SAT and ACT exam dates have been cancelled for months. Standardized testing is in chaos. Are test optional schools the solution?
With so many students unable to take the SAT or ACT within the usual time frames, schools are scrambling to accommodate the extraordinary circumstances. And it’s not just for the students’ benefit: college admissions are declining, and schools fear their class sizes may be significantly smaller than normal. They’re committed to removing roadblocks in the admissions process to encourage more students to apply.
All of this tumult has accelerated a trend known as the “test optional movement.” When a school goes test optional, it means that applicants aren’t required to submit standardized test scores to be considered for admission. Some schools are taking these measures on a 1-3 year basis, assuming they will be temporary. Others, however, are choosing to go test optional permanently. (There are a host of issues related to access and equity in standardized testing that are informing these decisions, but we’ll save that for another post.)
Does this mean that your student’s off the hook when it comes to taking the SAT/ACT? Maybe...but maybe not. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
To truly answer the question, you need to understand the important distinction between “test optional” schools and “test blind” schools.
Test Optional vs. Test Blind
Test optional schools don’t require standardized test scores. However, if a student chooses to submit scores, they will be considered as part of their application. If a student’s test scores are strong, it’s likely that they could improve a student’s chances of admission.
Test blind schools don’t take standardized testing into account at all during the admissions process. Submitting a 1600 on the SAT has the same result as not submitting a score at all. Students are evaluated solely on other criteria.
Most schools who no longer require standardized testing are test optional, which means that if a student submits scores, a college will consider them.
That’s why we recommend carrying on with test prep and standardized testing for almost all students. If your student has strong test scores to submit, they’re worth including as part of their applications. Those scores may give them a boost in the admissions process.
On the other hand, if your student’s test scores don’t end up being that strong (even after thorough test prep and possibly help from an expert tutor), they may want to forgo submission on the application process. Keep in mind, however, that not submitting does leave a hole in your student’s applications.
Test scores may also be required for athlete eligibility and scholarship opportunities.
If your student wants to leave as many options available as possible, we recommend that they prep for and take the SAT/ACT as they normally would. While test scores may not be vital to your student’s application process, we’d hate for them to miss out on a school that was a great fit for them if those test scores do become necessary. Test prep does require some work, but if it helps your student get into a school that provides an amazing experience, it’s more than worth the effort.
Every student’s situation is unique, so if you have any questions about your student’s test prep, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-714-5262. We’re here and ready to help.