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  • Writer's pictureChris Tamis

An educated decision or a risky choice?

Updated: Feb 21, 2022


First, the good news. This year's application season is turning out to be much less problematic than last years. In other words, the train is back on the track. The one lingering leftover from last year is the concept of test-optional admissions.

Quite simply put, there is no right or wrong answer to the question, “should I apply test-optional?” Like every decision you will make in life, there are consequences to choosing not submit SAT or ACT scores. Perhaps the biggest factor to consider is that by not submitting standardized test scores, you will amplify the focus on all other parts of your application (especially your transcript). Another consideration is "test-optional" does not mean that "tests not required". Trust me, there are plenty of students out there this application cycle who studied, were able to sit for multiple test dates and who scored extremely well. Your application will be compared to theirs and they will have that extra component in the application process.

A few years ago, the initial purpose of test-optional policies was to assist disadvantaged students who might not have the same access as others to prep courses and nearby test centers. During last year's Covid lockdown, the policy was expanded (for good reason) because most people couldn’t actually take the exam. This year, there have been very few cancellations and colleges know that. While 78% of schools have extended the test-optional policy for this season, target to selective schools still will be receiving scores included with the majority of undergraduate student applications. It is also important to know that last year was by far the most competitive application season ever! Many colleges saw (and expect to see again) huge increases in the number of applications received. Several top-tier universities reported that when trying to make tough admissions decisions, often the inclusion of standardized test score made the difference.

So, how do you handle this? As always, I recommend evaluating yourself honestly against each of your college's admissions stats. It is also important to remember that standardized test scores are just one component of what represents you as a potential acceptance. If you are in the “range” for a school, most likely submitting your scores would be the best choice. If you are well below what they have traditionally admitted, perhaps test-optional is the way to go. Also remember, this is not a one-time only decision, you can change your preference for each school you apply to.

Plan carefully and weigh your options when it come to the important decision.

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