Answering Your Test Optional Questions

COVID-19 has flipped colleges upside down and forced them to innovate quickly. Cue, the resurgence of test optional. 

Because many of the mandated tests have been cancelled or postponed, colleges and universities all around the nation have now opted in for a test optional application. 

So, do you test or not test? 

Submit those test results or not submit?

These are the questions that are circling the minds of many students and parents.

Answering Your Test Optional Questions

Many universities and colleges are going test-optional, meaning students can apply for admission without needing to submit a standardized test score from the ACT or SAT. Let’s start answering your test optional questions and addressing what we recommend our students to do.

Is it still necessary to take a test?

If your student has not taken a test (ACT / SAT) yet, is it still necessary?

As an independent educational consultant, my answer will always be customized to a student’s specific circumstances; however, the majority of the time my answer is yes

There are still many schools who require a standardized score for admissions. That number is dwindling, but some have stood firm in this requirement. 

Many students do not finalize their college list until their senior year. You don’t want to risk falling in love with a university only to find out they require a test score which you don’t yet possess. Even if a student’s college list is made up solely of schools which are test-optional, a good test score can add a “gold star” to a student’s application. Remember, “test optional” is not the same as “test blind” – where a university does not consider any applicant’s test scores. Test optional colleges will still desire candidates with high test scores.

Additionally, many colleges still require a test score to determine merit aid – financial awards based on academic achievement, extracurriculars, etc.. 

Unless there are extreme circumstances such as lack of opportunity due to COVID-19 or a personal reason like severe test anxiety, I advise students to take at least one test to not limit their college selection.

Should your student submit a test score that isn’t that great?

What if your student feels their test score isn’t that great? Should they not submit it?

Again, the answer depends on the student and the school. 

Some schools are thrilled to accept students with an 1140 SAT. Other schools view a 30 on the ACT as a median score. Students submitting a test score should consider if they rank in the mid 50% or higher. It can also depend on the specific major or program within the university; those ranges can differ from the school as a whole. 

Have your student do research with their Bright Futures counselor or on their own to find this kind of information; you can typically find these score ranges on the university website. 

This can help you determine if your student’s test score boosts or detracts from their application.

What happens when your student doesn’t submit test scores?

If you choose not to submit a test score, colleges will place emphasis on your academic records such as your transcript, level of rigor, AP exam scores, etc. 

Most universities will take your extracurricular activities, personal responsibilities/circumstances, and essay into consideration as well.

How do you find out if a college or university is test optional?

Many universities and colleges have created a page specifically for test optional questions. You can either visit a specific site and find their test optional page or Google “test optional faq for [insert college name]”.

Any Other Questions About Test Optional?

If you have any other questions, please comment below or schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your options.

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