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FAQs About Test Optional Admissions Policies

While some colleges have offered test optional policies for years, more schools have announced similar policies this spring in the wake of COVID-19. At StudyPoint, we spoke with Kristen Lefebvre, our National Director of Curriculum and Academics, to break down how these policies might impact your student's college preparation. 
  • What does test optional mean?
    • More than 1,000 schools identify as test optional, though the definition of test optional varies from school to school. Those schools for which standardized test scores are optional will treat SAT and/or ACT scores as a supplement in the application. This means your student can decide whether or not to submit those test scores for consideration. 
  • Why are some admissions offices announcing new test optional policies this spring?
    • Recognizing the challenges that COVID-19 created, schools such as the University of California, Tufts University, Case Western Reserve, Davidson College, and more, are implementing test optional policies as an accommodation for students. Most of these changes are temporary, meaning they are in place for students applying for Fall 2021, but are not permanent policy changes. A few schools, however, are extending this accommodation beyond the next admission cycle, typically for the next three years, and will determine at the end of that period whether or not to reinstate the testing requirement. 
  • Will test optional schools still look at my SAT or ACT test scores?
    • Yes. Test optional does not mean test blind, so colleges will consider SAT and ACT scores in their admissions decisions for students who submit scores. 
  • Are there benefits to submitting scores with my application?
    • In many cases, yes. Students who do not submit standardized test scores have lower acceptance rates than those who submit test scores, according to College Vine. Colleges favor applicants who supply more data supporting their candidacy, and submitting a strong test score can increase your chances of admission. A school counselor or admissions consultant may be good sounding boards for helping determine if your test scores reflect the total strength of your application. Another factor to consider is that many scholarships and financial aid packages require the submission of certain scores, or that students achieve certain test scores to qualify. 
  • Will test optional policies change how my transcript is viewed?
    • Not necessarily. To determine specific school policies, we recommend calling admission offices directly. High school transcripts are historically the top metric for admissions decisions. With every school district across the country approaching remote learning differently, this may shift some students to pass-fail grading systems for the duration of this semester. Pass-fail grades eliminate the chance to boost a GPA. In this case, a standardized test score provides a great way to quantify your eligibility for admission. 
  • Should I still prepare for the SAT and ACT ?
    • Yes. Especially as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis impacts your student's course work, grades, AP exams, and extracurriculars, having strong SAT and/or ACT scores will help your student stand out. Your student should continue preparing for and take the SAT or ACT so he or she can optimize standardized test scores and maximize opportunities for college admission and financing. 
The college preparation process has been upended this spring, and StudyPoint is here to help your junior navigate these changes. Feel free to call our Enrollment Advisors at 1-87STUDYPOINT for a consultation. We also offer test preparation, subject tutoring, and admissions support options.

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