Many colleges across the country claim to have moved to ‘test-optional’ or ‘test-flexible’ admission status. But if they take a pass on the SAT or ACT, is your student on a level playing field with those students who have taken the test?
Let’s break it down.
What is a test-optional college?
- Students decide whether they want to submit test scores with their application.
- Schools focus on other factors they believe are stronger predictors of a student’s potential to succeed in college and will look at student’s essays, recommendations, grades, and coursework more closely than test scores.
What is a test-flexible college?
- Students submit other test scores in replacement, such as one or more SAT Subject Tests, an International Baccalaureate exam, or an Advanced Placement test.
What to Consider:
- Schools are very likely to ask your student for test scores during the application process. They could then be provisionally accepted, but asked to take a placement exam. If your student does not score what is considered passing on their placement exam, they could be required to take non-credit classes for remediation during freshman year — adding an additional one to two semesters to their college journey.
- This would impact the cost of their education, because you are responsible for paying for the additional non-credit classes needed.
- Instead of test scores, schools may request samples of your student’s academic work, scientific research, or additional recommendation letters. They will also look at your student’s grades and grade trends, essays, extracurricular activities, and achievements more closely to ensure your student is meeting their admission requirements.
You should always submit test scores if…
- Your student is seeking Merit Scholarships. Test scores are a determining factor for Merit Scholarships and award amounts. By not submitting them, your student will be at a significant disadvantage.
- Your student does not have a diverse and strong portfolio of academic work, extracurricular, achievements, and essays. This is what they would be looking at extensively in replacement of test scores.
- They scored well on their ACT or SAT and meet the admission score requirements their colleges are looking for. This will only reflect a stronger case that they are ready! Even if they are in the lower bracket of admission score requirements, submitting test scores builds a student’s case that they are a better candidate than a student who does not submit any scores and has similar achievements and grades.