scores as this provides an additional evidence of their academic strength. Students who do not submit scores will be evaluated on the rest of their application, including their grades and extra-curricular involvement, but they lack the additional evidence that test scores can provide in a competitive admissions environment.

Additionally, test scores can play an important part in the award of merit funding, even for colleges that are test optional. In many colleges the most prestigious and generous merit-based awards depend upon a rigorous schedule, strong grades and the test score to match.

Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counselors, can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high-schooling years. Start today!

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